23 Nov

We left Delhi in the wee hours of the morning on a 4 hour drive to Agra, the city of love and home of the Taj Mahal. The farther outside the city we got, the thicker the smog/fog. Apparently, this is not only due to the pollution, but the “winter” weather. The visibility was terrible and most of us were too afraid to sleep. However, Rampel did a fabulous job and avoided a couple of dicey situations. We hit a couple of traffic jams on the way, along with tolls and tax stations. We even closed the blinds of the windows to avoid the hawkers and monkey men. As soon as you look, or wave, or smile, they start to do their tricks and ask for money.

We made stops at Akbar’s tomb and “mini” Taj before arriving at our hotel, ITC Mughal. While we checked in and lunched, Rampel secured a tour guide for the Taj Mahal. He did not disappoint. Our guide was not only a pro at cutting lines and making people move for us, but he was also a great photographer. He brought us from the van to a tuk tuk since only energy friendly vehicles are allowed near the Taj. He also got us water and shoe covers, (many of the tourist sites require you to remove your shoes). The Taj was absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately, none of us can see it how it originally was built since the British raped it of all the gold and rubys it was meant to have. It took 22 years to build and has all inlaid smooth stone work of 5 different types of stone that come from different parts of the world. The tombs of Shajahan and his beloved third wife are in the center of the Taj. A second Taj made of black marble was meant to be built on the opposite side of the river with a silver bridge. However the Shajahan’s evil son locked him in the red fort before construction could begin.

After taking every picture possible, we went to learn about the art of marble and inlaid stone work. There is no tax in Agra, which is why most tourists wait to buy from here, and we were not any different. Of course Rampel and our tour guide also get a cut.

At the end of the day we were all pretty beat and were looking forward to getting back to our luxurious hotel filled with gardens and fountains.









2 Responses to “Agra”

  1. Nadine Genesius November 24, 2011 at 7:02 AM #

    Rampel sounds like a gem!
    One dimension we are not really missing from your blog is the odors. Surely the “fog” keeps the odors from dissipating. It makes you wonder when those beautiful sunny pictures are taken.
    Also, please do not eat any more fruit or uncooked vegetables, especially salad. Even in the best places, it is grown in and washed with water.
    Stay safe.
    Happy Thanksgiving…
    Love, Mom & Dad

    • segenesius November 24, 2011 at 2:10 PM #

      Fruits and vegetables that are peeled are fine. Lettuce and any uncooked, unpeeled fruits and vegetables should be avoided.

      The smells and pollution have been really bad at times, but not as bad as I expected.

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