Magnificent Taj Mahal
Agra Travel Blog› entry 3 of 6 › view all entries
During the reign of the Mughals, Agra was the capital of India. It is a long drive to Agra and we begin to notice that our driver has a fixed demonic grin as he negotiates the traffic. Particularly when he has just made a move that he knows will unsettle non-Indians he gives a little glance into his rear vision mirror to view his passengers. He and his young boy have an esky in their little glassed section of the bus and they keep a supply of iced, one litre bottled water which they sell to us at store prices, not hotel and restaurant prices.
In the afternoon we pick up our local guide, this time a middle aged man, have lunch and head out to Agra Fort. As we go through security screening we note the machine gun set up on a pile of sand bags trained at the arriving tourists.
Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal for his beloved and favourite second wife who he fell in love with when he saw her in the market place where the Persians traded. Mumtaz Mahal was indeed a Persian and died while giving birth to her 14th child at the age of 29 years. It took 23 years to build the TM from 1631 and the Shah continued to pine for his beloved until he died much later in life. It truly is a wonderful place with the mosque and the main resting place for Mumtaz.
It is late afternoon but the heat is relentless and the crowds are large. We are drinking water effortlessly and manage up to 5 litres a day. I have notice small babies with black smudges under their eyes and ask our guide.
It is here that we begin to realise that we are a curiosity with the Indian tourists who are checking out the same spots as us. Often we would sit down to listen to the stories that our guides are telling us. Groups of mainly young men will surreptitiously edge their way in front of us getting their mates to take a photograph of them with us as the background.