Monday, November 14, 2022
Temperature 14 – 29 C ( 57 – 84 F ) , Smog Index – 103 ( Moderate )
We had an early breakfast and left the hotel at 7:30 for the Taj Mahal. At the entrance to the Taj we had to clear security, similar to the other sites we had visited. Looking through the entrance of the east gate, we caught our first glimpse at the Taj Mahal. The large gate was impressive with its sandstone and marble construction.
When we entered the gate, the Taj loomed magnificently in front of us. The sun gleamed off the white marble, and the central pool and greenery accentuated its beauty.
Prat took a picture of myself and Mikhel, the only other Canadian in our tour group, in front of the Taj. She is a teacher from Toronto, on a 1-year sabbatical, whose husband had elected to stay at home with their two children.
We also took a group photo in front of the Taj Mahal.
Back Row ( L to R ): Lonnie, Malcolm, Danny, Paul, Prat, myself, Maurice, Kirk, Shailendra
Front Row ( L to R ): Mardi, Carol, Jean, Bijaya, Karen, Mikhel
The closer you get to the Taj, the more impressive it gets.
It is hard to describe the Taj Mahal. It is one of the man-made wonders in the world and no pictures will adequately depict the beauty of it. You have to see it in person. The size and attention to detail in the marble carvings is just amazing.
After extensively touring the Taj, we drove the short distance to the area where the ancestors of the stone artisans still live. Along the way I noticed that some of the rikshaws in India are powered by horses and camels.
Cows have right of way in India and can do whatever they want. They sometimes walk along the roads and even the highways. Vehicles will give them right of way and try to drive around them, however, they normally stay away from the center of the road. The buffalo also wander on the roads but they are more likely to walk down the middle of the road.
At the marble shop, we learned how to carve marble from the ancestors of the original artisans who carved the marble for the Taj. Mikhel volunteered to take a turn at carving out some marble on a table top that the family was working on. After the carving lessons, we were given a chance to buy some of the marble carvings in the shop.
By the time we had finished our tour, it was almost 1 pm and we were on our own for lunch. Six of us hired tuk-tuks to take us to the ‘ Pinch of Spice ‘ restaurant. I had the Garlic Chicken, which was very spicy and delicious.
After lunch we toured Agra fort, which is a historical palace fort, also known as red fort. It was built during 1565-1573 for Mughal Emperor Akbar. It was the main residence of the rulers of Sikarwar clan of Rajputs until mughals occupied it and Mughal dynasty until 1638, when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi. Before capture by the British, the last Indian rulers to have occupied it were the Marathas. In 1983, the Agra fort was life inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is about 2.5 km northwest of the Taj Mahal. The fort can be more accurately described as the walled city.
There were several school groups that visited the Taj and the fort while we were there and several of them would ask the members of the tour group to take pictures with them. Mikhel was popular with them, especially the young school girls.
From the fort we drove to an Indian home for some High Tea. The home owner is a lawyer and his wife is a principal in a private school. We had a wonderful tea with some finger foods, such as samosas, and a Masala tea ( similar to Chai tea ). After the tea, Mikhel and Jean, volunteered as models, as we were shown how to put on a saree.
While wearing the Saree, Mikhel had a henna drawing made on her hand.
By the time we got back to the hotel, it was after 7 pm. Some of us, such as myself, elected to skip supper and relax for the evening before going to bed.