THE PEARL MOSQUE, AGRA, INDIA — No city in India equals Agra in respect to fine and wonderful architecture. Here, for example, is that marvelous tomb, the Taj Mahal, which is almost universally acknowledged to be the most beautiful edifice in the world; here also is the enormous Citadel of Agra, about two miles in circuit, and surrounded by a moat 30 feet wide and 35 feet deep and by walls 70 feet in height! It is within this fortified enclosure that most of the famous structures, built by the Moguls at Agra, are located. Among them is the “Pearl Mosque,” which is unquestionably one of the most elegant and elaborate edifices ever reared by man. It was begun in 1648 and finished in 1655. The exterior is of red sandstone, but its courtyard, which is no less than 155 feet square, is entirely lined with marble from its pavement to the summit of its snow-white domes. In the center is a marble basin, 38 feet square, designed for ablutions. Around it is a marble cloister of great beauty. On one side is an inscription consisting of letters of black marble inlaid into the white. It declares that this charming mosque may be likened to a precious pearl, since no other is completely lined as this is, with marble. Bishop Heber said of this mosque, “This spotless sanctuary, showing such a pure spirit of adoration, made me, a Christian, feel humbled when I considered that no architect of our religion had ever been able to produce anything equal to this temple of Allah.” (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

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