Our day in Agra started out very early. Our tour guide wanted us to see the Taj Mahal in the morning sun.
This first picture is just a teaser. I need to back up to the beginning.
Our tour group consisted of 16 people. Five of those people were Chinese, all relatives, who had come to India for a wedding and decided to do the tour before they went home.
They were all dressed up to have their pictures made at the Taj Mahal. They looked so pretty, I asked them to please pose for a picture, which they happily did.
As you can imagine, the Taj Mahal is the biggest tourist attraction in India. You can't just park your car nearby. You have to go to it from the remote parking lot in provided carts.
So, what is the Taj Mahal? It is a mausoleum built by the emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth. It is set in a beautiful 42 acre park. The building was started in 1632 and completed in 1653. After his death, Shah Jahan's tomb was placed beside hers in the mausoleum.
This is the gate into the Taj Mahal.
If you look closely at the picture below, you can see a glimpse of the Taj Mahal through the opening of the gate. It was at this moment my heart started to beat hard. I could not believe that we were actually going to see it. How exciting.
As we walked through the gate and it came into full view, I gasped.
It was ever bit as awesome as I had imagined it would be. Was it crowded? Yes. Did that matter? No. The grounds are so enormous it absorbed the crowd easily.
We were able to go inside, barefooted of course, but they did provide us with little footies to wear. The inside was very dark and you could not see much. There were many people passing through in a never ending line. The actual tombs were hard to see.
Here is Chuck on the porch of the mausoleum, looking at the Yamuna river which is behind the mausoleum.
Looking from the mausoleum back towards the entrance building.
Another view of this beautiful monument.
After we left the monument, I took this picture on the way out, of the ladies in our tour group.
We visited other sites that day, but honestly, after the Taj Mahal, everything else was anti-climatic.
We went next to the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah. It was built between 1622 and 1628 and was probably an inspiration for building the Taj Mahal. Like the tombs before, we entered through a gate.
Our tour group below entering through the gate.
Once inside is the white marble mausoleum. It is set in the middle of a huge garden, criss crossed with water courses and walkways.
Once inside, I spotted this mama and baby monkey looking out over the crowd below.
What a fantastic day. We were very fortunate because our tour guide told us that sometimes it is so foggy you can hardly see the Taj Mahal. On his last tour he said he had to almost take the tour group up to the building and put their hands on it. The weather was perfect for us and we are so grateful.
Our next post will continue with more of our travels.