Maharajas' Express Blog

Explore Agra and Its Ancient Art Forms- with Maharajas’ Express

The following blog talks about the ancient art of Parchin Kari or Pietra dura in Agra. It talks about how it has been passed from one generation of an artisan to the other and still continues to thrive.

Pietra dura in Agra

India has a concoction of various dynasties and cultures that have lured tourists from far and wide. Each and every place in India portrays a milieu of diversity and the alluring city of Agra is no exception. The serene city is established on the banks of river Yamuna and borrows its iridescence from centuries of Mughal rule; the city is famous for its monumental icon of love, Taj Mahal.

Agra ancient art

Taj Mahal which translates to “Crown of Palaces” is an opulently built cenotaph for the famous Mughal queen, Mumtaz Mahal. It is said that it took more than 20 years to build Taj Mahal and the best of artisans were gathered by the emperor Shah Jahan that worked under the supervision of the famous erstwhile architect, Ustad Ahmad Lahouri. This grandiose monument has been artistically built and interestingly this unique art of marble inlay didn’t die down even after centuries and still thrives in Agra.

Ancient Art Forms

This art requires precision and involves embedding precious stones in marble framework. This art was used in building Taj Mahal and still continues to live through descendants of artisans who built Taj Mahal. This art is known as Pietra dura but in Agra it has been popularized as “Parchin Kari”. Pietra Dura developed in Ancient Rome and the in Italian it means, “hard stones”. The art reached India through the lands of Europe by early 17th century and was then imitated by Mughals in a native style. This art can be compared to the game of jigsaw puzzle but unlike puzzles, the surface of marble has to be precisely cut, then a loose arrangement is prepared before finally putting the stones. The undersides of stones are accurately grooved so they fit perfectly and this has to be carried meticulously with utmost care.

Read also: Agra A sight to behold, and Taj Mahal is just the beginning

Taj Mahal exhibits various types of Parchin Kari one can notice the simplest form of this art in the complex where a beautiful colored pattern is created using colored marbles and sandstones. A little-complicated style is created using colored stone and marble and these are arranged into beautiful floral patterns and intricate geometrical designs. Apart from Taj Mahal, this intricate art of marble inlay can also be found in the tomb of Itmad Ud Daulah, which is often known as “Baby Taj” or “Jewel Box”.

Tourists can visit the enthralling city of Agra with astounding opulence in Maharajas’ Express, world’s leading luxury train. This city is included in all the pan-Indian itineraries and tourists not only explore the majestic Taj Mahal but this is followed by a lavish champagne breakfast at a luxurious venue overlooking the majestic cenotaph. Tourists can also choose to explore the markets and get themselves a marble inlay artwork as a souvenir. To get the authentic essence of the city, tourists can take such luxurious heritage tours to Agra.