Take a camel cart to the Taj!
So you can't go to Delhi
on vacation without making the 4 hour drive down to Agra
to enjoy the Taj Mahal. We had hired another private car for the journey, and the driver lead us through Delhi, pointing out major attractions or landmarks as we criss-crossed our way outside the city limits. The views on this drive we not nearly as attractive as those on the drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara. Larry and I are mountain people, and with no hills in sight, we felt even more like fish out of water. 4 hours and 1 practically forced upon us tour guide later, we were at the entrance to the Taj Mahal.
Because of pollution, Agra has banned any gas/diesel automobiles within a mile from the Taj.
The Northgate in which you enter on your way to the Taj Mahal
So we had a choice to make. Electric Car? Nah, boring. Horse? Been there, done that. Camel cart? Oh hell yes. It sounds cool doesn't it? Slowly making your way up a hill towards the Taj, being pulled by this giant foreign creature? Well, in reality, its more like slowly making your way up a hill towards the Taj, being pulled by a very smelly creature thats wearing a full diaper. So after 10 minutes of nose holding, we jumped off the cart and entered the grounds. The tour guide proved handy, and he explained many aspects of the Taj Mahal we would never have guessed. The information he provided enhanced the magic and meaning behind the structure.
The Taj itself is something out of a dream. Larry went into it, expecting to be impressed, but he was flat out floored. I felt the same way, it is definitely something you have to experience in person because photographs, no matter how great, cannot really capture the awe of the Taj.
We went on a great day! Pictures can't really do it justice....
We came on a beautiful day, with blue skies dotted by soft white clouds providing an excellent background for this architectual masterpiece. With the day being so clear, it was almost as if the the building itself was glowing. Our tour guide lead us around the grounds, taking us inside the mausoleum where the king and queen are buried, explaining the significance of the gems and writing on the walls, and kindly performing photographer duties for Larry and I. Our one regret was leaving!
On a side note, we knew something was going on when we saw a swarm of video cameras around some of the tallest people we had ever seen. As Larry scanned the faces in the crowd, he noticed a familiar face. Why, it was Ronny Turiaf, of the Los Angeles Lakers. Who's that to his right? Well its Kyle Korver, of the Utah Jazz? And what's this? More tall people! Sadly, his basketball knowledge failed him, as he couldn't recall all of their names.
My favorite shot, all the vivid colors add to the photo
Anyways, as he ran around giggling like a school girl, occasionally yelling out "Golden State Warriors Rule!", I looked on in shame. Whatever. Ronny said "Sup" to him, so he says it was well worth it.
After our brush with average NBA players, we headed back to our car and drove back to Delhi. The ride back was like a mini safari. We saw a group of 15 wild monkeys, babies included. We saw more camels, wild pigs, snakes (and their charmers), goats, bulls, sheep, dogs and peacocks. One thing to note, we saw more animals in the streets than we did women. India is truly a nation of men. It seems like that for every 30 men, there are 4 cows, 2 dogs, and 1 woman. This definitely leaves me feeling a little...out of place?