William H. Seward's Travels around the World

By Olive Risley Seward; William Henry Seward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX.
SECUNDRA AND THE TAJ-MAHAL

The Tomb of Akbar.--Derivation of the Name of Secundra.--The Taj-Mahal, the Tomb of the Banoo Begum.--Description of the Taj.--The Tomb of King Cotton.--The Inferiority of Indian Cotton.--Mode of Packing it.

THE plain over which we drove, five miles to Secundra, shows some imambarras and other less pretentious Moorish tombs, all dilapidated or in ruins. The great imambarra, here called simply the tomb of Akbar, stands on a terrace of moderate elevation, in the centre of an immense garden, which overlooks the Jumna. The entrance to the garden is through a Saracenic gate-way, with a white marble minaret rising on either side, and towering high above the apex of the lofty arch. Besides a profusion of roses and other flowering shrubs, the garden makes a rich display of mango, orange, date, palm, perpul, and banyan trees. The perpul, with its branches bending in the wind and trailing on the ground, is emblematic of mourning in the East, as the willow is in the West. A series of oblong marble fountains, stretching down a terraced slope, filled with the lotus and other aquatic plants, divides into two parts the grand avenue which leads through the gate from the garden to the tomb. The imambarra covers a space of three hundred feet, upon a platform of white marble four hundred feet square. It has five stories, each upper story being of smaller dimensions than the one beneath it. The four lower stories are built of red sandstone--the upper one, including floor, dome, and cupola, is of

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