Wednesday, July 22, 2009

December 30, 2008 - Agra - Part Two

[This is a continuation of my journal entry about our very full day in Agra.]

Above you see what should be a grand view of the Taj Mahal from Agra's Red Fort, but today the haze was so bad that we could hardly see that it was there. However, we were soon off to the Taj Mahal itself, this time by horse and buggy. Once again, though, we were dropped off more than a mile from the entrance, so after a long hard walk we arrived hot and tired.

The Taj Mahal is as majestic as promised--perhaps the most beautiful building in the world. We had plenty of time to photograph the exterior before joining the masses of people queued to go inside. I think we were there on one of the busiest days of the year--Christmas and New Year's decorations abounded, and we saw more Indian families than foreigners. Obviously most kids are out of school, although in one of the towns we saw children in school uniforms with backpacks.

While Lois, Kyle, and I went inside, Eric stayed outside and made friends with the site's head gardener. Frankly, the inside of the Taj Mahal is a disappointment--because you can't see anything! The only light is daylight filtering in through tiny windows and one distant doorway. There must be beautiful carvings and inlays, as there are on the outside, but there is not even enough light to prevent stumbling over unexpected shallow steps, let alone appreciate the design.

When we joined Eric outside, the gardener told us about his work, and took our pictures. On our way out, we encountered some of the soldiers who were doing crowd control at the monument, and they were happy to let me take their picture. Note the khaki-colored sari uniforms.

As I said in the previous post, after we had seen India's most famous landmark everyone went their own way, some of us back to the hotel by public transport instead of tired feet, and others to the shops we've been denied time to see up to now. Then a group of us went out to dinner, where I ordered something called a korma, a dish of fruit and vegetables cooked in yogurt with nuts and spices--absolutely delicious.

Thus ended our busiest day thus far.

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