We've finally visited the famous Taj Mahal. We weren't sure whether it would be worth it to pay 750 rupies to go in, but it was worth it. It's such an amazing mausoleum!!! Emperor Shah Jahan built to show how much he loved his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal. 20000 workers spent 22 years building the Taj Mahal and had their hands or thumbs chopped off so that they wouldn't be able to reproduce such a beautiful building in any other place of the world. It so beautiful!!!! It is 54m. high and entirely carved in marble, with inlaid work (precious stones with fragments of the Quran). Amazing, but you have to be there. We took many photographs, but it is absolutely impossible to capture its magnificience. It is after all one of the seven wonders of the world.
Agra itself has nothing much other than the Taj Mahal, so we packed our things again and headed off to Orchha. We drove for five hours and the road was quite difficult to say the least. There was an accident on the road and people blocking the road, so we had to stop and wait while a farmer explained to us all the different crops he was growing. Quite surreal, but it was nice to chat with him. We passed by many road tax points and, while Nand payed the taxes, we were left in the car surrounded by children who threw peanuts inside the car. I'd never felt so much like a monkey in my whole life!!!
Orchha is a beautiful little town (8500 inhabitants) and it's very relaxing to be here. The hotel is not bad (although I've seen rubbish-bins cleaner than our bathroom) and there are a few places with very good food around. So we've are taking it easy today... just hanging around, because tonight might be a hard night. We've said good bye to Nand, which was very sad and we'll miss him. He definitely made things easy for us... but his presence is still here somehow, because he has arranged that the hotel owner will drop us at Jhansi Railway Station tonight and help us find our vagon and berths. So yes, tonight, we are catching our first train and we are a bit anxious about it, because everybody is telling us that it is quite an experience. Tomorrow morning we'll wake up in Varanasi!!! Hopefully, we'll meet there our friend Ajay (Spanish teacher in Delhi University). We met him in Jaisalmer and we are hoping he will remember us.
Now we'll leave and go to visit a few places in Orchha, because so far we've only seen the vine-ensnared chhatris, cenopaths to Orchha's rulers, about 500m South of the village, by the Betwa River. We'll remember them as the last place that Nand showed us.
Miss you all loads and thank you again for all those sweet messages. Special thanks to my father (who brought good news), to Mikel's mother and to Leyre. I hope my mother is having a wonderful time in Denmark and that Anna's baptisism was beautiful.
A big hug to you all!!!!!!!
Idoia & Mikel.