Last week, the northwest of Rajasthan was cooler and foggier than the previous two weeks of our tour. Consequently this atmospheric early morning view over Gadisar Lake, Jaisalmer.  

Gloom aside, colour is never very far away in India.

This man was watching the busy traffic at the entrance to the Jaisalmer Fort...

...and the combination of bougainvillaea and broccoli in the hotel garden was very eye- catching.

The cherry tree frieze, above, is from the tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg *, grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal.

As is this beautifully decorated ceiling. Painted with crushed stone pigments, lapis lazuli for example, it is still amazingly vibrant after nearly 400 years.

In the tomb of Akbar the Great *, to demonstrate the original appearance of the decoration, this wall panel in lapis and gold leaf has been restored recently .

But not the domed ceiling above in the entrance. Akbar was an enlightened ruler and tolerant of the religious plurality of his empire.

I was moved by the modesty of the unadorned room in which his grave is set.

This is the shadow of the only ornament in the room.

At last we came to one of the world's most iconic buildings, the Taj Mahal.

Here, seen through the entrance gate of the outer courtyard, it was created as the tomb for Mumtaz Mahal, the third wife, and favourite, of Shah Jahan - the fifth of the Mughal Emperors of north India.


One of the things that has surprised me in this journey of discovery in India has been the degree of two-way exchange of artistic ideas between India and Europe, over more than 2000 years. I have seen many mughal buildings with Florentine wall designs and also pillars with corinthian capitals * .

Taking this link in an odd direction, this week's ikebana is of two acanthus leaves and one acanthus flower-head.

Greetings from Christopher, in Agra
22nd January 2016

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