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Published: November 12th 2006
The Taj Mahal
"A tribute to beauty. A Monument of love, a celebration of a woman built in marble"
The rest of our Delhi days were jam-packed...
We spent the rest of our time sightseeing and eating curry - mine always veg of course as I bet with Simon before we came. It is an amazing place, lots of history that dates back thousands of years - the red fort, himayan's tomb (a morseleum actually built by the wife for her husband's death which is quite unusual), the qubt minar - a 73m high tower built in the 16th century and still standing very proud - and Inidan Gate a tribute built for 90,000 Indians killed in WWI. It was a Sunday when we were doing most of this and therefore we shared a lot of our experiences with locals and Indian tourists which enables us really to enjoy both the sights and the culture. I think a lot of westerners avoid Delhi and really come visit Agra and the Taj Mahal, but to see some of these sights first really prepares you grandeur that lies ahead.
So, the Taj
- as the locals say
Our journey to this seventh wonder was an emotional one for me. There we were on our 6.15am express train - infact
Peace and Tranquility
Watching the world go by, sat on a bench, shoes off, with a view that is out of this world
the Bhopal Express - it was named, another devastating story - sat in our seats, drinking tea, eating breakfast, excited about where we are about to go, still feeling a little bit sleeping from our 5.15 wake up but all very comfortable thanks... and we start to travel through what must be some of the poorest shanty areas on the outskirts of both cities - people walking along the tracks, children watching as the train passes, waving and running with the train. People huddled around small fires outside what looks like a shack made of mud and what you know is there home and there we are in our little bubble. I am not sure how it really makes me feel but it is very, very sad and makes you get a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye. I wonder whether these children know any different or whether they stand by the tracks dreaming of a time...
When we arrive at Agra we go by car to the Taj site, we share with our new friends John and Marta - he is from North Yorkshire and she is from the Czech Rep. They are on
The sheer size of it...
and feeling super-imposed.
their honeymoon and were staying at Yatri House. He is hilarious, such a broad accent which she has picked up Czech style which is very amusing - and he has done quite a lot of travelling, so you can imagine them stories 'ut dog bites in South America, etc in that broad, thick yorksha accent. I digress..
So, the building itself is hidden from the road by a long path once again laden with rick-shaws, monkeys - not sure whether I have introduced these already - they just kind of hang out by the roadside, in trees, etc. - and small children wanting a piece of us and our rupees or my bananas.
It takes about 10 minutes to walk the path and then you get to a gate where you pay, get searched and see you first glimpse...
It is boiling hot, it is only 9am, it is still slightly hazy and we are speeding up our walk to get a better view. Our first full landscape look is one from the huge gate as you enter. There she is, this magical, fairytale like building, super-imposed onto the horizon. Its four minoretes (towers) climbing high into
the sky and framing her grandeur. A huge expanse of marble, maybe a bit greyer than I had imagined, it is all very symmetrical along with the gardens and waterways that lead up to it. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a tomb not a palace.
To actually stand on the Taj itself, we put on our shoes covers, this is a new requirement to protect, and we walk onto the first platform. The sheer size is overwhelming. We take look inside where the real tombs lies beneath the floor.
We take a walk through the grounds and enjoy the peace and tranquility, watching the caretakers mow the lawns by hand and by a mower pulled by an Ox.
It is quite incredible and something that I am so glad I have had the pleasure of enjoying and consuming, I know I will savour this image forever xx
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