Taj Mahal - one of the seven wonders of the world

Trip Start Dec 29, 2010
Trip End Dec 05, 2011

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Flag of India  , Uttar Pradesh,
Monday, September 26, 2011

Our journey to Agra – home of the Taj Mahal – was by train, so we waved goodbye to all but our essential luggage the night before so that Babu and Monu could drive ahead ready to meet us at Agra station.

Our first experience of an Indian train was far more civilised than any of us expected. The travel agent did, however, chose to take us to a smaller Delhi station rather than the main terminus which has over 40 platforms.  So, with Manjeet our guide we all negotiated getting on the train with no problems at all and quickly found our bench seats in the first class air conditioned carriage.  We had a whole compartment to ourselves together with the top sleep bunks which the children loved.  All too easy.

Getting off the train again at Agra was similarly civilised, until, to our horror, we watched a woman (trying to get on the moving train with about 5 other people) fall down and slip.  Georgie and I assumed that she had fallen onto the tracks and had been killed so we were completely traumatized…..thankfully Brad had seen her be pulled up in the nick of time, and was sitting recovering on the platform.  A very lucky woman indeed.

Off to the hotel  - the Amar Villas - straight away which was unbelievable, very serene and beautiful with amazing views of the Taj Mahal.  Given that we arrived in the heat of the day, we hit the swimming pool for an hour or so before heading out to see the Taj Mahal.

All of us would agree that the Taj Mahal deserves to be one of the 7 modern wonders of the world.  Words cannot really describe its beauty, both due to the stunning marble, in-laid with semi-precious stones (like gold coloured jasper, black onyx, jade etc) but also in its perfect symmetry.  The towering entrance gate, made of red sandstone and marble is similarly stunning, as are the mosque and publice building on either side of the Taj.  Once again we attracted a huge following of people, all looking and taking photos of Benjamin.

Brad and I went back to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise to appreciate it in a different light and without the children.  It was even more stunning, and it was wonderful to see inside the mausoleum which had the greatest amount of carved marble and stunning inlays of semi precious stones.  Its really a sight that surpasses the hype and well worth seeing.
After breakfast we left the kids to swim in the pool with Georgie while we did a heritage walk run by a local NGO. Its really a chance to get into one of the villages as much as to see the unsung sights of Agra. The village tour was really fascinating, they have done a huge amount to clean things up and are making some real progress. We were totally shocked to learn that the state government pay for every child who attends school to have one good cooked meal at lunch time and also surprised to learn that the government now sees to it that most village streets are cleaned - perhaps not to your and my definition of clean- but its a start.

In the afternoon we took the kids to the Red Fort at Agra - another Red Fort came the replies when we announced the plan. But the Red Fort at Agra is well worth the visit. The walls reach up to 33 metres high and its packed full of places and harems and the most stunning architecture that mixes Hindu, Muslim, Turkish and Christian influences as the king had wives form all religions and honoured them with individual palaces. The kids loved the fact that you can really see the elephant gates and imagine them charging out of the gates of the fort and Zach even got his chance to sit down and draw, much to the interest of the local Indian tourists.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a private museum to view some embroidered textiles typical of the the 1600's in India when the Red  Fort was at its height. We then got invited upstairs to see an original emerald necklace owned and worn by Mumtaz Mahal for whom Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal for in 1653. 

Then we were then shown some jewellery that was crafted from emeralds that were owned by Mumtaz Mahal at the time of her death. While some have been cut and polished the key stones remain as rough cut carved stones from the period. Quite unbelievably Katherine was asked if she would like to try the jewellery on. She could not keep the smile off her face but before she gets any ideas it is, as they say, quite priceless. The Indian family that own it have been offered huge sums of money by various Sheiks and refused all offers.
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sp on

did you show them a bid Brad ???

Graham C on

Nice to see that you avoided a Lady Di moment at the Taj Mahal.

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