Agra, India – The TAJ MAHAL

October 3, 2013

We arrived in Delhi, India at 4:30 AM.  Our driver picked us up and we began our 3-hour drive to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.  The first thing the driver told us was that to drive in India all you needed was a good horn, good brakes and good luck. Before we left the airport, we understood what he meant. We were not in Kansas any longer.  First, they drive on the left side of the road, although it was clear to us that cars regularly drive on both sides of the road and drive directly at you whenever they can.  Second, the streets leading into and out of the airport were already crowded with cars, trucks, push-carts, three wheelers, and people walking in all directions.  There were traffic lanes, but they were only a suggestion. No one seemed to pay any attention to the lane markings.  Horns blared, lights flashed and cars cut you off everywhere you drove.  I looked over at Rita and she was gripping the arm rests so hard that her knuckles had turned white, her eyes were closed and her lips were quietly mouthing Hail Mary, Mother of God!  (I figured it was not a good time to interrupt her.) 

 

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We proceeded along the streets of Delhi until we reached the new expressway to Delhi that has shortened the drive by 2 hours. As we left Delhi behind, my last memory was of the air that I could see in the street lights.  I could actually see the air because it was full of dust everywhere I looked.  The expressway was an improvement over the Delhi streets, but it was not without its dangers.  We soon began to pass many groups of Hindus parading at very high volume in one of the lanes on the expressway, chanting loudly to music being played from speakers attached to what had to be a boom box or ghetto blaster on a push-cart or sometimes a truck and at other times a tractor.  Mind you that it is still dark out.  They are walking in a lane on the expressway; and you cannot see them until you are right on top of them. The driver said that this would continue for 9 days while the Hindus would fast and go to temple everyday.  I thought, they may get to heaven faster than they will get to the temple if they keep walking on the expressway!  As we proceeded on to Agra, the sun came up.  The cityscape gave way to a countryscape, we saw people working in fields of corn rice, sugar cane and millet.  Men and women working side by side with only hand tools.  They carried sugar cane, water, sticks, everything needed for their toil on their heads.  We passed numerous smoke stacks that dotted the countryside.  Apparently, the smokestacks are part of brick manufacturing and that is very important to the local economy.  Things seemed to be going well until the brakes on the car were applied quickly, the tires screeched on the highway, and the car turned a little sideways and began to slide. We didn’t know what was going on or what to expect next, when the driver yelled “monkeys”!  Rita looked out her side of the car window and crossing in front of us on the expressway was a group of 25 monkeys playing dodge  ’em with the cars in the expressway.  The expressway soon gave way to the streets of Agra, a city of several million.  In order to appreciate what we saw in Agra, we thought we would let our photos do our talking for us.  Please see our photo section. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words. 

 

Even though we had an overnight flight, we checked into our hotel, the Oberoi, and headed for the Taj Mahal by 9:00 AM.  Everyone has seen pictures of the TM.  Everyone knows the love story.  But, being there and seeing it in person and hearing the story makes it all seem so intense.  First, the TM seems so much larger in person than it does in photos.  The TM is a mausoleum made of the hardest crystalline white marble.  It was started in 1632 and finished in 1648. It took 20,000 workers and over a 1000 elephants to complete the construction. It was built by Shah Jahan who was grief stricken after the death of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child.  Our words cannot do justice to the TM so please see our photos. 

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The next day we awoke to water gushing through our toes as we walked to the window to see what the weather was like and if we could see the Taj b/c at sunrise it is supposed to be spectacular.  It rained so much the night before, that our pool at the hotel flooded as well as our room and a few others.  We called the manager and reported it and within 5 minutes they were up in our room with a wet vacuum getting it dry.  We decided to take advantage of the spa that day as the Taj was not going to give us any better pictures than the day before.  That afternoon, right after lunch we received a phone call and the General Manager decided to put us up in a Presidential Suite to make up for the inconvenience of the water in our room.  We told him it was not necessary, but he insisted.  It was about 1500 sq. ft. and whoah… it was definitely nice!

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Guess we needed a dining room table???

 

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This is our foyer! 

We will post a lot more pictures on the photo page soon, so check back to see those of our introduction to India.  

Love and miss all of you!  

 

Norm and Rita  

Here are some of our first views of India on our way to Agra!

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Then we arrived at our hotel, which is secluded from what you see above, but yet the above is right out on the street in front of our hotel.

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Our original room

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View from our room

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Another view from our room

Then we went right away over to see the Taj Mahal.

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Main Gate entrance to Taj

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This is a temple on the side of the Taj, there is an identical one on the other side also.

5 thoughts on “Agra, India – The TAJ MAHAL

  1. I am ALL caught up on your adventures and photos!! I love the new format to the photos. Thanks for writing so much description…I like that. What beauty you have seen! So amazing! I wonder what thoughts you are having about life and the ways people choose to live as you move through different cultures. It is fall in Portland and the trees are changing color. I go back to work in a few days. I wish I could stay longer. I love you.

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  2. Does it seem surreal, that you are driving in such chaos and then end up on “the other side of the rainbow” in such a magnificent room? Enjoy!!!!

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    • Yes, just driving through the incredible chaos is like you’re in a movie… the room was pretty awesome. Actually the first room we had was awesome,had a great view of the Taj, spacious, well appointed, that’s why we thought we didn’t need a suite, it would just the same room only bigger… LOL ! Rita

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