The Taj Mahal

12 February 2011

Today we had another early start taking a train down to Agra, giving us another opportunity to see what life is like outside the major cities. On arrival in Agra, we were greeted by our tour guide, Haji, then went to visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal which is the world’s most recognisable testament of one man’s love. It was something that we’d all been anticipating with high expectation and we weren’t disappointed. The Taj was built by Emperor Shah Jahan, after his beloved wife, Mumtaz, died giving birth to their fourteenth child. Her death was predicted because she had heard the baby crying in the womb during pregnancy which was a sign of bad luck. In anticipation, she made her husband agree to three final wishes:

1. Never marry another woman
2. Look after the children
3. Build a beautiful tomb for her
He kept all three promises, the third resulting in the Taj Mahal.

By learning about the story behind this it made us appreciate the tomb even more. Building commenced in 1621 after 17 designs, using 22,000 workers. The build was planned to be completed within 22 years. This number is sacred within the Islamic faith as it took 22 years to write the Koran. Furthermore, 22 can be seen throughout the design, for example 22 steps into the Taj.

All of us were in awe of the Taj. The white marble glistened in the blistering sunlight and we could not believe how large it actually was; as you enter the gardens and look at the Taj, what look like ants at the foot of the building are actually people! Our guide was very knowledgeable throughout the tour providing us with a detailed explanation. His knowledge of where to take photographs was brilliant and we have all come away with some fantastic shots.

After seeing the Taj Mahal we travelled to the Agra Fort by camel cart; this was a new experience which all of us enjoyed and Joe, Millie and Sabina even got to sit on the camel’s back!

The fort itself was very impressive, boasting two moats and a fine palace within. The most interesting part of this was that Emperor Shah Jahan, who built the Taj, was held under house arrest by his own son who believed his father was wasting the family’s wealth and fortune. The fort has gained so many different characteristics over its hundreds of years of existence, including the mosque for prayer, graves, the room in which the Emperor was held and now 75% of it provides headquarters for the Indian Army.

After a long day in the sun the time had come to have lunch then relax at our hotel, some of us taking a dip in the swimming pool.
Tomorrow we look forward to making the journey to Varanasi which involves travelling back to Delhi by coach to take an internal flight. We aim to arrive at our destination by 6pm and shall fill you in on our adventures. Once in Varanasi tomorrow evening, we shall be spending the following two days watching the sun rise over the Ganges by boat; walking through the streets of Varanasi; visiting Sarnath, the Cradle of Buddhism; spending a morning with the Jesu Ashram fraternity of the Little Sisters of Jesus based in Varanasi and finally boarding the overnight train to Kolkata.

Comments:

Jill @ John Dunlop

@ 2414 days ago

Hi everyone, just read your latest diary from Agra, what an amazing place and your photo’s are wonderful. We are loving your daily blogs, each evening we log on for the next installment. Glad to hear you got the opportunity to relax by the pool after all the early mornings and long jounreys. Be safe and God bless.

Hi Shaunagh, just sitting here at mum and dads eating KFC!!! loving the photos – you all look like you’re having amazing time, be safe, love you. lx

Elizabeth O'Grady

@ 2414 days ago

FOURTEENTH CHILD!! She earned that temple then!

Amazing pics guys!! I’m loving reading the diary.

I hope you’re all having the time of your lives. xxx

P.S, great pink shirt in that pic Chris!

Ann Palmer

@ 2414 days ago

Yet again another set of great photo’s! The Taj Mahal looks amazing!

We are all throughly enjoying reading the daily diary and following your progress, it’s the highlight of our day.