Saturday, 16 February 2013

7 Wonders of World

                                             WORLD OF WONDERS

                                      The Seven wonders of world are newly elected and they are given as below describing the specialities and the reasons why they are choosed as wonders. As a Indian we shall be proud to see our Taj once again among them.

                                      Every Indian is proud of the beautiful Taj, which is among the 7 wonders of world the epitome of Mughal art and one of the most famous buildings in the world. Yet there have been few serious studies of it and no full analysis of its architecture and meaning. Ebba Koch, an important scholar,  has been permitted to take measurements of the complex and has been working on the palaces and gardens of Shah Jahan for thirty years and on the Taj Mahal itself—the tomb of the emperor's wife, Mumtaz Mahal—for a decade. 

                    Taj Mahal was built in 22 years (1631-1653) with the orders of Shah Jahan and it was dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Bano Begum), the wife of Shah. 20.000 workers labored and 32 crore rupees were spent during the construction of the monument and it was built according to Islamic architecture. It is one of the Unesco world heritage site.

                   Although such a devotion to a wife reaching to build a monument seemed like a weakness for an emperor, Shah Jahan was clearly determined. He chose a peaceful site by the River of Jumna about one and a half miles away from Agra on the southern edge of the city, where could be seen from the Agra Fortress. The closeness to the river also met the water need for the construction and garden.

                    Shah Jahan decided to move Mumtaz to Agra in December 1631 and was buried in a domed building temporarily on the construction site of the unique mausoleum in January 8, 1632. Mir Abul Karim and Mukamat Khan was positioned as supervisors of the construction , however the architect was never mentioned by the Mogul Empire’s historians that left questions and disputes about the architect. Even though some insists that the building was the work of a European, the Venetian Geronimo Vereneo, there is no trace of European architectural style. Also Vereneo’s tombstone in Agra, where the Christians were buried, it was stated that he died in Lahore but nothing more about the construction of Taj Mahal. The most reliable architect might be Ustad Ahmad Lahori, who was the architect of the Red Fort of Agra and most probably took part in the construction of Taj Mahal, which was indeed emphasised in a poem of his son Lutfullah Muhandis.            

                    The body of Mumtaz laid for the third and the finally at the center of the mausoleum on north-south with her face turned westward to Holy Mecca in May 26, 1633. The three-domed mosque was situated on the west with its alcove namely mihrab pointing the direction of Mecca for the prayers. The mosque on the east side might not used as a mosque in purpose but a pilgrimage guesthouse as the back wall was not marking Mecca. It might most probably build for the symmetry or echoing.                   
                  The place was important for the pilgrims as Mumtaz died in childbirth who was considered as martyr following Islamic traditions. The building is influenced mostly from central Asian and Persian architecture combined with Muslim architecture. The construction was finished in twenty-two years with the power of twenty-thousand workers. Also the intricate stone carving usage, the domed kiosk namely chattri, are the traces of Hindu architecture. 
The characteristic Mogul octagonal design with eight chambers representing the eight divisions of the Koran was used in Taj Mahal and was topped by a gigantic double dome. The inner dome is about eighty feet from the ground. The gigantic outer dome rises like fruit or a flower bulb with its excellent proportion and is surrounded by four domed kiosks.

                      The platform with 970 feet length and 364 feet width raising the mausoleum from the ground is surrounded by three storey four minarets on the corners with 139 feet height and completed with octagonal chattris. The building was made with mathematical calculations leaving no space for a fault in symmetry and balance. Brick, red sandstone and white marble were commonly used as the three main materials and finished with polished plaster on the surface. The constructions started in January 1632 with approximately five thousand laborers both local and from the other places of the empire with the marble platform.

                           The huge white marbles were carried from Makrana on southwest of Jaipur (Amber) about four hundred kilometres away; stone cutters and carts were also rented as the order of Empire to be paid by the Empire Treasure. The marbles were cut flawlessly without any crack. In fact the mausoleum was not of pure marble but of bricks faced with marble. The bricks were made nearby the construction area, therefore, eliminating the transportation problem. Although it is not certain, the brick scaffolding might have been used rather than bamboo or the wood, if the weight and the worth of the materials were considered. The three feet above the ground was faced with marble, continued then with marble like plastered bricks in the interior parts of the mausoleum. Because the use of images of human or animal is strictly prohibited in Islamic traditions due to the belief of equalising the images with God, Islamic calligraphic designs, mostly writings of Koran, were commonly used inside and outside of the pure white building as the very important art of ornamentation. The talented Persian Abd-ul-Haqq with the title of “Amanat Khan” was positioned in Taj Mahal’s calligraphic decoration who was before appointed by Jahangir on Akbar’s tomb. He was also reputed to be the only one who was allowed to sign his works in Taj Mahal.

                          His dated signatures give clues about the building duration and also reveal that the calligraphic works were started from up to down in utmost artistry. While the calligraphic work of the mausoleum was nearly completed by the end of 1637, Amanat was promoted and rewarded honourably by Shah Jahan with more salary and an elephant. According to the unsigned work on the gateway dated 1637 unfolds the magnificent inscriptions on the tomb was however must have been finished by another as Amanat Khan died around 1647-1648 after his last signature on the north front of the great gate with the inscription “Finished with His help, the Most High, *1057”(*lunar calendar). Also, the stone carvings and especially in mosque and guesthouse the floral themes as the sign of paradise are also considerably used in Taj Mahal as the main ornamentation types together with more than forty different types of gems came from various countries. Also some caravanserais were also built for the merchants and carriers around the construction area in order to meet their needs.

                           The paradise resembling spectacular Tomb finished in 1643 while the every part of the complex had not been completed until 1653. The night of the 6th February 1643, was the first ceremony of the mourners of Mumtaz Mahal.

Marble platform
                          The eye-catching pure white marble platform is constructed in square and enriched by four marble faced three-storey minarets with the pillared domes of octagonal chhatris toppings. The vaulted tunnel stairs reach to the platform from the riverfront terrace in the centre of the southern side. The centre of the rest three sides opens via two doors to a long room lit by jalis (cage window) in hexagonal patterns. The doors are the entrance of the small square rooms which give access to the long room as connecting rooms. The rooms once used for the imperial family’s resting place are now functioning for storage.

The façades of the platform is ornamented continuously with the blind arches and round shaped figures followed by rectangular frames above.

Garden (bagh-i firdaus-a’in)

                       The paradise-like garden is the very impressing part of the complex. The square garden is divided into four parts with two main walkways. Each of these four parts is also divided into four with narrower walkways, therefore, creating sixteen squares. The canal including a line of fountains passes in-between the main walkway. It is lined with sandstone strips and geometrical stars and then followed by larger sandstone walkway with typical Mogul geometrical designs. The north-south walkway connects the great gate to the mausoleum while the two pavilions are connected through the east-west walkway.

The raised white marble platform at the centre of the walkways, namely “chabutra” includes a pool with five fountains. The four marble banks around the pool were added later with the order of Lord Curzon in 1907.


                                     COLOSSEUM – ROME

                        Colosseum is Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, it was the largest building of the Roman era. The monumental structure has fallen into ruin, but even today it is an imposing and beautiful sight.The Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheater was begun by Vespasian, inaugurated by Titus in 80 A.D. and completed by Domitian. Located on marshy land between the Esquiline and Caelian Hills, it was the first permanent amphitheater to be built in Rome. Its monumental size and grandeur as well as its practical and efficient organization for producing spectacles and controlling the large crowds make it one of the great architectural monuments achieved by the ancient Romans.

                         The amphitheater is a vast ellipse with tiers of seating for 50,000 spectators around a central elliptical arena. Below the wooden arena floor, there was a complex set of rooms and passageways for wild beasts and other provisions for staging the spectacles. Eighty walls radiate from the arena and support vaults for passageways, stairways and the tiers of seats. At the outer edge circumferential arcades link each level and the stairways between levels.

                          The three tiers of arcades are faced by three-quarter columns and entablatures, Doric in the first story, Ionic in the second, and Corinthian in the third. Above them is an attic story with Corinthian pilasters and small square window openings in alternate bays. At the top brackets and sockets carry the masts from which the velarium, a canopy for shade, was suspended.
The construction utilized a careful combination of types: concrete for the foundations, travertine for the piers and arcades, tufa infill between piers for the walls of the lower two levels, and brick-faced concrete used for the upper levels and for most of the vaults.

                           The elliptical building is immense, measuring 188m by 156m and reaching a height of more than 48 meters (159 ft). The Colosseum could accommodate some 55,000 spectators who could enter the building through no less than 80 entrances. Above the ground are four storeys, the upper storey contained seating for lower classes and women.


                                                                CHICHEN ITZA

                         Chichen Itza which means “at the mouth of the well of Itza “, is the 2nd most visited archeological site of Mexico today. The Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen-Itza which known as “El Castillo” (the castle), is one of the new seven wonders of the world elected in 07.07.2007. It is exactly 24 m. high considering the upper platform. Apart from the Kukulkan Pyramid, in Chichen Itza there many other archaeological sites to visit, all carrying traces from Mayan Culture in many ways.Chichen-Itza, now including one of the new 7 wonders of the world; the Kukulkan Pyramid, is located in the Peninsula of Yucatan, in the Yucatan State; Mexico, between Valladolid and Merida and is just120 km from Merida.


                        Chichen Itza was one of the greatest Mayan centers of the Peninsula of Yucatan. Throughout its nearly 1,000 years history, different peoples have left their mark on this city. The Maya and Toltec vision of the world and the universe is revealed in their artistic works and stone monuments. Several buildings have survived.
                        In the northern region of the Yucatan peninsula, on a limestone plateau lie the relics of Chichen Itza, once one of the most powerful cities of the Maya. Ruins of the temples of this ancient civilization spread from the Guatemala jungles to the Yucatan. Today, Chichen Itza attracts millions of visitors who come to marvel at the spectacular remains.

Mayan Civilisation
The Maya originated around 3,000 years ago in present-day Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Mexico.The Mayan empire flourished in the southern regions from around 250 AD to 900 AD. The empire in the south collapsed around 900 AD. No one knows the reason.Scholars have suggested, among other reasons, disease, political upheaval, overpopulation or drought. But while the empire in the south waned, that in the north, especially in the Yucatan, flourished until the Spanish conquests of the 16th century AD.

                     The Maya were very skilled farmers and also created a very sophisticated written language; some think it might have been the first written language native to the Americans.The Maya also developed social class system which was a well-ordered and carried on trade throughout a network of cities that went as far south as Panama and as far north as Central Mexico. Mathematicians, their number system included the concept of zero, an idea unknown to the old Greeks, expert mathematicians themselves.
                      The Maya used their mathematical knowledge along with celestial observations to finesse a calendar created by the Olmec which is a culture from the Mexican Gulf Coast and to create monuments to observe and commemorate movements of the moon, the sun, and Venus. Spectacular examples of these monuments can still be seen at Chichen Itza today.


                              Corcovado, meaning "hunchback" in Portuguese, is a mountain in central Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The 710-metre (2,329 ft) granite peak is located in the Tijuca Forest, a national park. Corcovado hill lies just west of the city center but is wholly within the city limits and visible from great distances. It is known worldwide for the 38-metre (125 ft) statue of Jesus atop its peak, entitled Cristo Redentor or "Christ the Redeemer".
                             The most popular attraction of Corcovado mountain is the statue and viewing platform at its peak, drawing over 300,000 visitors per year. From the peak's platform the panoramic view includes downtown Rio, Sugarloaf Mountain, the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas (lake), Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, Estádio do Maracanã (Maracanã Stadium), and several of Rio's favelas. Cloud cover is common in Rio and the view from the platform is often obscured. Sunny days are recommended for optimal viewing.

                           Notable past visitors to the mountain peak include Pope Pius XII, Pope John Paul II, Alberto Santos-Dumont, German Sueiro Vasquez, Albert Einstein, and Diana, Princess of Wales. An additional attraction of the mountain is rock climbing. The south face had 54 climbing routes as of 1992. The easiest way starts from Park Lage.
                          The Corcovado is also a symbol of the Brazilian culture.Engineer Heitor da Silva Costa designed the statue; it was sculpted by Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski. A group of engineers and technicians studied Landowski's submissions and the decision was made to build the structure out of reinforced concrete (designed by Albert Caquot) instead of steel, more suitable for the cross-shaped statue. The outer layers are soapstone, chosen for its enduring qualities and ease of use. Construction took nine years, from 1922 to 1931 and cost the equivalent of US$250,000 ($3,257,463 in 2013). The monument was opened on October 12, 1931. The statue was meant to be lit by a battery of floodlights triggered remotely by shortwave radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, stationed 5,700 miles (9,200 km) away in Rome, but poor weather affected the signal and it had to be lit by workers in Rio.
                             In October 2006, on the statue's 75th anniversary, Archbishop of Rio Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid consecrated a chapel (named after the patron saint of Brazil—Nossa Senhora Aparecida, or "Our Lady of the Apparition,") under the statue. This allows Catholics to hold baptisms and weddings there.

                                                  GREAT WALL OF CHINA

                      The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China in part to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states against intrusions by various nomadic groups or military incursions by various warlike peoples or forces. Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC, these, later joined together and made bigger, stronger, and unified are now collectively referred to as the Great Wall. Especially famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains. Since then, the Great Wall has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced; the majority of the existing wall was reconstructed during the  
Ming Dynasty.

                    Other purposes of the Great Wall have included border controls, allowing the imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road, regulation or encouragement of trade and the control of immigration and emigration. Furthermore, the defensive characteristics of the Great Wall were enhanced by the construction of watch towers, troop barracks, garrison stations, signaling capabilities through the means of smoke or fire, and the fact that the path of the Great Wall also served as a transportation corridor.

                     The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi). This is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 mi) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers. Another archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measure out to be 21,196 km (13,171 mi).

                                       MACHU PICCHU  

                    Machu Picchu was built around 1450, at the height of the Inca Empire. The construction of Machu Picchu appears to date from the period of the two great Incas, Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui (1438–71) and Tupac Inca Yupanqui (1472–93). It was abandoned just over 100 years later, in 1572, as a belated result of the Spanish Conquest. It is possible that most of its inhabitants died from smallpox introduced by travelers before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the area. The latter had notes of a place called Piccho, although there is no record of the Spanish having visited the remote city. The types of sacred rocks defaced by the conquistadors in other locations are untouched at Machu Picchu.

                 Hiram Bingham theorized that the complex was the traditional birthplace of the Incan "Virgins of the Suns". More recent research by scholars such as John Howland Rowe and Richard Burger, has convinced most archaeologists that Machu Picchu was an estate of the Inca emperor Pachacuti. In addition, Johan Reinhard presented evidence that the site was selected because of its position relative to sacred landscape features such as its mountains which are purported to be in alignment with key astronomical events important to the Incas.

               Johan Reinhard believes Machu Picchu to be a sacred religious site. This theory stands mainly because of where Machu Picchu is located. Reinhard calls it "sacred geography" because the site is built on and around mountains that hold high religious importance in the Inca culture and in the previous culture that occupied the land. At the highest point of the mountain in which Machu Picchu was named after, there are “artificial platforms [and] these had a religious function, as is clear from the Inca ritual offerings found buried under them” (Reinhard 2007). These platforms also are found in other Incan religious sites. The site’s other stone structures have finely worked stones with niches and, from what the “Spaniards wrote about Inca sites, we know that these [types of] building[s] were of ritual significance” (Reinhard 2007). This would be the most convincing evidence that Reinhard points out because this type of stylistic stonework is only found at the religious sites so it would be natural that they would exist at this religious site. Another theory maintains that Machu Picchu was an Inca llaqta, a settlement built to control the economy of conquered regions. Yet another asserts that it may have been built as a prison for a select few who had committed heinous crimes against Inca society. An alternative theory is that it is an agricultural testing station. Different types of crops could be tested in the many different micro-climates afforded by the location and the terraces; these were not large enough to grow food on a large scale, but may have been used to determine what could grow where. Another theory suggests that the city was built as an abode for the deities, or for the coronation of kings.

                   The World Monuments Fund placed Machu Picchu on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world because of environmental degradation. This has resulted from the impact of tourism, uncontrolled development in the nearby town of Aguas Calientes, which included a poorly sited tram to ease visitor access, and the construction of a bridge across the Vilcanota River, which is likely to bring even more tourists to the site, in defiance of a court order and government protests against it.

                                       PETRA JORDAN

            Evidence suggests that settlements had begun in and around Petra in the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (1550–1292 BC). It is listed in Egyptian campaign accounts and the Amarna letters as Pel, Sela or Seir. Though the city was founded relatively late, a sanctuary existed there since very ancient times. This part of the country was Biblically assigned to the Horites, the predecessors of the Edomites. The habits of the original natives may have influenced the Nabataean custom of burying the dead and offering worship in half-excavated caves. Although Petra is usually identified with Sela which means a rock, the Biblical references refer to it as "the cleft in the rock", referring to its entrance. The second book of Kings xiv. 7 seems to be more specific. In the parallel passage, however, Sela is understood to mean simply "the rock"

                On the authority of Josephus , Eusebius and Jerome assert that Rekem was the native name and Rekem appears in the Dead Sea Scrolls as a prominent Edom site most closely describing Petra and associated with Mount Seir. But in the Aramaic versions Rekem is the name of Kadesh, implying that Josephus may have confused the two places. Sometimes the Aramaic versions give the form Rekem-Geya which recalls the name of the village El-ji, southeast of Petra. The Semitic name of the city, if not Sela, remains unknown. The passage in Diodorus Siculus  which describes the expeditions which Antigonus sent against the Nabataeans in 312 BC is understood to throw some light upon the history of Petra, but the "petra" referred to as a natural fortress and place of refuge cannot be a proper name and the description implies that the town was not yet in existence.

The Rekem Inscription before it was buried by the bridge abutments.

                  The name "Rekem" was inscribed in the rock wall of the Wadi Musa opposite the entrance to the Siq, but about twenty years ago the Jordanians built a bridge over the wadi and this inscription was buried beneath tons of concrete.More satisfactory evidence of the date of the earliest Nabataean settlement may be obtained from an examination of the tombs. Two types have been distinguished: the Nabataean and the Greco-Roman. The Nabataean type starts from the simple pylon-tomb with a door set in a tower crowned by a parapet ornament, in imitation of the front of a dwelling-house. Then, after passing through various stages, the full Nabataean type is reached, retaining all the native features and at the same time exhibiting characteristics which are partly Egyptian and partly Greek. Of this type there exist close parallels in the tomb-towers at el-I~ejr in north Arabia, which bear long Nabataean inscriptions and supply a date for the corresponding monuments at Petra. Then comes a series of tomb fronts which terminate in a semicircular arch, a feature derived from north Syria. Finally come the elaborate façades copied from the front of a Roman temple; however, all traces of native style have vanished. The exact dates of the stages in this development cannot be fixed. Few inscriptions of any length have been found at Petra, perhaps because they have perished with the stucco or cement which was used upon many of the buildings. The simple pylon-tombs which belong to the pre-Hellenic age serve as evidence for the earliest period. It is not known how far back in this stage the Nabataean settlement goes, but it does not go back farther than the 6th century BC.

                  A period follows in which the dominant civilization combines Greek, Egyptian and Syrian elements, clearly pointing to the age of the Ptolemies. Towards the close of the 2nd century BC, when the Ptolemaic and Seleucid kingdoms were equally depressed, the Nabataean kingdom came to the front. Under Aretas III Philhellene, (c.85–60 BC), the royal coins begin. The theatre was probably excavated at that time, and Petra must have assumed the aspect of a Hellenistic city. In the reign of Aretas IV Philopatris, (9 BC–40 AD), the tombs of the el-I~ejr type may be dated, and perhaps also the High-place.


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