AsiaIndiaAgra

Magnificent Taj Mahal

Agra Travel Blog

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Curious children watch us

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.

This group asked us to photograph them! They didn't want money either! They were so beautiful.
  I think that we are comforted by this?!  If one of us does something dreadful we will be shot immediately!   The fort was built by Emporer Akbar who was the grandfather of Shah Jahan. Next we head out to the Taj Mahal and from the parking area we are taken by horse drawn carts.  As soon as we get off the bus we are bombarded with souvenir sellers and begging children.  Mothers with babes in arms indicating they need food for their child, which then cries piteously on cue, making us think sceptically that the poor things are being pinched to make them cry.  The guides have instructed us to take care buying from the traders and if we are tempted to buy miniature elephants, camels and snow domes of the Taj Mahal (voted the tackiest souvenirs we have yet seen) we should leave our purchase to the point of boarding the bus when prices will be less inflated.
Dancing for us before lunch

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.

typical scenes in the village
  He tells me that it is burnt mustard seed oil that is put into the eye of an infant for the first 12 months of life as the mothers believe that it cleans their eyes.  His mother put it into his eyes until he was about 10 years of age!  At the end of the day we are taken to our hotel which was fantastic after a mediocre one in Delhi.

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.

This camel has a jazzy shave-cut
  Eventually one such happening was taking  place and we called to each other "Photo opportunity!" and all put on our best pose position.  We then decided to go one better and insisted that the embarrassed guy in question, who was now well and truly sprung, should sit down in the centre of the group and we would act like he was just one of us!  Then all of them decided that they would like to be in the action and it was quite hilarious.  True to Indian culture we then each asked them for 10 rupees for the opportunity, but I don't know if they got the joke! 

 

 

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Curious children watch us
Curious children watch us
This group asked us to photograph …
This group asked us to photograph…
Dancing for us before lunch
Dancing for us before lunch
typical scenes in the village
typical scenes in the village
This camel has a jazzy shave-cut
This camel has a jazzy shave-cut
the delight of the children seeing…
the delight of the children seein…
The single village pump, drive thr…
The single village pump, drive th…
The room at Jaipur, me with my mar…
The room at Jaipur, me with my ma…
Agra
photo by: rotorhead85