Taj Mahal

Trip Start Jun 16, 2008
Trip End Jul 20, 2008

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Flag of India  , Uttar Pradesh,
Friday, July 11, 2008

After less than 5 hours of sleep, Diana and I met with our driver at 7AM and left on a 3 1/2 hour drive to Agra, India.  The driving here is absolutely nuts!!!!!!!  China was terrible and awful, but it was nothing compared to what I have seen today in India.  First of all most places in the roads do not even have dividing marks for the lanes whther it be the two lanes going in one direction or even the line thatdivides the opposing traffic.  Even when the lines are there they are meaningless!  People drive wherever they want.  There is no space for all of the vehicles.  In addition to all of the cars there are also tons of motorized rickshaws as well as endless motrocyles that constantly risk their lives weaving in and out and then there are also bicycles.  Now on top of all these vehicles driving all over the road with reckless abandon then there are also cows, oxen, pigs, dogs, monkeys and more that enter the highway on theri own and must be avoided.  Now because there is no rule as to keeping your car in a single lane, the way one drives in India is by honking the horn.  Beep Beep Beep I am about to pass you so don't change abruptly into my lane.  Beep Beep Beep I am currently passing you so don't change inlanes into me.  Beep Beep Beep why are you honking to tell me that you are passing.  And that is how the 3 1/2 hours there and back were spent.  Endless honking.  Not even 30 seconds went by at any point today in which our driver was not honking to communicate and then of course there was everyone else honking too!  It was utter chaos!!!

The first stop in the morning was at Sikandra which is the tomb of King Akar.  It was impressive how symmetrically built everything was.  The tomb was so simple.  It was an empy room all white with just the tomb in the middle of the room.  That was it!  All to express the fact at how simple he was.

Akbar was a Mughal emperor who was also a great connoisseur of the arts. He had many works of archi- tecture constructed, all incorporating various styles into their designs. The emperor began construction on his tomb in Sikandra, near Agra, in 1605. The building was completed by his son, who finished the structure using designs and methods not originally intended, like leaving out a crowning dome. The tomb of Akbar is an arcuate structure built from red sandstone and white marble. On each of its four sides, the grand portals are inlayed with complex mosaics.

The next stop was the hilight of the day...one of the new Seven Wonders of the World...The Taj Mahal.

First we entered through the gate and as we came closer and closer to the opening of the gate we could begin to see the Taj Mahal off in the distance.  As we walked through it was so impressive sitting off in the distance.  An artificial riverlike pool and running walkways made their way toward the masoleum.  With our guide we walked inside and viewed the art that was carved into the marble walls and we saw the tombs of the King and Queen.

The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, that was built under Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.  The Taj Mahal is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Turkish, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage."  While the white domed marble and tile mausoleum is most familiar, Taj Mahal is an integrated symmetric complex of structures that was completed around 1648. Ustad Ahmad Lahauri is generally considered as the principal designer of Taj Mahal.

Our last site visited was the Red Fort.  The Fort is where King Akbar had lived as King and later so did Sha Jahan.  His son later made a power struggle move in which he killed his two brother and imprisoned his own father, Sha Jahan, so that he could take over as the new king.  Despite imprisoning Sha Jahan in the Red Fort he still had thousands of concubines and a terrific view of his Taj Mahal in the distance.  When he died 8 years later he was buried with his favorite wife in the Taj Mahal.

In the evening we made the long trecherous never ending Beep ride back to the hotel.
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