We left Delhi bright and early the next day. I was quite excited as I wasn’t really bowled over by the city. It has amazing monuments but it’s huge and chaotic and I was looking forward to seeing the country side.
It took us forever to leave the built up area. Delhi spreads quite far south and into the next city. Traffic got a bit better once we were out in the countryside but road rules were still non-existent. While serving out for trucks, cycles and carts, Hubby got educated on karma and marriage in India by our driver, Pradeep.
We have realised that while driving looks chaotic, there is actually a system. Hooting and flashing your lights all mean things, like I’m about to pass you, or don’t play chicken with me, I’m not going to swerve out of your way. There is also a hierarchy. The biggest truck wins.
We arrived in Agra in the afternoon. It was already quite hot but it didn’t fizzle our spirits. Our first stop was the Agra Fort. It’s pretty big. Originally built out of bricks, it belonged to the Hindu Sikarwar Rajputs. Eventually the Mughals gained control. The current fort was built by Shah Jahan. He would eventually be imprisoned in the fort by his son, Aurangzeb. What amazed me was just the amount of detail in everything, from arches to the fountains.
Hubby and I got asked by 2 girls if we would pose with them for a photo. Apparently they liked our Indian clothes, as I was wearing a salwar kameezt and Hubby his kurta pajamas. The funny thing was that the two Indian girls were both dressed in jeans and t-shirts.
We got to see our first glimpse of the Taj Mahal from the fort. We also saw the crematorium on the banks of the Yamuna River.
After exploring the amazing fort we made our way to the Taj Mahal. Initially Hubby and I both thought that sure, we’re in India, and we should see the Taj. But we had no idea how magnificent it really is. The sheer size of it is far bigger that we ever imagined and the amount of detail in the carvings and inlays are just amazing. You enter through the Great Gate, which in itself is beautiful.
Construction of the Taj Mahal started in 1632 and was completed in 1653. On certain stones you can see inscriptions made by the builders. Each workforce had their own unique symbol and worked on a specific section of the complex. The complex is built in Persian and Hindu styles and you enter via a huge gateway. The Taj is symmetrical on all sides and is flanked by a mosque and meeting hall. Verses of the Qur’an decorate the walls of the complex.
No amount of words can describe how big and amazing it is. You will have to go and see for yourself.
We spend the night at a guest house outside the city in the suburbs. It was very nice except we visited India during wedding season. A wedding was in full swing next door. Luckily we packed earplugs and were fast asleep in a matter of minutes. I woke up after midnight to realise the power was out (a daily occurrence in India) and that the air-conditioner was no longer keeping us cool. Luckily the power came back quite quickly as it was stifling hot.
The next morning we visited the garden located across the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal. We wanted one last view of the Taj. The garden was recently restored and is a rare quiet spot where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Taj for a fraction of the cost. We were stopped by a couple who asked if I would pose for a photo. They were really nice and the girl was beautiful in her pink sari.
After bidding farewell to the Taj we were on the road again dodging buffaloes and motorbikes driving up the wrong way. We were heading for Gwalior. But that’s a story for next time.