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Arca Dikshit  







Taj Mahal history  

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Taj Mahal history  

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Outside Taj Mahal ambi  








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NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
6 Dec 2004

  • India
    Uttar Pradesh
  • Agra; Taj Mahal
  • 27.174167   78.042222
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
  • Sennheiser MKH 40
  • Sennheiser MKH 30
    Equipment Note
  • Split Track Stereo using DPA 4060 up to 1:03:12; Decoded MS Stereo after 1:03:12

Show: Taj Mahal, Susan Stamberg
DAT #: 3
Engineer: William McQuay
Date: December 2-12, 2004

D= Arca Dikshit
P = Parma
S = Susan Stamberg

Echoish hallway, children, footsteps 1:38

2:16 quieter room Susan speaking
3:24 S- tell me then the story of Shah Jahan and the taj mahal, why is this hear
3:27 by the mogul emperor Shah Jahan between 1631-1653 22 years to the memory of his loved wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

3:52 S and tell us what kind of person was she? Muntaz? Who was she?
Her real name was Ajuwan Bagu Begum (aye yiyi )
S- and it meant ornament of the palace
410- actually it meant beautiful crown.
4:14 S-oohh
415 so that all the mogul emperor adopted different titles.
What was saj jihans title?

422 the real name was san han was Kurom
sabudim, sajan means king of the world.
s- king of the world. So he was a very powerful man? Yep and why did he build this tomb?

445- he build this tomb to his loving wife. Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal actually she was very beautiful. You can see the real portrait of queen and emperor inside the taj.
And she was born in 1592.

512 S- what did she look like? Describe her.
You see, the museum. His features.
5:23 S-you can't describe? But she had very big eyes? Beautiful?
D-Yes very big eyes and she was a Shi'a Muslim and Shah Jahan was a Sunni.

536 S-so Sunni married Shi'a
and her father was muja asafram
s- he was a very important man in the court?
D-Very important man in the kingdom of jihangeers' court.
He was the brother of Mujahan.
558 S- okay good please say your name for me again now?
6:08 Arca Dikshit
S- are you doctor?
S-Okay and your titles please
D-You simple introduce me, Arca Dikshit, a officer in Taj.
Officer in charge of Taj.
S- you are the numero uno?
D- in this monument. I, for the archeological of India.

you are in charge of all this? That's a nice job. Tel me something.
You are here everyday you see the taj, do you ever get tired of it?
647 D- I am here since 1975, and I have seen the taj in different times. I have been given a special name, the muse of the Taj. Musaftaj. In the morning time, you see half part of the taj is pink and half is white.
712 S- it has many moods
D- a lot of the books are published my private writers, but my department has been given a book that is only for the Taj Mujem.
One book from my department has a lesson monuments of Agra
S- in the morning what is the color of it.
D- morning the colors come from the sea so half part is pink and half part is white and in the evening time (you hear Susan sighing impatiently in the background) half is pink and half is orange and half is white. So those are the different moods of the full sun and beautiful view you can realize in the rainy season

(Susan clarifies rainy season)
818 at that time the whiteness of the taj is ten times more than present.
s- I think you have to come every day to really see the taj. And you are lucky you can do that.
834 S- now, really the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary?
There is some controversy around that? Mr. Parma can help us if we need to translate here?
847 D- actually our job is conservation, restoration and preservation of the monument.
S- is there problem for preservation today. Is there difficulty?
900- there are different types of restoration factors for the taj. Number one is physical restoration, chem. Rest. Biological restoration, my department the data of the air pollution.
S- the data of the pollution?
925 D-what are the effects of sulfur dioxide and what are the effects of nitrous oxide?
S- where does the problem come? From the cars the automobiles?
look actually the problem is that the sulfur dioxide needs to be in the control in the ideal range for the taj. ??
955 S- good. Thank you so much doctor. Do you thin know we can go out?
1000 J- you said that people call you, there is a name for you here?

1026 we must go outside now?
Parma Chatra Guru
Baby taj and red taj a lot of other monuments. Not white, other that are maintained by the taj mahal.

What's your favorite? Thanks you Mr. Dikshit.
Thank you. (laughter Susan)

1239 AMBI back in the Taj (echoey chamber)
1255 footsteps 1359
14 (little bird chirp in the mix?)
1430 phone ringing quietly in the background
1443 kid talking loudly. 1458 kid out.
1528 Someone says taj in the background
1543 birds chirp, kids "oooup"
1600 (NOS pair BILL almost to the taj mahal, just outside the gentleman's office)

1637 footsteps, passing crowd (clearer now)
1650 S- isn't she wearing special clothes? Lets move.

1805 S- this is how they mow the lawn. I was permitted to mow the lawn.
Okay Mr. Parma, look at that?

18:44 S- you see how they mow. I got to pull a chord, Lou got to pull a cord. We helped to mow the lawn.

1909 AMBI Indian men voices 1918

20:18 S- so I noticed so many Indians. More Indians than foreigners?
P- nearly 80 percent are Indians, 20 percent are foreigners.
S- and why do they come?
2028 p- coming here is an attraction for everyone. Not only for Indians but for everybody. It is a piece of art. They don't come here only for the its like just to visit it, they are coming here

S- now tell about some dispute about , when is the 350th anniversary?
P- the 350th anniv. I think this is the right time, from my point of view. And by contemporary historians. But you know history is always controversial. So historians they are having different opinions but the majority they support that this is the 350th anniv. Of the taj mahal. Only a few make the exception of that.

2110 I saw in some places that it was 350th was 10 years ago.
p- why do you go into the controversy? Confusing the issues?
2134S-always get you in trouble.
P- if you want to keep it that way the, otherwise then, history always controversial.
New researchers find ---cut off /new subject

22:00 S- tell me about the problems of the taj. About pollution, what are the other threats
p the major threat is the shortage of water in the river. It is the water actually that is giving the power to the taj mahal. The construction is like the construction of a bridge underneath. So if there is more water there are more water rings underneath the pillars. Teak, if there is not much water quality they shrink.
S- teak?
P- Teak
s- the pillars of the taj are made of Teak wood so (interrupted by affirmation of P) if there is water in them.

P- then they don't shrink.
S_ so if the water is high
p- then they shrink actually. So the major threat is the account of shortage of water.
s- and what happens if there is no water?

P- so far that is not the situation
s- are they worried that it might be?
p- they are worried actually, that is why they have to keep a dam over here so that just for having more water.
s- so they are redirecting the water, so that that pillars will remain saturated.

23:18 P- and secondly I think that it is the pollution problem as well
s- before we get to pollution, I heard that one of the minarets, there are four at the central tomb.
p-Actually I have to tell you as far as I perceive all the minarets, all for of them are tilting. Each of them,23:39
and they are purposely built like that. And the purpose is like , the first reason is the regional impact. So suppose that if one is looking at them from far they are leaning in a bit, but if one is looking outside they are looking straight. that is the primary reason. And the reason is that they thought about earthquakes. If they are quite straight and if an earthquake is coming that case if they were going to fall they are going to fall outside right now.
s- if there were an earthquake they wanted to make sure the minaret wouldn't fall on the tomb? (p interrupts in here) 2411- it would fall out so it wouldn't destroy it.
P that is why they have been tilted like that. So I think they are purposely like that. So so far if you are looking from here, they are not actually visible to be tilting
S- no they look perfectly straight from here.
2425 P- as we are going, and we are going very close to the central of taj we will see that they are tilting outside a little bit. So this was the major reason that some of the newspapers came up? But I am not sure (chuckling) how it came up like that.

s- why is the jumna low, you have not had a drought lately.
P- we had a drought, a big doubt the last two years but in the major problem is the monsoons. so there were bad monsoons. So that is the major cause of the shortage of water.
s- so what is considered a bad monsoon, too much rain or not enough rain
p- to be considered a ad monsoon, is scanty rain.
s- scanty rain.
2508s- so you have not had enough rain?
p- not enough rain for almost two and a half years.
2535 p- Mumaz a Mahal. Actually name for the lady was not Mumtaz Mahal. It means someone who was like the crown for the palace. The real name was Arjumana Bardgu Bagam
s- what is known about her. Do we know what kind of person she is?
2556 p- her family really hailed from Iran, from isfahan.. The grandparents of Mumtaz came from Iran, they were royalty over there, but somehow they were ousted from there during a time f a rebellion. So they had to lose the power.
2611 P- so they came in India,¿ and then the grandfather, of Mumtaz Mahal. Got a post in the court of the emperor Achbar. And account of his industrious nature he became the premier of the court. (s- oh!) He became the prime minister of the court of Achbar. Given the title name Itimad Umdala. That means someone who is loyal to the estate. Someone who is very loyal to the royalty. So that is the meaning of the name Itimad Umdala. So that is the grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal.
2644 s- so she had a very distinguished family.
p- yes
s- was she an educated woman?
p-she was educated but in that time it was not like a formal. It was all like an informal education that they used to have in the harem only. And somehow the learned people used to come and teach them like that.

2705s- she was Shah Jahem's second wife, but she was part of a harem.
So he had many wives?
p- she was part of the harem. He had many wives, besides them and attendants as well. Actually harem means forbidden. that's an Arabic word , it means forbidden the area the area for ladies (background ambi seemingly changes to more subtle here), that was the complex of the harem so in harem they used to have the wives and besides that they had the slave girls for performing of music and dance, for the purpose of water carrying, for
brooming table attendants. Each and every work was assigned to these girls.

s- how many wives did he have then?
p-this is again a controversy, some saying four, some five, some say like three wives.
s- so why was she the second wife?
p- she was because earlier emperor shah Mahan was married to (s- oh she died) to a Hindu because mogul emperors having a policy of matrimonial alliances with the Hindu kings.
2808 and just to make his empire a strong empire having no opposition is to get the support of the Rajput kings in whom they found a very brave fighter.
So that's why this policy was started initiated by the emperor Achbar. He was the mogul third emperor. So he married a Hindu wife of the princes of jaipur and then same policy was followed by his son and by the grandson as well
s- so his first wife was Hindu and then Mumtaz¿
p- Mumtaz was Iranian, Muslim by wife
s-and when was she suni?
P- Mumtaz was shiie.

s- she was shiee but taj Mahan was suni.
p- they came from Uzbekistan, I explained to you.
s- right
p- from salmacan. Two bloods, Turkish and mongolosh blood. From the father's side Babur was the first mogul emperor.
(s- moves the focus¿.)

2927 this lady of the taj mahal was the most favored wife of the taj Mahan. She died during childbirth. The 14th delivery at the age of 39.
s- don't you think it's a miracle she had 14th children?
p- 14th children by the age of 39 she died.
p- she was born in 1592, died in 1631, out of 14 only 6 survived. 4 were sons and two were daughters.
3010so this lady before her death she had the promises from the emperor. And the taj mahal was bond and built under that promise.
s- what was that promise?

3018 p- you are going to build something unique in my memory surpassing all of the mausoleums previously built and that other one is that you are not going to remarry , you are going to take good care of all my surviving children. So that is how emperor Shah Zihan fulfilled both his promises of the lady Mumtaz Mahal and that why it's the epitome of love. That is why it is called the supreme expression of love from a man to his wife and man for eternity.

s- you said when she died, his hair? Tell me about that.

p- it is said that after her death Emperor Shah Zihan, it is said that the beard of the emperor turned brown over night on account of extreme grief.
s- not brown white.
p- white or brown (Susan argues hair can't turn brown)
3109 like a white color
s- okay
s- can you tell me this again.
p- actually on account of extreme grief, after the death of his wife it is said that his hair turned white overnight. So and he was made a house captive.
There was two reasons he was very sad, one that he lost his wife and the second reason that he was made a house captive by his own son.

3146s- he promised her the one he would take care of.
p- he was the third son of the this emperor who got him disposed. Made him house captive in Agra for almost like 7 years. The emperor died in house arrest. And this guy also killed his other brothers for power. So he died very much sad on account of the loss of his three sons and the loss of his wife as well and the deeds of his third son.

3212 s- on the other hand as I remember shah jihan himself was there for the murder of his father and his own brothers. Ah?
3222 p- Shah Jehan for his own father. Actually his father died a natural death mam.

s- oh he did. Okay. (clarification of family and brothers, not valuable to Susan seemingly)
3250s- it was a tough time.
p- it was a time of controversies, as well as too many conspiracies. The harem was a big center of conspiracies. The might of sword used to prevail.
3308- nothing like to today. It is the democratic system (laughter)
s-viva la democracie

s- speaking with guests, you like taj mahal.
guy-Yes very much.
s-Why you like
g-Good design good workmanship, that is why he likes the taj mahal.

s-What is that.
s-What is this called
c-Taj mahal.
s-How old are you
s-You are big. You speak English?
Man-Yes, no Hindi
s-And this is your child.
Okay chee, see you later.
[ review with Jessica-Okay lets think what else.3554-3520]

s- they call this the 8th wonder of the world, what is the reason for that?
p- actually mam, because is on account of the workmanship. Perfection of his style. Above all being the supreme thing the monument of the love. So that is why we call it. Because before that, they made the list of , and now we are doing, you should also vote for the taj mahal to be included as a wonder.
s- do you know what the 7 other wonders are?
p-hanging gardens of Babylon, the Egyptian pyramids, colossus of gods, the leaning tower or pizza
so it's a very confusing list.
Some old and some not now existing,
p-the great wall of china
s- and the taj mahal
36:28s- how many have you seen of these wonders?
p- I have seen only the taj mam. I would like to see others.
s- and when you come Mr. Parma, you come so many times, don't you get tired of looking at it.
P- no every time you come here you have new experiences, Because beauty is something, your not fed up, because you know, its just to feel by heart. Every time I am coming here I find new experiences because it art for art sake.
s- what do you mean art for art sake.
p- just to feel, not like for commercial reason, just to feel to enjoy the beauty something like that.
s- one of the great pleasures.

s-so why do people care. People in America who will never have the chance to come?
they should I should ask the people of the states, all the people of everywhere in the world, I would like to invite them to come here and visit to see the glory of the taj mahal,. It is something to actually feel. No pictures, they can't give the idea of the taj, they can't really justify the beauty of the taj mahal as one who is likely to see it with their own eyes.
s- you are right, no picture really does it justice.

s- hi (to a small child), cute.

wind 3903 across the mic, stops 3914 (JESS)
3920, 29 wind again, American, Chinese?

3952 Bill relocates with Susan
s- say your name
I am XX from Bangalore.
s- and say your college?
Jioti university, navash college.
Second year college
And how old are you 19, 18. very old.

s- So girls if you had a young man who would make a monument like this to you for love, what do you think? 4056

giggles, we would be extremely happy, we'd be impressed, we'd be flattered , more than anything.

4112 s- so what do you think about this.
Did you want to see this all of your life?

Girls- yes it's been our dream, one of our dreams. This will be the first one that we will be seeing. So we are all excited

s- and why
g- 4129 it's supposed to be such an amazing place (in our country), in our country and we haven't been here until now, so

s- it's an amazing place anywhere, people come from all countries to see it.
g- the work is so beautiful, it's so nice.
s- describe some of the work to me.
G- we haven't gone in yet?
s- oh!! So this is your first view?
4250 yes this is our first view (unison!)
s-say it again- this is your first view?
g-Yes! (unison again)

s-and does it live up to your expectation.
g- yes, Very romantic place. Very romantic, seriously.
s- you said it met your expectations but sometimes you look forward to seeing something and it's a disappointment, not as good as you had hoped.
g- we didn't expect anything, we'd just heard things we didn't expect more than this. We are very happy looking at this.

s- so who can tell me the story of taj mihan and Mumtaz and 4244
and its building was built.
s- you have a very funny t-shirt have a nice day somewhere else.
Nothing on the back? You wouldn't want to be somewhere else today?
g- I told her to scratch it out an write today.

s-So who can tell me the story. Maybe all of you together. Of taj Mahan and Mumtaz and why he built this.
g-because of love, it was his love towards Mumtaz Mahal, when she passed away, he just couldn't take it, with the memory he just built this. in a very different way. Nobody else has done it, nobody else has constructed any building as such and it's so beautiful. He's done a very different art by showing his love

s- and he made it eternal, if you think about it. How many monument have lasted this long.

g- babasha Jan
he's a mogul emperor, arangazave. (Susan tells the story)

g- but the sad part is, the workers who worked for this, their hands and their tongues were cut off so they couldn't build another monument like this.

Yeah, so they couldn't tell how this whole thing was built. So it could be unique. So no one could build anything like this again.

4442 s- how do you know
s- did you make it up,
g-no (unison) we read it, we've been told about it (confident).

s- (girl in the back saying, ohmygod, ohmygod,nervously) Mr. Parma these girls were told me that after the taj was completed the workman's hands were cut off so that work like this could never be done again.
p- this is an allegorical expression. The real is that he never did that type of thing.

This is why it was said, because those people who work those jobs and they were got a job for almost 22years in the making of the taj mahal. (something about black onyx, marble??) recorded by someone.

In his travel account - he was likely to make a similar one right across the river and in that time we was disposed by his own son so those artisans had to flee to other parts of India.

s- wait who wanted to build another one?
Sha zihan

p- by the time orin zeb deposed his father and made him house prisoner artisans went to flee to find a better patron among small kings. And no art can survive without a good patron. And so it is said that the emperor chopped off the hands of the artisans because while some of them lost their jobs, it means they are losing their hands, its allegorical. That is how its said, but not really the truth I that case.

s- did you hear that ladies.
g- yeah.
s- not really allegorical but a euphemism. Like tying their hands. 4642
because their jobs were taken away. I don' t know
It's hard to know what to believe when the history is so old.

g- we have to go on listening to what people say 4656 and we haven't read it and go and confirm it in books

s-thank you!
We have lots of hopes to see the taj.

AMBI 47:33-4830
p- that is like a practical thing, those who did work here, those who use hand chisels, they use the force of fingertips and thumbs, and with the grinding of stones cut fingers and hands. So that is why it is said like that 5024

p- William finch French traveler.
s- what did he record.
He was the one that reported hands chopped off
p- 1624, while it was under construction.

5147 Susan and Jessica walk away.

AMBI 5210 keys jingle, general crowd. 5459 NOS

rajesh mesloe
agent from rajistan

my mother first, remeka reshna
and she is my wife nadini
my aunt sumitradi
and she is my grandmother

you do pranam to her
you wouldn't touch the feet of your wife, shame on you

s-when did you get married.
r- 27th November 2004
s- just a few weeks ago
r- one week
s- this is your honeymoon you have come here>
R- yes a pilgrimage and honeymoon with the whole family
she is from jitpoor.
s- so to come here, a temple of love
j- we are very excited to come here and it is the part of the 7th wonder of the world. Please pray for us to get all love in the love.
S- I pray for your to be as happy in your life.
And please tell her what I said to you.

She is very happy and excited also to meet you.

I just told her it is a symbol of love.

5940 talk of NPR and exchange of cards

introduce mother first because she introduced me into the world.
1:00:45 AMBI 1:01:35 (tape rewinding?)
1:01:42 AMBI 1:03:10

11140 OS flat ? at the TAJ
1:12:29 AMBI Rain, hose spilling water? 1:13:25

1:15:10 AMBI (with windscreen? Much quieter)

1:20:00 - 1:20:48 engine noises, going through traffic.
1:20:54-engine intermittent horn honking 1:21:54 pulls to a stop, woah. Variety of horns!
1:22:43 come inside please!
This way, want to buy a postcard? I really do want a camel ride (Susan says)
Merchants asking for sales, hello mam etc.
1:23:58 (woman on street- I love my India, very nice, India is good)
1:24:21 car alarm disabled, thank you sir
Snacking in the car, sound of snack bag.

Hello sir.

1:25:12 NEW PLACE AMBI-- train
Cacophony of voices intoning, metal grate, automated female voice
1:26:07 moving closer to male voices with repeated calls
1:26:58 quite a bit louder of male voices and train station, some footsteps
1:27:33 now silverware clanking too?
1:28:08 "oh pe dopee oh!" (Quite enthusiastic.)
1:28:57 gavel banging?
1:33:45 horn
1:34:23 footsteps, metal bucket, horns honking again
1:36:25 steam released, crickets? Birds
1:36:46 indoors, feet on tile, horn, sales attempt (man speaks to bill)
1:37:08 pick up again no speaking horns
1:39:26 hand clapping game, kids sing alphabet and then song goes on. And ends with alphabet again and chant, laughter continues. You are a ...goes on.
S-elephant, dance water buffalo.

Automated speaker and steam

1:43:26 on the train, fade out 00:00:38
1:43:51 doors closing or footsteps on grates, or train over tracks?

1:44:49 sounds like an "all aboard call" men's voices cacophony. Automated female voice. Footsteps. Walking by that automated voice changes ears.
1:45:53 jess and Susan
1:46:05 quieter but still men in background.

1:54:00 take off? Cart passing or wheels over uneven ground. Propeller sound speeding up/vol increasing slightly.
Seatbelt sound
1:55:18 something passes by, bumpy ride louder; squeaking brakes over the tracks can be heard. 1:56:07 less bumpy

2:00:14 MS Agra sixth of December 712 pm we are leaving Agra

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