Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A true wonder of the world: The Taj Mahal at Dawn

We arrived safely in New Delhi mid-afternoon on Monday and got straight into a mini-van to drive to Agra.  We endured interminable traffic leaving Delhi (if I ever complain about Houston traffic again, remind me - harshly - that "it is oh so much better than Indian traffic").  We  did not arrive in Agra until late that evening and headed straight to bed.
Next morning we left the hotel at 6AM so we could get in the Taj Mahal security check line right as it opens. We walked out of the hotel and then straight back in. It was FREEZING cold outside - shocking.  So we all went back to our rooms to get long sleeved shirts and hoodies and anything we had to keep warm.  It was probably in the 50s until the sun came up.
But what a wonder....being at the Taj in the early morning light.  Amazing.  It was not yet crowded with people and the soft light makes the white marble almost glow.

We spent close to two hours there and got all of the "money shot" photos...

Including ... holding the top of the Taj Mahal with your fingers

And - of course - the not to be missed ....Jumping for Joy... shot

Nothing cheesy about this group.

After breakfast, we headed over to the Agra Fort which - by any standards - is an impressive fort.

I love the combination of red and white carved sandstone.

Last stop in Agra was at a pietra dura factory to see how the industry has not changed in over 1,000 years. Pietra dura is the art of inlaying semi-precious stones into hand-chipped-out-channels in the white marble to create the same patterns as the Taj Mahal. They still use NO electronics (drillers, sanders etc). Everything is done by hand.

Then just to truly rub in how fortunate we are, we lunched at the Oberoi hotel (one of the most luxurious hotels in the world). We rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous and thanked our lucky stars that we were born into our circumstances - and had these opportunities - versus the abject poverty outside the window of our mini-van.

We are back in Delhi now and heading for Varanasi in the morning.

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