Elsa in front of Taj Mahal, Agra, India

7 Blog India: The Golden Triangle PART TWO

AGRA

Motorcycle carrying family of four near Agra

The following day, we departed for Agra. The number of motorcycles on the road never ceased to amaze me. I could not help taking a photo of a family of five on one motorbike. We passed many unfinished concrete slab multi-stories. Like in many other developing countries, people build up floor-by-floor as they have the funds. There may also be a reduced tax on incomplete buildings.

Fatehpur Sikri (the City of Victory), a UNESCO Site, Agra

After a stop for a light lunch, we visited the remains of the grand city of Fatehpur Sikri (the City of Victory), a UNESCO Site. Emperor Akbar built the complex of monuments and temples in the second half of the 16th century. The site includes one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid.

Front view of Taj Mahal, Agra across Yamuna River

Our guide promised us a breathtaking view of India's most iconic structure, the Taj Mahal, as the sun set.  One could only have this full view from across the Yamuna River. The Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, commissioned this marble monument in memory of his favorite wife, who tragically died during childbirth. This 'colossal tomb' is indeed a beautiful sight. One could not help but feel sad about the tragic story behind its construction. On either side of the building are two red sandstone buildings; one serves as a mosque, and the other is a former guesthouse, adding to the grandeur and significance of the site.

Political rally during elections, Agra, India

As we proceeded to the hotel, the bus slowed down, and we heard a commotion. It was a noisy but peaceful political protest during the local elections. We happily settled into our accommodation at the Taj Hotel and Convention Center. The staff directed us to a smaller dining room separated from the other guests and treated us to a great menu of Indian gastronomy. Of course, I was in my element, trying different flavors. 

Taj Mahal sunrise, Agra, India

 

We agreed with the guide to get up early to miss the crowds and have a guided tour of the Taj Mahal at sunrise. What a treat! The graceful buildings came into their own as the sun's rays hit the turrets. As more people arrived, I walked along a quiet pathway within the lush gardens. I admired the giant pool that reflects the Taj Mahal and settled on a bench to enjoy the silence and serenity surrounding the complex. 

Tomb in Mausoleum Taj Mahal, Agra, India

There was a solemn silence as we walked through the mausoleum, which contained the remains of both the empress and emperor. It is a beautiful chamber with marble floors and screens decorated with inlaid semiprecious stones and carvings. Koranic verses in calligraphy add to the feeling of solemnity in the room. 

We spent a final hour admiring the full view of this incredible memorial. Of course, we took the obligatory photos to celebrate this memorable visit.

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