Day trip to the Taj Mahal
Agra Travel Blog› entry 9 of 12 › view all entries
January 3rd, 2008 – by: Raches
First stop: the Taj Mahal, which was every bit as lovely as imagined. We spent a good moment admiring it from afar before exploring it, the adjacent mosque and other tomb slowly. The marble inlay work was particularly beautiful. Inside, you can view the tomb of Shah Jahan's queen, but it's very dimly lit and crowded with tourists and not particularly conducive to peaceful appreciation of the architecture.
We had lunch on a nearby rooftop restaurant - my first taste of briyani which is a sort of Indian fried rice. Then on to Agra Fort, which is different enough from Delhi's Red Fort to be worthwhile. We explored slowly and stole a nap on the warm steps in one of the courtyards. Ali took us to a marble workshop where we watched men at work. They paint the marble with henna, draw the design on it, then manually sand down the semi-precious stones to shape and stick the flowers together; chip out the design on the marble by hand until the flowers and other designs fit, and finally glue them in place. Then everything is sanded to smooth perfection. The display room was quite impressive and I felt somewhat pressured to buy something (no doubt this was a commission based visit by Ali, but I was happy to buy some marble coasters for my brother's wedding present).
The train back was not quite so nice, much more crowded and it took 4 hours to reach Delhi. Luckily a little restaurant was open in Paharganj for a late night soup and roti snack. I'm pretty sure the guys who worked there just put the tables together after we left and slept on them but at least they have somewhere dry and warm to sleep!
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