Taj Mahal

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July 16th 2009
Published: July 17th 2009
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 Video Playlist:

1: On the way to Agra Vid 2 22 secs
2: On the way to Agra Vid 3 23 secs
3: Vid 4 6 secs
4: Vid 5 21 secs
5: Vid 5 26 secs

1 additional video(s) currently being processed
I'll be typing this one today (Richy) so you'd better all enjoy it cause its going to be awesome. Well, saw the Taj Mahal today. What an amazing place that is! The drive was a bit long, took 2.5 times as long to travel the same distance as you would in oz, but that's what you get over here.

But before we get to that, an update on Narn's presentation and the conference. Narn's presentation went really well and she also has another university interested in doing collaborative research with the team.

Now back to our adventure; we pulled up on the way to get something to eat for breakfast, around 1.5km over the border (into the next state - Rajastan?) at a nice place that had good food - it was obviously geared to tourists with all the things for sale on the way in - and was clean. The New Maharajah Motel I think it was called. The border was a bit of an interesting experience, we stopped and our driver got out to pay taxes and while we were sitting there, people would wander up with monkeys (they looked like they may have done tricks if you had paid them) and selling jewelry. Not wanting to draw attention to ourselves, we just ignored them, but one guy was probably the most persistent I have seen in India. He tapped on the window for quite a while. Good for him.

One thing to note about the trucks (they call them lorries over here) on the road - they are mainly Tata's (the brand) and they are all decorated with writing and lines/stripes/dots and things (our driver assured us that this was because they wanted to make them look "nice"). There doesn't seem to be any sort of governing design objective with this decorating, its just a matter of if you've got the colour and a spare patch of truck, throw some on. They are also adorned with bits of tinsel and other things, including hubcaps.
Something I found amusing were the signs that were written on the back. There were a few that were on the back of pretty much every truck we saw - blow horn (or please honk) and keep distance. We also passed some tankers with Indian Oil badging on the side. On the back of these were: Highly Infamble. Just thrown in a spark and these bad boys would famble on to the early morn.

It really was quite pleasant country on the way down, lots of rice paddies, plenty of Brahman's, some sort of water buffalo looking lads and a handful of camels. It had also rained recently so most of it was green.

We then got to Agra. Agra is pretty similar to Delhi in that there is still poverty everywhere and the trucks, cars, bikes and rickshaws are all exactly the same (though I did see a BMW 740 tonight - that was a bit exciting). That is, Tata Indica's, Suzuki Swifts and Alto's and trillions of Honda Hero's in all their forms. You seem to be able to buy these honda's in just about any capacity you want - all the way from 100cc up to around 190cc. I'm not really sure on the pricing but I can't imagine (actually I know) that there is much difference in performance from a 135 to a 140. They all have different names too - Glorious, Splendor, Apache, Adventure, etc... crazy stuff. I'm looking forward to seeing bikes that will do over 100 and have names with "blade" in them again.

Anyway, we got into Agra and met up with a guide to take us through the Taj Mahal. This was good because given where everything was, we wouldn't have had much luck finding it ourselves in the given amount of time. The guide was a funny bloke - for probably the first ten minutes, all the things that he said were in reference to how the taj mahal looked. Things that I would have said anyway, even though I hadn't been there before. Once we started moving away from the North Gate (the one we came through, leading into the actual Taj Mahal area) he started to pull us up at different points and say things like "notice how before the dome looked bigger than the spires? now the dome looks smaller!" Wow. Perspective. Its a bit like crouching down in front of something smaller than you are and saying that its an optical illusion that it now looks bigger. I learnt that when I started to walk.

But once we got in, he did have some interesting facts to tell us. So that was good. We also got our photos taken by a guy from the gate at different points throughout the courtyard of the Taj. He had them printed out for us and in a book by the time we were ready to leave. They're good photos too. They are all in cahoots with each other too - the guide and the photo man, etc. It would be annoying if you didn't expect it and prices were reasonable anyway, so it didn't really matter.

About the Taj Mahal itself - it truly is quite amazing. The king at the time built it as a Mausoleum for his wife and long story short, he ended up being interred next to her after he died. The whole thing is marble inlaid with different rocks like topaz, lapislazuli, etc. to get the colours into it. Its really quite simple inside, just the two tombs (the replicas anyway, the real ones were downstairs) in an area that pretty mush follows the shape of the outside, of course only smaller. It was a great thing to see and we both really enjoyed it, even though it was a long day.

and now for tiana's turn...there are some videos up with this blog. Bit blurry cause I had to take them through the car window. Also a heap of photos. The one's of us standing near the Taj we already got taken by the professional photography at the Taj. So there are none of these to upload. You will all just have to wait til we get home to see them.

Side note: Grandma Hopper - I hope you are enjoying our stories and that Aunty Carol is doing a good job reading them to you 😊. Love narn and richie.

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17th July 2009

Hey that is cool, the Taj Mahal seems like the place to be. Poor guide man, I still tend to think that perspective is a trick of the light gnomes too. Maybe they have more of those in india.
20th July 2009

Cool trip man.. well just a correction - those motorcycles are Hero Honda brands - nothing to do with Honda there. The pricing is from 770 (for 100cc) AUD to about 2300 AUD( for 250cc) - not that it matters, just for trivia. cheers
22nd July 2009

Did you get in the water feature like that guy in pic7160063?

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