Taj mahal great way to spend the last few ...
Trip Start Jun 03, 2001
63Trip End ??? ??, 2002
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Great way to spend the last few days in India and indeed my whole trip. I arrived in Delhi with mixed expectations, due mostly to the political situation. Mixed because coming from Northern Ireland you get used to over dramatisation from the press of situations like this. Delhi itself did seem to have an air of trepidation and nerves about it but as we headed to the hotel I relaxed as we passed the sights of another typical Indian city. Street fronts with shoppers and cattle alike blending in dangerously with the traffic and a camakasi driver with an itchy horn finger, made me realise this would be a similar city to Bombay and Bangalore.
I was lucky enough to coincide my visit with Paul having a few meetings and site visit in Delhi and so he was able to arrange it for me to stay in the Hyatt Regency for the three nights
It was named after Mumtaz Mahal the wife of the King Shah Jahan who died giving birth to their fourteenth child!! She pleaded with him on her death bed to show the world how much he loved her. A challenge he accepted and, for the next 22 years, from 1631 -1653, with the help of 20.000 men (locals from Agra) 1.000 elephants and countless camels, he constructed one of the wonders of the world, the Taj mahal. It is set on the bank of the Yamuna river and if ever there was a building to justify the term takes your breath away, then this is it. We first went to the Red fort about 1km away and through a guide provided by the hire car company I was told the story I had read only an hour ago in the car. I decided not to steal his thunder and mention I knew all he was telling me and I listened with interest to see if there was any detail I hadn't read previously. There were many, and I learned where the king kept his many wives and how they lived in the red fort
The story I already knew evolved like this. Upon completion of the Taj mahal the king would not permit himself to look directly at the building as it brought too much sadness to him in memories of his wife. So he carried a pocket mirror everywhere to look at it in reflection. His son obviously found this a little strange and had doubts about his fathers state of mind. When the king announced a plan to build a second building on the opposite bank of the river, (entirely in black marble in contrast to the solely white marble Taj Mahal) and link the two across the river with a zebra crossing like stone bridge, the kings son finally heard the camels back break with this final insane straw. He imprisioned his father in the red fort and kept him there for the remaining 8 years of his life. He died alone in 1666.
The building itself was as I said breathtaking, my guide gave me the option of walking round it alone or he would come with me. I had heard the story in full and all there was left to do was look at the reality of this amazing building. The marble was brilliantly white and sunglasses struggle to reflect the glare. I, like most tourists, thought of the famous Lady Diana shot in front of the moat leading to the front of the Taj
The gardens are immaculate and tended I noticed on my way out by a lawnmower pulled by a cow. I guess it was fitting to find such tradition in a place with such history. It goes without saying I was stunned by this place and it is one place I will return to and recommend to anyone. It is worth the entrance fee of £10 and more.
The rest of my time in Delhi was spent enjoying the trappings of a 5* hotel and I enjoyed a night out for my birthday the next night
I decided to leave India a day early and catch a flight to London on the Friday, mainly cause I was tired and skint, but it sounds a good, daring, exciting, 007 type of escape if I say it was to escape impending war in a hostile enviorenment. It wasn't any of those things, it was a glorious city in a very underated country. I loved every minute of India and could not have wished for a better way to end my holiday. It goes without saying that none of my experiences in India would have been possible without the help of Paul and Kim and they are sick of hearing my thanks for their hospitality and generosity, but I don't care, thanks again guys.