India Day 2.5 & 3 Agra

After the drive from Delhi to Agra, we put down our bags and headed off to one of the world wonders and highlights of our trip: the Taj Mahal.

The Taj was finished around 1653 and as most of you know it was built by a Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, for his third wife. The complex consists of the Taj Majal itself as well as two mosques and a beautiful garden with ponds and fountains.

We had been waiting for this particular sight for a long time and were expecting a lot from this visit and let me say it delivered and then some! We had glimpsed the structure from our window at our hotel, but the sheer immensity and yet infinite detail stunned us. I had no idea how big it really was and feel tiny in its presence and yet when you get up close you don’t focus so much on the size as you do the intricate and beautiful detailed carvings and gorgeous marble inlay work. The semi-precious stones inlaid perfectly in the marble were great. I can’t really describe how beautiful the white marble was from far away, how big it really seemed, or how beautiful the Taj was up close, but I hope the pictures below do it some justice. It really is a stunning tribute of love…it left Carrie speechless and for those who know her, know how impressive that is!

Entrance to the Taj
 
Our first glimpse of the Taj thru the entrance building

One of the Mosques
Notice the Marble Inlay Work
 

We spent about two and a half hours at the Taj enjoying the afternoon warmth and setting sun before heading back to our hotel with a very complete day basking in a very memorable sight.

More Camels on the road from the Taj

We woke up the next morning and were off to tour the city of Agra. We started at the Red Fort, which was built by the Mughal rulers and was again a stunning piece of work that had many more decorations than most European castles and seemed less about defensive structure and more about beauty than most forts I am accustomed to in my previous travels. It was also interesting because the Mughal rulers had harems and thus the forts and palaces had separate areas that were for the women and only the Mughal emperor and no other men except eunichs were allowed to visit these women only areas. This also meant that these areas had special decorations and many fine details for the women to enjoy during their stay in the fort.



Sunlight showing through a marble wall.



 

View from the Red Fort with the Taj in the distance



all Inlay, which supposedly was an exact carpet that used to be on the directly underneath



 
 

Following a full morning at the fort, we headed off to Sikandra’s Tomb which was a tomb built by another Mughal Emperor around 1613. This emperor was Akbar the great and the tomb had some very interesting features such as perfectly square grounds with the tomb at the center (unlike the Taj which had the tomb at the rear of the complex). The tomb also had interesting marble inlay work (not quite as impressive as the Taj, but very cool) and animals such as Blackbucks (antelope like animals that are rare and found in India, Pakistan and Nepal). The forefathers of these animals were placed here in the 1600s and have been sustained ever since then. Quite remarkable considering all the change that has occurred in the last 400 or so years. See photos below of the tomb, the mosque within the tomb complex as well the animals.

Entrance Gate to the Tomb

 After seeing the historical sights we took a brief break at the hotel and then spent our evening with another rickshaw ride in the Agra market where we stopped at a mosque that might not have had another tourist in years (based on the reaction we got from the front gate) and a wonderfully intimate (and by that I mean crowded, but colorful) ride through the old Agra market area where again very few tourists were roaming.

The next morning we were to take our last glimpses of the Taj from our window and then off to Jaipur, the pink city.

View from our hotel room
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