Taj Mahal & Her Baby Sister

[S02E17] The Taj was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and the whole complex was completed in 1653. It is a mausoleum using Persian, Turkish and Indian styles of architecture. The building needs no introduction, it’s one of the most visited tourist sites in the world. If you decide to go there, do what we did and get up really early!

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Snobs In Fatehpur Sikri

[S02E16] Fatehpur Sikri consists of two areas: The huge Jama Masjid, the second largest mosque in India, and the Palace of Akbar. For a short while Akbar made Fatehpur Sikri the capital of his empire. He spent 15 years building the mosque, the palace, harems, courts, water features and other buildings and drew his influences from Persia. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is not to be missed, but if you can’t make it, then listen to this week’s podcast to get a great idea of what the fuss is all about.

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Fatehpur Sikri: City of Victory

Cliché or no cliché, Akbar’s ‘City of Victory’ really does “rise majestically” from a barren rocky plateau. Referring back to my note book, before writing up this visit, I found a string of exclamations: “The scale! Location and position! Extraordinary! Fabulously well-maintained! Power! More palace than fort!” An extraordinary place…

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Suakin Old Town

One of the most striking things about the seaward entrance to Suakin is the dominance of a whole bunch of buildings that look as though they have been shot to pieces. This is Suakin Old Town and the reason these decrepit buildings look so ramshackle is because they are made of coral and collapsed in an earthquake. Some more pics for your entertainment…

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You Have Church Bells, We Have Mullahs

Yesterday was Friday, holy day here in Egypt, and there is no mistaking it! All day the town reverberated with the sound of the mullah calling the men to prayer, a sound that is amplified through the many speakers adorning the minarets. Jamie jumped on his bike and recorded a little tour of these sounds, which are quite extraordinary to the western ear.

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Church or Mosque?

It’s a most startling and incongruous sight. In fact I found it impossible to suppress a slightly hysterical giggle at what had happened to this old monument to Catholicism. (During later sight-seeing forays I saw other, similarly changed, monuments of Christian worship, all of which triggered this irrepressible giggle.)

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