The Taj Mahal and images of the Golden Triangle


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November 1st 2012
Published: November 1st 2012
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The TajThe TajThe Taj

Bench where Lady Diana sat for photo op some years back.
We’ve enjoyed our short stay in India.



One of the advantages of traveling for an extended period of time is that you may find yourself wanting to change some of the plans you have made for one reason for another and discover that this is something you can do without remorse. You’ve got the time and the initiative, so you just make it happen.



Case in point; we arrived in Kathmandu over a month ago and spent four nights there before departing for other parts of Nepal and then returned for a few nights at the end. Truth is, we didn’t care for Kathmandu and were rather blunt about it in an earlier blog.



So, after we finished the incredible country of Bhutan, we were supposed to return to Kathmandu for another four nights. Neither one of us could imagine going back to Kathmandu because frankly we had seen enough.



After our Kathmandu experience, we were scheduled to fly to Delhi, India so we decided to bail early on Kathmandu and spend all the extra days in India. So we’ve had a whirlwind five nights zipping around a small part of India called the Golden Triangle, which includes Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.



In general, Asia is dirtier than the rest of the world, which is a kind description. It is a third world country and there are different expectations. There is a travel blog forum question about which country most people think is the dirtiest and India usually ends up first or second from most people’s point of view. We won’t argue, but coming here shortly after being in Nepal we will tell you we have personally encountered less dust and we are pleased that the roads are well paved and do not have large potholes. In a manner of speaking, the dirt and garbage are better contained to a small degree from the small sampling we’ve viewed.



We will not pretend to have any substantial knowledge about India. This has been a whirlwind 5-day trip, so we have a few impressions but few facts to share.



We flew into Delhi and spent the night in a wonderful B&B in New Delhi. We were only overnighting, so we arrived after dark and left in the morning. If you get to
Marble entryMarble entryMarble entry

amazing carving
Delhi, India please check it out. It was extremely comfortable and the owners gracious. You can private message us for more information. From there we headed to Agra to see the world famous Taj Mahal.





Agra





The voyage to Agra was a most pleasant one. This is largely due to the fact that we got to ride on the new expressway that has only been open for a few months. It’s about 220 KM to Agra from Delhi and we found ourselves riding on a road three-lanes wide with almost no traffic. This is because this highway is a toll road and a twice as costly as the old road. Good for us—we were able to make it to Agra in less than 3 hours. The gentleman navigating the road for us remarked that the road was “an Indian driver’s dream.” It is interesting to note that we asked how many people lived in Agra, and were told that it is not a very big city as it only has about a million and a half people. Being from the U.S., this qualifies as a large city. In India….no.
Taj MahalTaj MahalTaj Mahal

Agra, India



We’ve always wanted to see the Taj Mahal as it is an architectural marvel, an iconic photo and one of those places you’d just like to see for yourself. But, you’ve got to ask yourself, how good can this be? It is just a building.



Here’s where the “Grand Canyon” theory kicks in. You can tell people just how great and beautiful a place is and even show them pictures, but the only way to truly appreciate it is to be there, because once you take in the view, it sinks in……



It is stunning. Standing looking at this you are breathless. It is mesmerizing, surreal, ethereal…..pick your adjective. It is magnificent. It was built for love and it shows.



We were so enamored with it the first day that we went back the next morning for sunrise. And then we were even more impressed. As the story goes, an Indian mogul king in the mid 17th century built this place in memory of his wife. It’s exterior is built completely of white marble, which had to be brought from about 300 km away and was completed in about
Ablutions after prayersAblutions after prayersAblutions after prayers

At the sacred pool.
20 years. It has withstood the test of time and it’s relief carvings in its marble are simply amazing, given the time period it was constructed.



The white marble used in creating this magnificent structure came from several hundred kilometers away. The etchings carved into the marble and the inlay of other exotic stones makes one stare in awe. It is in contrast to the red sandstone used for the entrance gates on the 42- acre compound.



Agra is also home to an impressive fort that has sixteen palaces and has been the home to six Moghul Emperors. A short distance outside of Agra we visited the UNESCO World Heritage site of Fatehpur Sikri. Both these sites deserve a look.





Jaipur



When we decided to spend a few days in India, we allowed a travel agency to arrange the trip as we were in Bhutan and had spotty internet. We didn’t have enough time to mess with this ourselves. They had us also visiting the city of Jaipur. Our initial reaction was, why? We had never heard of this city and frankly were not sure what to expect. We usually do some research about where we are about to visit, but in this case seeing as how it was arranged and kind of a last moment thing, we went in without any knowledge. Once again we asked how many people lived in lived in this city we were about to visit and were told over three million. Amazing, seeing as how there are not that many cities in the U.S. that have this many people. But then again, this is India.



Our drive from Agra to Jaipur was uneventful. Perhaps we are getting used to the way the people in this country navigate the roadways. We were on a “toll road” and literally saw vehicles traveling the wrong way on a mostly divided highway. We enjoyed watching the goats, sheep, cows, water buffalo and dromedaries wandering along the roadside and occasionally walking across the highway. In India, one simply navigates around the animals as if they don’t notice. Women even herd goats across the road while vehicles whiz by at 80 kph. We chuckle as we ride along, as this would never happen in the U.S. The thing that puzzles us the most is pedestrians who walk down the middle of one lane of the highway rather casually ….or walk across. It is a puzzle to us. Here it is simply the norm.



Jaipur was a most amazing city, not only in size, but also for the amount of things to take in and see. We literally only had one day here, but tried to make the most of it. The Amber Fort and Palace were unique, in that they had some really nice views from atop the local hills. The Jaigarh Fort contained the world’s largest cannon on wheels and also was designed so that arrows could be fired through strategically placed holes in the fort’s walls, not to mention that it also has the capability to dump hot oil on would-be attackers.



In the city itself, the Jantar Mantar Observatory was pretty cool as it contained instruments designed and built in the 18th century to determine the local time (a sun dial) and other designs allowed the telling of the sign of the zodiac (quite important in the Hindu religion) and the position of the North Star. Not impressed yet? Well consider this……all these instruments were made on a grand scale and placed together in the middle of the city for all to see. Turns out the king at the time was quite the astronomy/astrology kind of guy. Imagine a sun dial that is at minimum about thirty meters across and keeps the local time to the second….not bad.



No trip to Jaipur is apparently complete unless you take some time to visit the spice market. So of course…..we did. There we found the local merchants hawking all the traditional spices like turmeric, coriander and the like, along with others who sold bangles and tobacco and tea. The squalor was a bit much, but it made for interesting photos.



Delhi



We got up on our fifth day and basically headed for the airport; next stop, Delhi. A city of over 14 million or so, depending on who you ask. Nonetheless, a large place indeed. One of the first things you discover is that there is “Old Delhi” and “New Delhi.” New Delhi was built by the British, which essentially means that it came into existence sometime before 1940 or so, seeing as how India gained their independence in the late 1940’s.



At any rate, arriving at the Delhi airport in the early afternoon with only that one day to look around doesn’t leave much time, but we still got out and took a quick look. We drove around a little down embassy row and also saw the presidential palace, which is quite the structure.



Next we went to see Old Delhi and the market, which was definitely pressing our luck considering that just the day before we had seen our fair share of the dirty unkempt marketplace in Jaipur. Well, Old Delhi pretty much did the trick. The sights, sounds and smells were a bit much and we didn’t really enjoy much of it. It was like going to the corner of Squalor and Garbage Streets, then turning right and stepping right into it. This country simply has too many people hanging out in too small a place. Crowded shops selling everything imaginable and garbage everywhere. We wish that they had a better way of taking care of this issue, but without garbage cans and a way to move it away, the task is just too grand.



Fleeing Old Delhi, we went to the largest Sikh temple in India and were mesmerized by the sight. It was grand. The music, the prayer and the reverence that was paid to this place was amazing. The temple also feeds anyone who shows up and has plenty of volunteers to make this happen. We toured the kitchen and you’re not likely to see pots full of tea and bread making operation this size very often. We were told that they feed people each and every day for about 15 hours a day. The pool on the site was considered holy and could cure diseases of the skin as well. All in all one of the better temples we’ve seen on this voyage.



India is a great place to people watch. We hope you enjoy the photos.





Places we stayed:

Soi Bed & Breakfast- New Delhi

Radisson- Agra

SMS Hotel- Jaipur

Uppal- Delhi- very close to the airport, perfect for an early flight


Additional photos below
Photos: 67, Displayed: 29


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Brutus touring the fortBrutus touring the fort
Brutus touring the fort

happy in a canon
Just one moreJust one more
Just one more

a different angle
Baby TajBaby Taj
Baby Taj

Nickname given to this edifice which was built in memory of another king's wife.
Faces of IndiaFaces of India
Faces of India

smiling school girls
Intricate writings on TajIntricate writings on Taj
Intricate writings on Taj

Verses from the Koran done in relief on the white marble.
Entrance gateEntrance gate
Entrance gate

Taj Majal
SurrealSurreal
Surreal

You're staring at it.....and it still hard to believe you're really there.


1st November 2012

Awesome Blog
Wow, you have some incredible pictures in here. Not to be biased, but I loved the ones of the spices. Great colors and light. Ok, so perhaps I am biased. And wow, the Taj Mahal sounds spectacular. I am so glad you were able to see it. I am really enjoying reading about this trip. Enjoy your next stop.
2nd November 2012

It was a short trip but we enjoyed it
India presents and intensity of the senses-- sight, sound, smell. I think we went to one too many markets but there is a lot of history here.
1st November 2012

colorful
There seems to be no shortage of vivid colors everywhere and Bright Gold seems to be popular in clothing. Did it satisfy your curiosity about India or are your appetites just whetted? What a shame that the garbage problem is so overwhelming. I'm sure that strongly influences the opinions of tourists to the country, particularly Westerners. Hope you are both well and over all previous ailments. Where to next?
2nd November 2012

On to Burma
We are told the people of India were wonderful colors because it is a dry country and many parts are lacking flowers. The colorful clothing brightens things up. We've seen enough for now. Who knows about the future.
2nd November 2012

Thank u...
Ive been considering doing India as the next leg in my journey, and I've been hesitant thus far, however I think u may have encouraged me to take the leap... Also. I just adore the photos you take of the people. Really beautiful and intense, love it.
2nd November 2012

India is intense
It attacks your senses....sight, sound, smell. It is comfortable to travel. There is a great deal of history here. Upgrade enough to stay some place clean so you can have a break from all the dirt from time to time. The Taj is amazing.
2nd November 2012
Dried cow patties

What are they used for?
Interesting! Would love to know what they are used for. Here at home cow pads were used in traditional huts as flooring with possibly a bit of clay mixed in with it.
2nd November 2012
Dried cow patties

They have a variety of uses
..including heating. I'm sure it has many uses.
2nd November 2012

Good you could make it!
Well, Dave and Merry-Jo, you made it in the manner of motorhomers - there's always time to change your mind and make new things happen. We'll be there quite soon with my little brother as our guide as you know, and your blog raises the bar on our expectations. Brilliant! David
2nd November 2012

India has a unique personality
We enjoyed our time there. We believe you will enjoy exploring. The temples are lovely and the people very friendly. The markets stink...but, ah, well.
2nd November 2012
Faces of India

Lovely picture :)
I would love to see you both return to take in yet more of this mystical country. Although I wasn't particularly enamoured with India as a country, the wonderful, Indian people left an indelible mark on me. I admire them so much for their sense of identity and purpose, something that is sadly lacking in the West today. The one thing Indian people covet more than anything else is their freedom and all I can say to that is Jai Hindustan :)
2nd November 2012
Faces of India

The people are what make India special.
We had a great time and are glad we went but it is a very poor country and understand your feelings. We would love to spend more time in Vietnam and maybe it will happen. Not sure if you read our old blog about our time in Vietnam. We had an interesting train ride!
3rd November 2012

If I did India again...
your way is how I would do it! Just finished reading RoadIsCalling's blog about their visit to India...much more graphic...which I can do without. Now that we are home we will read all your blogs we have missed while on the road.
3rd November 2012

I guess as we age we aren't as graphic. Want to leave something unsaid.
India is not for every one. I think we are behind on a couple of your blogs also. Hope to catch up soon.
3rd November 2012

Thanks again
I love the way you see things so honestly - your blog has both inspired my curiosity..oh it is the taj..and cemented the reasons i dont want tour India..cant wait for the next update!
3rd November 2012

It is worth flying in to see the Taj.
India is intense. It is certainly not for everyone. We tell it like we see it. A bit too much public urination for us.
6th November 2012

My favourite thing about travel blog is reading perspective. I love it. Whether it be short or long, varied or scheduled, conventional or random, everyone has a different outcome and for that I find most appealing. You have donè a great job sharing your perspectives. And you've captured some lovely images too. Love your photo on the Lady Di bench!
9th November 2012

India is alluring
You can't escape the filth but you end up liking it any way. An interesting country.
14th November 2012

Remember me? Lucy who will be going to Vietnam, Phnom Penh, Calcutta, and Thailand in Jan and Feb? Still muddling away with prep. Currently waiting for Indian and Vietnam visas to be returned tinkering with my Thai itinerary. Just one more flight to book from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and then I can concentrate on how to pack. BUT I must agree with your last comment poster, your photos are awesome, and coming from me that's something because I'm, very critical. Which one of you takes the people shots? Those are the kind I like to take. They're quite good. Lov'em. Unfortunatley I will only be able to see Calcutta (Kolkata) on this first trip to Asia which is ot on everyone's must see list for obvious reasons. But I'm sure I'll love it. I will be working at Mother Theresa's missionary. Then off to Thailand; Phuket, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, then home. You're lucky you didn't have to deal with big hurricane Sandy we had here. I had now electricity for a week but that was getting off easy compared to some people who lost everything and others who still have no power.......................Can't believe you guys are still on road. Do you ever stand still? Lucy
16th November 2012

Hello Lucy,
Indeed I remember you and will be following your trip. India has a way of capturing your interest and you over look the dirt. We enjoyed our time there. Your trip will be fantastic! Keep in touch. I (Merry) takes the majority of the photos. Thanks for the compliment.
15th November 2012

Brutus
Glad to see Brutus is still enjoying the tours
16th November 2012

Hello Gugga,
I was thinking about you yesterday and thinking I needed to look and see if you published a blog from Spain. Hope you had a wonderful trip. Yes, Brutus is having a nice time. Keep in touch.
7th January 2013

luxury travel competition
Hello, After reading your blog, I was wondering if you might be interested in entering our travel competition? We're offering the opportunity to win a luxury tour of North India, simply by sharing your experiences (and photos) of India, or by telling us why you'd love to visit.  We've teamed up with some of our exclusive hotels partners in the region to offer this amazing 14-day opulent adventure for two people, worth over £4000 ($6200, A$6000, €4900). Starting in Jodhpur, the 'Blue City, the tour passes through Rohet, Ranakpur (including a fantastic leopard safari), Udaipur, Bundi, Ranthambore National Park (yes, a tiger safari too!) and finally Rajasthan's vibrant capital, Jaipur. The competition opens on 3rd January 2013, closes on 15th February and is open to anyone aged 18 years or above who is not resident in India. The prize is transferrable, so you can always nominate friends or family if you are not able find the time to travel. To celebrate our partnership with children's literacy charity - Katha Children's Trust - we will also be making a donation based on the number of people who vote for competition entries by sharing a link on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or via their blog or website.  To take part, please visit our website: http://rajasthanwithwire.com/win-a-luxury-trip-to-india.html If you know anyone else who might like the chance to win or simply to help us support Katha, then please forward this email to them or share via social media. We really appreciate your support! Thanks for your time - we hope that you will be able to participate. Best wishes, Gerd, Khaled and the Wire team Sponsored by Devi Garh - Rasa Resort - Sher Bagh - Mihir Garh - RAAS - Mana

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