Page C1.2 . 14 February 2001                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
  • Online Trip to the Taj Mahal
  • The Theaters of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates
  • Postcard from East Kazakhstan
  • Saving Wright's Gordon House
  • Just Another Pretty Web Site?

      Current Contents
      Blog Center
      Download Center
      New Products
      Products Guide
      Classic Home
      Architecture Forum
      Architects Directory
      Topics Library
      Complete Archive
      Web Directory
      About ArchWeek
      Subscribe & Contribute
      Free Newsletters


    [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Online Trip to the Taj Mahal


    The 25 "video essays" describe the main architectural features of the monument. The photographers were permitted to go beyond the extensive wooden and metal tourist screens inside the monument to capture superior views of the walls with their inlaid gemstone and marble carvings.

    Although many of the "movies" are actually sequences of still images, those images are larger, and thus in some ways more appealing and informative, than typical QuickTime movies. The Web site is now available in English, French and Japanese, with additional languages to follow.

    William Beckett, Armchair Travel's director of business and marketing claims that to see and hear everything on the Web site would take over two hours. "This makes it the most comprehensive guided tour of a historic site yet produced on the Web," he says. "This site should make the monument available to a wide range of virtual visitors who would otherwise never be able to see
    its splendor."

    Through virtual tours we learn about both the historical background of the Taj Mahal and details of the remarkable building's construction. About the decorative Guldastas, or pinnacles, for instance, which add a sense of height to the complex. And the minarets from which the muezzin calls the Islamic faithful to prayer five times a day. And we learn the significance of quadrangles and waterways in the layout of the grounds.

    The narrations explain details that might be lost on the casual observer. For example, the extensive calligraphy and floral patterns are, on closer inspection, colored marble inlaid in white marble. With a technique called Parchin Kari, inlaid gemstones of lapis lazuli, agate, and garnet were selected for their variations in tone, giving the resulting flowers an illusion of depth.

    The Web site's creators do not shy away from the seamier side of tourism: the marble-damaging air pollution exacerbated by human and automotive traffic. They hope that with sites such as this one, a greater number of visitors can enjoy such monuments without actually going there and further threatening the buildings' existence.

    The company further helps by channeling donations to the Taj Mahal's preservation. (Of course, it's impossible to know how often the reverse is true, that such Web sites encourage real travel.)

    "Explore the Taj Mahal" is the third in a series of "World Heritage Explorer" Web sites created by Armchair Travel. The London-based company has employed a technique it has developed over ten years called "Virtual Travel," based on proprietary photographic techniques and Apple's QuickTime VR.

    William Donelson, Armchair Travel's director of technology and design asserts: "With the arrival high-speed Internet access, people will increasingly look to the World Wide Web for entertainment as well as information, and travel seems likely to prove one of the most popular subjects."

    Other destinations from Armchair Travel include St. Paul's Cathedral, the Parliament, and the Royal Palace of Westminster. The Company plans upcoming releases of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the ruins at Petra in Jordan, and other World Heritage sites.



    ArchWeek Photo

    Armchair Travel offers a virtual tour of the Taj Mahal through narrated QuickTime movies and animations.
    Photo:, 2000 Armchair Travel Co. Ltd.

    ArchWeek Photo

    The minarets were constructed slightly out of plumb so that if they ever topple, they will fall away from the Taj Mahal.
    Photo:, 2000 Armchair Travel Co. Ltd.

    ArchWeek Photo

    The decorative Guldastas, or pinnacles, add a sense of height to the complex.
    Photo:, 2000 Armchair Travel Co. Ltd.

    ArchWeek Photo

    The spandrels of the arches are adorned with delicate floral arabesques.
    Photo:, 2000 Armchair Travel Co. Ltd.

    ArchWeek Photo

    By the Jali entrance to the Cenotaphs.
    Photo:, 2000 Armchair Travel Co. Ltd.

    ArchWeek Photo

    Passages from the Koran are inscribed with calligraphy in black marble inlaid in white marble.
    Photo:, 2000 Armchair Travel Co. Ltd.

    ArchWeek Photo

    Parchin Kari: gemstones such as lapis lazuli and garnet inlaid in marble.
    Photo:, 2000 Armchair Travel Co. Ltd.

    ArchWeek Photo

    Four domed kiosks flank the great dome of the Taj Mahal.
    Photo:, 2000 Armchair Travel Co. Ltd.


    Click on thumbnail images
    to view full-size pictures.

    < Prev Page Next Page > Send this to a friend       Subscribe       Contribute       Advertise       Privacy       Comments
    GREAT BUILDINGS   |   DISCUSSION   |   SCRAPBOOK   |   COMMUNITY   |   BOOKS   |   FREE 3D   |   ARTIFICE   |   SEARCH © 2001 Artifice, Inc. - All Rights Reserved