Tuesday Oct 11, 2005 - day 12 - Agra/Taj Mahal - Kathy: 261 photos, Bob: 180 photos
Today we got up bright and early. Well, early anyway. I wasn’t feeling too bright. Early mornings and I don’t get along. We got up at 5:00 in the morning so we could get to the Taj Mahal when it opened. This turned out to be a wonderful strategy because we were the first people to enter the place and the photos were much better without all the people. Much to my dismay, I couldn’t bring my tripod. I’m beginning to think that it was a waste of money. Oh well. I only paid fifteen dollars for it at a garage sale.
The government of India made a wise decision. In order to protect the Taj Mahal from pollution and damage, they restricted all traffic to the area. The only vehicles that could approach the Taj were bicycles, bicycle-rickshaws and strange electric tuk-tuks. So we had to park our bus and take a tuk-tuk to the Taj.
After waiting for the site to open at 6:00am, we went
through the security checkpoint where we went through metal detectors and
pat-downs. Finally, we got inside the
complex, and walking through the gate, we saw the beautiful white marble of the
Taj. It was just sunrise, and we could
take lots of photos without the normal huge crowds of people everywhere.
We took hundreds of photos; the most we’ve ever taken.
So many, in fact, that I had to empty Kathy’s flash card twice today.
The Taj Mahal, of course, is the tomb of a queen. The king loved his wife so much that he built this enormous structure out of white marble to house her tomb. After his death several years later, they buried him in the same tomb, next to his beloved wife.
After seeing the Taj in the morning, we went to the red
There was an impressive multi-tiered gate system with huge fortress walls and a mote. Very cool. This was a big structure with a large courtyard,
lots of buildings, passageways and things to see. There was an overlook that had a misty view of the river and the Taj nearby.
There were even a few monkeys around posing for the cameras.
Needless to say, we took lots more photos.
On the way out, I noticed that a man was just sitting on the roof of the palace, a living gargoyle looking down on the world.
I thought that was rather odd.
After the red fort, we had lots of free time. But you know us. Kathy does not allow us to rest. My nickname for my wife is: Kathy “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” Peterson. So instead of resting and recovering, we asked Sujay to hire a car to take us to the “Mini-Taj”.
This monument was built by the same guy’s mother. At the time, she wanted to build the biggest monument in all of Islam to commemorate her beloved husband when he died. So the Taj Mahal was actually built by her son in order to surpass her lovely idea.
The Mini-Taj was beautiful.
It was quite a bit smaller than the Big Taj, but maybe more beautiful because it was so ornate and colorful.
Even the ceilings were beautiful.
Not many people get to the Mini-Taj, so it wasn’t crowded, and I think it is a wonderful place to visit. It was colorful and creative, whereas the Big Taj is just so much white marble. The Mini-Taj is more colorful, and you can clearly see a woman’s touch in the decoration.
We went to a marble factory where they tried to sell us very expensive, over-priced carved and inlaid marble items. They were beautiful, but once again, way too expensive.
At sunset, we went back to the Taj Mahal again to take some final photos before sunset.
It was beautiful, but of course, there were a lot more people.
We noticed that our hotel had the traditional Bible that you see in many American hotels, but in addition, they had a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu Bible! Actually, Sujay said the Gita is the tenth book of the Mahabarata, one of the many holy series of ancient books for the Hindus.