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architecture and the solstices

4 February 2015

At www.livescience.com/49660-taj-mahal-gardens-align-solstice-sun.html … the Taj Mahal in India, built by a Moghul emperor following the death of one of his wives, is aligned to sun rise on midsummer day. It rises above a pavilion in the garden and the sun sets on the same day behind another pavilion. The mausoleum and minarets of the Taj Mahal are located between these two pavilions.

The garden was built in a Persian style that is thought to have a symbolic association with the Garden of Eden. Four main canals flow out of a central spring to the four corners of the world. It is likely that many other gardens in the past were also aligned to the solstices – as were many temples and palaces. This doesn't in any way imply a worship of the Sun as the Taj Mahal is laid out on a perfect north to south axis and the architects probably used the solstice sun to determine their lay out.

The alignments were discovered by using an app called Sun Calc which uses Google Earth satellite images to calculate the direction at which the Sun rises and sets on a given day and location. Don't all rush out to download the app – but what a wonderful gadget when messing about around stone circles in unlikely topography.

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