Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Red Taj (The tomb of John Hessing), Agra built by a wife in memory of her husband!

Red Taj, Agra ranasafvi.com
Red Taj, Tomb of John Hessing. Agra  ranasafvi.com
 The beautiful  Taj Mahal built by Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal is one of the world famous monuments entirely made of high quality white marble during the Mogul period. Almost every day thousands of people visit this site in Agra, near Delhi to enjoy the grandeur and beauty of this fine building which is symbolic of love of a famous ruler toward his wife who gave  him inspiration  and moral support during his tumultuous reign. So Agra is synonymous with the Taj, one of the most visited monuments in the world.
Red Taj, Tomb of John Hessing. Agra  cityseeker.com
Have you ever heard of yet another Taj  called ''Red Taj'' or ''The tomb of John Hessing'' in the same city-Agra? Do you know it was built by a woman as a symbol of her love to him? In these two monuments, expression of eternal love  and memory was the main theme that remains etched in pages of history. In Agra, if you run into one  that is almost like a replica of the Taj, you are in surprise. It was built by one Ann, wife of  one John Hessing as an expression of her deep love for her husband who happened to be a military man in India. Because of  wide publicity, articles in magazines and newspapers, people visiting Agra, never fail to make a beeline to the marble edifice  Taj, but they give less importance to other monuments like old colonial churches and equally interesting monuments. The Red Taj is left out by countless tourists for reasons of either poor publicity or sheer ignorance.
This not yet well-explored edify  also known as John Hessing Tomb is built in Indo-Mogul style. Believe it or not, people have mentioned that  because of its simplicity and color of the stone the Red Taj  has a unique charm about it which is quite irresistible. The stricture  stands on a square platform with a corridor around, and an  impressive dome that  adds extra beauty to this site. 

Inside the central hall lies  the grave of  John Hessing with a few English inscriptions  engraved on his tomb. Inscriptions read: ... the deceased colonel was a Dutchman, who died Commandant of Agra, in his 63rd year, 21 July 1803, just before (Col) Lake's successful siege of the place   It is almost a mirror  image of the Taj in style  and design, but its simple but conventional structure makes it more interesting. Unlike the highly embellished Taj that is big this one is  far smaller than the original. The tomb, is believed to have been  completed in or about the year of the British conquest.
Red Taj, Tomb of John Hessing. Agra gen.wikipedia.org
In those days countless Europeans settled in India for religious freedom and took up jobs with various kingdoms. The pay was good and they were happy;  many of them took employment in construction work and also in the armies.  John Hessing (5 November 1739 - 21 July 1803), a Dutch traveler, became an employee in the service of the Maratha army  and served in the 18th and 19th centuries, commanding big troops. Marathas headed by Daulat rao Scindia quite satisfied with his hard work and dedication,  in 1799  put him   in charge of  the Agra Fort and its command. The East India company Army  had a row with the Marathas who had successfully blocked their land-grabbing spree in this part. Frequent skirmishes were common between the English company and the Marathas. The British Army in the year 1803 raided the Agra  in order to get it under their control  the Second Anglo-Maratha War). Unfortunately, the commander John Hessing, despite his stiff resistance to  guard the fort, was killed in action in Agra on 21 July 1803 in the battlefield. Earlier,  Hessing commanded 3000 Maratha regular troops in the Battle of Kardla, where the army defeated the Nizam of Hyderabad on 12 March 1795.

Devastated and grief-stricken,  his wife Ann Hessing wanted to do something in honor of her husband. So, she  commissioned this monument almost on the model of the Taj in memory of Hessing, but chose red stone as the main construction material

The Red Taj is no longer a forgotten historical monument of simplicity and beauty. But, it bears testimony to the colonial era when European travelers, traders and and mercenaries lived in India comfortably and got a name for  themselves in various Indian kingdoms and proved their loyalty to them. In this respect John Hessing  was a military officer who gave his life for the Marathas to save the Agra Fort from the EIC army. The Red Taj or Hessing Tomb is  inside  Padretola, or Padresanto, a Catholic Christian cemetery in Agra. 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hessinghttps://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/destinations/a-red-taj-in-memory-of-a-beloved-husband/as65951165.