Yesterday, I was able to experience first hand the beauty of the Taj Mahal in Agra. From the outskirts of Delhi (Gurgaon), it took us over 4 hours to get there by car. Most of the drive was on a freeway (2 lanes in each direction) but it still takes a long time due to just a lot of cars on the roads. We arrived in Agra where we picked up our guide. Everything was organized by our office but as far as I know these guides are free and all we did was tip him 200 rupees. The guide was knowledgeable but it felt like he was just reciting a paragraph that he memorized. He also showed us some good spots to take pictures from. One thing to note to those that may use these guides (vs. those from hotels, etc.) is that afterward he took us to a place that showed us how they made the decorations which turned into a total pitch for the store that was inside. Luckily we were warned that they may do this since the owners will give the guides a kickback so we didn't buy anything there. Besides the prices were ridiculously high. The guide also took us to a restaurant where he knew the owner (you get how this works, right?). The place was filled with tourists and tourist prices. Again, a warning. Nonetheless, it was helpful to get some of the history.
It was very hard to believe that I have actually been to the Taj Mahal. One interesting fact that I didn't know is that the wooden foundation of the Taj is deteriorating. When standing on the northern side of it I thought that it was slanted and the guide said, "Good observation, m'am. That is true." Apprently due to age and I think also the fact that the water of the adjescent river rises almost to the balcony of the court during the monsoon season, the foundation is significantly weaker. According to the guide, the architects are working on its. Let's hope they figure it out soon and fix it in time. For now, enjoy the beauty!
|This is the roof of the entrance to the Taj Mahal.|
|The Northern entrance to the Taj. There are four gates to the court where this picture was taken - one from every direction.|
|This way to the Taj...|
|It is simply breathtaking. Truly one of he most beautiful pieces of art I've ever seen.|
|According to the guide, the emperor's wife (Mumtaz Mahal) asked the emperor Shah Jahan to build a place so that she may be remembered. Not too shabby.|
|Everyone was doing it so I couldn't resist.|
|One of the several reflections of the Taj in one of the fountain pools|
|The view from the Eastern court|
|Shah Jahan had intended to build a replicate Taj Mahal across the Jamuna river but it was never completed.|
|Workers were manually cutting the grass at the base of the Taj by the river|
|Passages (or Suras) of the Qu'ran are inscribed around the Taj|
|Maintenance on the Taj is done by the descendants of those that originally did the decorative work (top right corner is newer than the remainder of the stone)|
|75% of these boys have a picture of me on their phones|