WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2013:


All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

This morning we left Jaipur bound for Agra.
It was a seven hour, 160 mile journey. We made a couple rest stops along the way.
We also stopped for lunch at the Laxmi Vilas Palace in the town of Bharatpur.
Rest stop on the highway to Agra Laxmi Vilas Palace in Bharatpur, India Laxmi Vilas Palace in Bharatpur, India

After a very nice lunch on the beautiful property we drove the rest of the way to Agra.
Agra is located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
We checked in to our hotel the five star ITC Mughal Hotel.
My room at the ITC Mughal Hotel in Agra, India

The video below is 4 minutes long of my accommodations in Agra.

After checking into the hotel we took a horse-drawn tonga ride to
the outer courtyard gates of the Taj Mahal for our afternoon visit.
The main gateway (darwaza) is a monumental structure built primarily of marble which is reminiscent of
Mughal architecture of earlier emperors. Its archways mirror the shape of tomb's archways, and its
pishtaq arches incorporate the calligraphy that decorates the tomb.
Horse-drawn tonga ride to the Taj Mahal Horse-drawn tonga ride to the Taj Mahal The Great gate (Darwaza-i rauza) at the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of
his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as "the jewel of Muslim
art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage".
It was built from 1632 to 1653.
The Taj Mahal in Agra, India The Taj Mahal in Agra, India The Taj Mahal in Agra, India

In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Taj Mahal in Agra, India My group at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India The Taj Mahal in Agra, India

At the far end of the complex, there are two grand red sandstone buildings that are open to the
sides of the tomb. Their backs parallel the western and eastern walls, and the two buildings are
precise mirror images of each other. The western building is a mosque and the other is the jawab,
whose primary purpose was architectural balance.
The Taj Mahal Mosque Me at the Taj Mahal Leaving the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
After leaving the Taj Mahal we returned to the hotel for dinner.

The video below is 16 minutes long of the Taj Mahal.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON FEBRUARY 6, 2013
Namaste,

After breakfast we hit the road to our next destination. Today we had to drive 160 miles to Agra. The highway to Agra was in a lot better shape than the highway between Delhi and Jaipur. Today was mainly a rural drive and a lot fewer towns. At 11:30 we stopped for lunch in Bharatpur. Like was the case yesterday, we had lunch in a palace.



After lunch it was an hours more drive until we reached Agra. We checked into our hotel and then went to see the Taj Mahal. We rode there in horse-drawn buggies. Below is a picture of the mosque on one of the sides of the Taj Mahal.



We walked through the gate and finally got to see what we had traveled half way around the world to see.



It is an amazing site.



No photography was allowed of the tombs inside. They wouldn't have come out anyway, it is very dark in there.



We took a group picture in front of the Taj Mahal.



Did you know that they have a running of the bulls here in Agra like they do in Spain? I gave it a shot as we were leaving the Taj Mahal.



We had dinner at the hotel when we returned. We will spend all day here in Agra tomorrow. We are going back to the Taj Mahal at sunrise. Since I have to get up early I will go to bed now.

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.



THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2013:

Thursday began with a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal.
The Great gate at sunrise The Taj Mahal at sunrise The Taj Mahal at sunrise

Emperor Shah Jahan himself described the Taj in these words:
Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory.
The Taj Mahal at sunrise The Taj Mahal at sunrise The Taj Mahal at sunrise

We had a perfect morning for viewing the Taj Mahal.
Skies were clear with no smog or haze.
After leaving the Taj Mahal we returned to the hotel for breakfast.
The Taj Mahal at sunrise The Taj Mahal at sunrise The Taj Mahal at sunrise

Late in the morning we visited the Agra Fort.
Agra Fort was originally a brick fort, held by the Hindu Sikarwar Rajputs.
It was mentioned for the first time in 1080 AD when a Ghaznavide force captured it.
Sikandar Lodi (14881517) was the first Sultan of Delhi who shifted to Agra and lived in the fort.
Me at the Agra Fort entrance The Agra Fort in Agra, India The Agra Fort in Agra, India

The Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Agra Fort in Agra, India The Agra Fort in Agra, India The Agra Fort in Agra, India
After lunch at a local restaurant I spent a relaxing Afternoon and evening at the hotel.

The video below is 8 minutes long of my visit to the Agra Fort.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON FEBRUARY 7, 2013
Hello,

Some of us got up very early to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise. We were the very first ones let inside when they opened the gates this morning. It was a beautiful morning. The light was absolutely perfect. They said this was the first morning in a week that has been clear, so we really got lucky. Below is a picture of the gate we entered at sunrise. As you can see, no people yet. It was so peaceful.



I got a lot of good shots. Nice reflection in the early morning light in the picture below.



That is me on the left in the picture below. Nice reflection in this photo as well.



Below is a nice shot from the side looking through the trees with the Taj bathed in early morning light.



A nice close shot below as the sun is rising and casting a brighter light on the Taj.



I could include about a hundred more but I'll finish with a final distant shot after the sun was fully up.



We went back to the hotel for breakfast after leaving the Taj. Then we went to a marble inlay shop for another sales pitch. I would normally be pissed by this but they really had a lot of beautiful things. I actually purchased a beautiful large white marble elephant. It's too big to bring home so it is being shipped. They say it will take 4-6 weeks to get there. After I bought the elephant I guess they thought they had a sucker on the hook, so I got a private tour of the facility where they tried to sell me more stuff. I was tempted, they had some really nice things, but they didn't get any more money out of me.

Next we went to the Agra Fort. The ruins of this fort are located across the river from the Taj Mahal.



The shot below was taken inside this fort which was built in the 15th century.



Next we went to lunch at a local restaurant. I managed to crack a tooth while I was eating my lunch. I was eating rice at the time and wondered what that hard thing was in the rice. When I swallowed I noticed part of my tooth was gone. I went to see my dentist right before I left because I was haveing some occasional discomfort in one tooth and didn't want to have a problem while I was gone. He filed down a high point on one tooth and said I was fine. I didn't think that was the problem. I'm having no pain. Hopefully it will stay that way until I get home. I sure would hate to go to a dentist here.

Some of the other members of the group spent the afternoon visiting the local marketplace and having tea at a local home. I chose to skip that and spent a relaxing afternoon at the hotel. We have to get up early again tomorrow to catch a train to Khajuraho.

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.

The video below is 45 minutes long of my two day visit to Agra.




Click on the arrow above to continue to my next stop, KHAJURAHO, INDIA!

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