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Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab, India
Darbar Sahib, Golden Temple is the holiest shrine in Sikhism. It was officially renamed Harmandir Sahib (meaning Divine Temple) in March 2005. The temple (or gurdwara) is a major pilgrimage destination for Sikhs from all over the world, as well as an increasingly popular tourist attraction for its immense beauty and inspiring harmony.
Harmandir Sahib, the main temple, built in the midst of a lake, is a two-story marble structure with an imposing dome of pure gold. Construction of the Golden Temple began in 1574 on land donated by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. It was initiated by the fourth guru, Guru Ram Das and completed by his son, Guru Arjan Dev. The temple had to be substantially rebuilt after it was sacked in the 1760s, and in the early 19th century 100 kilograms of gold were applied to the inverted lotus-shaped dome and decorative marble was added. All the gold and marble work took place under the patronage of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The legendary warrior king was a major donor of wealth and materials for the shrine and is remembered with much affection by the Sikh community and Punjabi people.
The main entrance, Darshani deori, sports a distinctly Victorian clock tower. The giant pool of water surrounding the Golden Temple is known as Amrit Sarovar. There are sections set aside for pilgrims to bathe. Harmandir Sahib houses the sacred Adi Granth scripture (Guru Granth Sahib), which is recited aloud during the day. It is brought back to the Akal Takht at night, which is the seat of the highest council of Sikhs. This is a unique ceremony that takes place everyday, but nothing is compared to the “Guru Ka Langar” (community kitchen) that are held inside the premise. Not only poor and needy but the richest of rich who enjoy the most heavenly cuisines, sit with their legs folded on the ground for this divine food of God. You must cover your head and remove you shoes before entering the temple.
All Sikhs are expected at some point in their lives to volunteer for a week at the temple and everyone see working here is fulfilling that responsibility.
Nanak Naam Chardhi Kala, Tere Bhane Sarbatt Da Bhala
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
As we know, Taj Mahal made to the list of New Seven Wonders earlier and remains one of the most loved tourist spots in the world. This marble today stands as the marvel of India. We as Indians are proud to have such a beauty in our country.
The story of Taj Mahal begun from the time when Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan married second time to a girl selling bangles in the market. This young girl called Arzuman Banu Begam came to be known as Mumtaz Mahal. Married in 1612, she breathed her last in 1631 giving birth to her 14th child, a daughter named Gauhara Begum. So grief stricken was the Shah that he withdrew from the public eye for a year and when he emerged at the end of that time, although still a young at 40, his hair had turned white and he appeared as an old man.
Shah Jehan went ahead and erected an immortal tribute in the form of the most magnificent tomb in the world. It would take 23 years to be completed. Twenty thousand people were deployed to work on it. The material was brought in from all over India and central Asia and it took a fleet of 1000 elephants to transport it to the site. It was designed by the Iranian architect Ustad Isa and it is best appreciated when the architecture and its adornments are linked to the passion that inspired it. It is a “symbol of eternal love“.
The Taj Mahal, built entirely of white marble, uses an architectural design known as interlocking arabesque. Each element of the structure can stand on its own and integrate with the main structure. The central dome, called the Taj, is 58 feet in diameter and 213 feet high. The marble walls inside the dome are covered with intricate mosaic patterns and precious stones. Within the dome lies the jewel-inlaid tomb of the queen. The only asymmetrical object in the Taj Mahal is the casket of the emperor. (After stealing the throne, Shah Jehan’s son imprisoned him for 8 years. When Shah Jehan died, he was buried in the Taj beside his beloved Mumtaz.)
Four domed chambers surround the Taj. The main archways are chiseled with passages from the Holy Quran. The mausoleum is part of a vast complex with a main gateway, garden, mosque, guesthouse and several other palatial buildings. A large garden is divided at the center by four reflecting pools. Like the Taj, the garden elements follow the Arabesque concept, standing on their own and constituting the whole.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the Taj Mahal is the magical quality of its changing colours. The Yamuna River behind the Taj reflects light onto the white marble. Depending on the hour of the day or the season, the colours of the Taj are different. The best time to view its stunning beauty is at dawn or sunset.
The origin of the name Taj Mahal has never been clearly documented. Court histories from Shah Jehan’s reign refer to it as the rauza (tomb) of Mumtaz Mahal. It’s generally believed that Taj Mahal, usually translated “Crown of the Palace“, is an abbreviated version of the name Mumtaz Mahal, which means “Exalted One of the Palace“.
There are many contemporary (and some might say, unromantic) historians who contend that the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum far too great to commemorate the memory of one woman, even if she was the favourite wife of an emperor. These historians believe that the Taj Mahal symbolizes the tyranny of a powerful ruler exploiting his subjects and flaunting his magnificence to the world.
Whether the Taj Mahal symbolizes eternal love, an emperor’s power or a little of both, Shah Jehan deserves credit for turning the death of his wife into a symbol of lasting beauty. He bequeathed India and the world its most beautiful mausoleum. As English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold wrote, “The Taj Mahal is not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones.“
Maruti Suzuki launched its new model, Maruti A-Star in India a few days ago. It is the most awaited model of the year and one of the last models that will be launched by maruti this year.
The car will be available at an introductory price ranging from Rs. 3.47 lakh to Rs. 4.12 lakh. The car comes with Suzuki’s 3-Cylinder, 1 Litre, 998cc K10B petrol engine which produces 67PS of power @ 6200RPM and 90NM of torque @ 3500RPM.
The car rides on 13-inch tubeless tyres 155/80 R13 and comes with gas-charged dampers, which reacts to bumps instantly, and hence are better. Front suspension is the universal Mc Pherson Struts and Coil Springs while rear is an Isolated Trailing Link Suspension with Coil Springs.
A-Star comes in three versions – Lxi, Vxi and the ZXi. The top-end ZXi variant comes with ABS + EBD (Air-Bags as standard and Electronic Brake Force and rear window de-fogger along with a dash integrated music system with 4-speaker and an AUX-IN to connect your iPods, which is also shared with the VXi variant.
The A-Star comes in a total of 9 colors: Azure Grey, Arctic White, Sunlight Copper, Midnight Black, Paradise Blue, Silky Silver, Healing Green, Bright Red and Desert Brown.
A-Star will be manufactured at their Manesar plant where the company has made an investment of Rs. 2500 crores for expansion and up-gradation of the plant. It will also be an extension to its existing Gurgaon plant.
The car will be built exclusively in India for the domestic market and will be exported to 150 countries across Europe, Middle East, Latin America, Asia, Australlia and Africa.