Scott in India 2005 travel blog

Taj Mahal at dawn

Gateway to Taj Mahal (at dawn)

Dave and Mary at the Taj Mahal (Crown of Palaces)

Abhishek explains the Taj

Mary at the Taj

Recessed arches in the Taj Mahal

Marble panel at the Taj Mahal

Close-up of pietra dura (marble inlaid with semi-precious stones)

Taj Mahal at sunrise

A monkey contemplating the Taj

The Taj Mahal

Mosque (in red stone) and Taj Mahal

Symmetry in every part

Taj Mahal

An enormous sago palm at Taj Mahal gardens (with a gardener)

Our tour group at the Taj

A city street in Agra

A memorial statue

In Agra

The Agra Fort (built in 1570)

Across the Yamuna river

A family in a shanty-town.

In Agra

A shrine to Ganesh at our hotel, the Mansingh Palace, in Agra

At Pizza Hut in Agra (finally)

Waiting for train to Varanasi

Boarding the train

On night train from Agra to Varanasi

Porters at Varanasi station

Porters with our luggage at Varanasi station

Louise's luggage


Mary wrote:

AGRA

Agra was the imperial Mughal capital during the 16th and 17th centuries, now renowned for what is perhaps the most famous and beautiful building in the world - the Taj Mahal. "The Taj" was built in the 17th century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb and memorial for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died bearing their 14th child. We arrived at dawn to find the site shrouded in a light fog, presenting a spellbinding sight. There were no crowds at that time. We wandered around undisturbed, admiring the intricate stone inlays pf calligraphy and flowers that adorn it almost completely. No picture I'd seen or description I'd read had done the monument justice.

Amazing to learn was that the British governor in 1890s actually had the cranes in place to dismantle The Taj in order to auction off its marble in England as a revenue-raising scheme. Only the poor response to his try at auctioning off red sandstone from the Agra fort saved The Taj from ruin.

On the opposite bank of the river Yamuna is the impressive Red Fort from where we later took in other views of The Taj. This particular fort housed the capital of the Moghul Empire and thus of all India. In it the emperor Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son for spending the empire into the hole, giving him only a view of The Taj from his top-floor cells.

That night we boarded the train for a 14-hour trip to Varanasi. Porters were hired to carry our baggage, which was a sight to behold. Each man carried three suitcases or backpacks on his head, up a steep flight of stairs, across train lines, and back down again, all without one mishap. The accommodations were basic, bench-seats becoming sleeping platforms at night. Not much else to report regarding the long night that you can't readily imagine sympathetically



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