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Published: January 30th 2007
So finally after 10 weeks traipsing across the Indian continent finally I made it to the Seventh Wonder of the World, the world most famous monument to love, what ever you want to call it I’m at the Taj Mahal! Holy Shit I finally made it here and it has not disappointed one bit. The building is absolutely astonishing; I’m not even sure how to describe it. It’s everything you imagine and see in photos but there’s an unwritten, unexplainable aura about the design, the building has a magical, ghostly quality that is so surreal. Standing at the entry overlooking the Taj with the water feature in the foreground, the haze of the morning fog, it all comes across as if it’s a movie set or something, surely this can’t be real a computer graphic on a blue screen or something. Surprisingly though I had expected the building to be smaller (I had it in my head that it would appear tiny) but it kind of risers out of the ground from nowhere and hovers on its startling plinth. For those that don’t know a short history lesson (but quick), the Taj Mahal was built in 1631 as a monument to
The Taj Mahal (through the fog)
Picture postcard perfect at sunrise,besides the morning fog - just damn cold.
love for his second wife (wonder what the first got) who died while giving birth to their 14 child. The building took 22 years to construct with a total of 20 000 workers. A little bit over the top maybe but the grandeur and presence of the structure is remarkable, a stand alone masterpiece that has be described as ‘a teardrop on the face of eternity’. No matter where you stand the building is surreal from every angle. Its quite surprising how noticeable that the four decorated minarets, that adorn each corner, are not perpendicular and slant slightly outwards, a design feature in the event of an earth quake to stop damn to the main building. Its these little things that you really start to notice that photographs just can’t capture. The internal chambers though are a little disappointing as they lack light and is scarcely simple, but mind you it is a mausoleum guarding a tomb inside, so what do you expect. The external qualities of the mausoleum that are it strong hold, the glowing marble façade that seems to shimmer in every light, The Taj is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular buildings of the world.
The Taj Mahal
The sun slowly rising.
braving the morning chill to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise (a chilly 5 degrees) and also to beat the gathering tourist crowd, John and I headed to Agra’s Red Fort, oh yes another fort. Admittedly though this has to be one of the most well kept examples, the condition of the stonework, the upkeep of the gardens, everything was in brilliant condition. Of course with this means that the touts are out in force at every tourist sight, so getting into the attraction, battling through the constant hassle and sales pitches can be tiresome, and then there’s the entry fee to these places, locals pay one price, foreigners another, only 75 times as much, ha. A lot of people said to avoid Agra, do the Taj and get out, but in all honesty the city had quite a lot to offer and was far more relaxed than some of the other scrappy cities visited.
Now contrary to many peoples beliefs, the Taj is in Agra and not in Delhi, Delhi is a mere 5 hour bus ride away. Now initial thoughts of Delhi were that the place was going to be dirty, hetic, overwhelming and down right unpleasant,
The Taj Mahal
Front facade with minaret in the background.
you hear so many horror stories on the road and most people aren’t overly keen on it. But in all honesty it didn’t phase me to much. Weather it’s the Indian conditioning after being here for a while now or the fact that most people see Delhi as an arrival or departure lounge for major flights, Delhi is actually an amazing city, comprising modern influences and traditions pasts, being named subsequently New Delhi and Old Delhi. Although the pollution is devastating and rivals both K.L. and Bangkok, the streets in New Delhi are surprising clean, the roads wide and clear lined with modern buildings, markets, shops and arcades. And admittedly I did take the opportunity to do a spot of shopping. Picked up a few bargins, prices that I can’t share because its just to cheap to even comprehend. The best buys have to be a new leather jacket and I couldn’t resist purchasing a hand made tailored suit; well I have a wedding in a couple of months that I’m going to need to look prim and proper (don’t panic Brendan/Cherie, I’ll scrub up ok now). Meanwhile Old Delhi, and the Main Bazaar is a miss-mash of Indian markets,
The Taj Mahal
The main entry, and glowing white marble facade.
shops, restaurants, the homeless, rubbish, tuk tuk’s and of course cows. Typical India. Generally though the main bazaar is a good place to wander around, eat, drink and pick up on any bargains that were missed along the way at the markets.
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