Today we went to the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, both in Agra which is near Delhi. It was an amazing day. The Taj is incredible. My experience seeing the Taj is much like the first time I saw the Grand Canyon. It is such a beautiful building – a true wonder of the world – and is breath taking. The story of the Taj Mahal is very romantic and the white marble has a sheen to it that makes it very romantic looking, too. The Taj was built in memory of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. She is buried in the Taj as well as Shah Jahan. Mumtaz Mahal died at the age of 39 giving birth to their 14th child. She made several last requests including that the Shah build a memorial for her. The Shah kept all of the promises he made to his wife as she was dying. This was one experience that I wish I could have shared in person with my husband, Dave. The Taj Mahal is the resulting memorial that Shah Jahan built. Later in life, Shah Jahan was imprisoned in Agra Fort for eight years. He could look lovingly (and longingly) at the Taj Mahal from his window (see picture below). He died on the balcony that overlooks the Taj. Both the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort have beautiful pietra dura which is stone inlay in white marble. Agra Fort is an amazing complex and housed several Mughal emperors, their wives, concubines, and servants. The Fort also has many monkeys running round the entry way.
On our way back to Delhi we stopped at a restaurant for dinner and also posed in front of an elephant. Some of the group also took a short camel ride!
The ride to Agra took about 5 hours. The ride back was about 6 hours. The traffic always amazes me.
Tomorrow is my last day in India. So, this may very well be my last entry before I get back to the US.