AGRA, India (Nov. 1, 2009) -Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 14th Regiment, "Strykehorse," 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division made a memorable pit stop at one of the seven wonders of the world while traveling home from Exercise Yudh Abhyas 09, an annual bilateral field training exercise between the Indian and U.S. Army.
After a month of intense training, more than 170 U.S. Soldiers walked into the Taj Mahal, a white marble palace built in 1654 on the banks of the Yamuna River.
"I'm from a pretty small town and I never thought I'd get a chance to see one of the wonders of the world," said Pfc. Sawyer Stubbe, an information technology specialist from the squadron.
Squadron Soldiers took tours through the famous mosque and tomb, learning about the history and culture of the building and its grounds.
Both a mosque and tomb, the Taj Mahal features intricate carvings, elaborate ornamentation and is covered in precious gemstones. As many as 28 different varieties of semi-precious and precious stones were used to adorn it with elaborate inlay work. The structural style of the monument is a fusion of Persian, Central Asian and Islamic architecture, with symmetry a function throughout.
However, the story behind the Taj Mahal makes it much more than just a beautiful building.
The inspiration for its construction. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, had it built in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal as a deathbed promise.
The name "Taj Mahal" was derived from Mumtaz Mahal's name and means "Crown Palace." Mumtaz Mahal was the third wife of Shah Jahan, and gave birth to 14 of the emperor's children. The monument and complex are dedicated to her, from him.
"I think it's the greatest dedication of absolute love the world has ever seen," said Staff Sgt. Frederick Bolden, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, munitions division, operations non-commissioned officer in charge. Bolden was attached to the squadron as part of the exercise. "To me it was an honor to see something that one man built as what he saw to be only a small token of affection for his wife."
The other most recent list of wonders of the world, according to www.cnn.com, are, as of July 2007, the Great Wall of China, Petra in Jordan, Brazil's statue of Christ the Redeemer, Peru's Machu Picchu, Mexico's Chichen Itza Pyramid and the Rome Coliseum.
For more information about Exercise Yudh Abhyas 09, visit www.usarpac.army.mil/yudhabhyas.