Agra Travel Blog› entry 1 of 13 › view all entries
The interest in Bhutan was generated after reading an article about Peter Scholl-Latour, a prolific German journalist and author who had travelled to 97% of the world and whose visit to Bhutan had left an extremely lasting impression.
Indeed most materials described Bhutan as the last paradise - a beautiful mountain kingdom that has remained unchanged over the centuries, shielded behind a natural fortress of magnificent mountains and pristine valleys. A country known for its Gross National Happiness, where its people takes pride in its culture as the last remaining Mahayana Buddhist kingdom.
We decided on the beautiful and popular high altitude trek to the base of Mt Jhomohari. At 7,314m, Jhomohari is not Bhuthan’s highest peak but as the throne of Jhomo, goddess of all peaks, it is the most sacred.
Bhutan is only accessible by its national airline, Druk Air, from various Indian cities in addition to Kathmandu and Bangkok. New Delhi was chosen due to its proximity to Agra where the magnificent Taj Mahal is located and that the flight from Delhi to Paro will reward passengers with the spectacular aerial view of the Himalayan mountains - five of the 8,000m peaks - Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu and Kangchenjunga.
The sole aim of going to Agra was to see one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage - Taj Mahal.
This splendid white domed marble and tile mausoleum is the finest example of Mughal architecture and its style combines elements from Persian, Turkish, Indian and Islamic architectural styles.
In the gist, Taj Mahal was build under Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal who died during her 14th childbirth. The construction started in 1631 and took 22 years to build with the help of 20,000 workers and craftsmen. The wisdom and talent that went into the design and architecture of this mausoleum at that time in history was just amazing.
To avoid the hordes of visitors, we were there at 6.30am in the morning expecting hardly anyone at such early hours and were absolutely wrong. In addition to the many touts outside of the Taj grounds promoting their services or wares, there were already many foreign and Indian visitors inside the Taj grounds, almost everyone jostling for the best spots to take pictures. We took time to enjoy and admire the details of the mausoleum as well as the peace and beauty of the surrounding garden and masjids (mosque).
After seeing the best, the other places of interest like the Red Fort and Baby Taj somewhat paled in comparison. Negotiating the traffic through Agra city was quite an experience as the roads were shared not only by cars, truck, auto-rickshaws but also by animals like buffaloes, cows and even camels!