Saturday, 26 November 2011

Symmetry and Geometry

Akbar's Tomb in Sikandra on the outskirts of Agra is a gem. It was my clear favourite on our trip to Agra and Sikri. There is such a lot of hype over the Taj Mahal and such a mad tourist rush there. Compared to the Taj, I found Sikandra quiet and dignified as a tomb should be. The inlay work was exquisite. 

Some of the geometric patterns involving white marble inlay on red sandstone are mind-boggling. Considering I had to retry and erase several times before I got these to look the way they do in a simple line drawing, it's really stupefying to think of the work done centuries ago - the attention to detail and the sheer level of skill.

My sketch doesn't give a sense of the scale of these patterns. They are huge in comparison to the human scale and help make the towering monuments look less gigantic. It was hard enough to draw them separately that my courage ran out and I didn't try to put them on the walls of the building. 

The play of geometry is, of course, not just in these inlay friezes that adorn the main entrance gateways. They start with the arrangement of the spaces in plan, and the massing of the building. Cardinal directions and the spiritual axis give us repetetive 6 sided and 8 sided geometries in the arrangement of chambers, openings, flooring patterns and finally the surface ornamentation.  The layers of complexity are infinite and you can discover as much as you have time for. 


  1. This is a very interesting post. Your sketch and your description of Akbar's monument make me want to visit Sikandra as soon as possible.

  2. love post! I agree, it makes me want to go there again :)

  3. thank you guys! surkhi - its just around the corner. go go and don;t go on a weekend like me. will be even quieter.