Sunday, March 23, Agra, India
For as long as I can remember I have dreamed of visiting the Taj Mahal. Truly a monument to love, and considered by many as one of the seven wonders of the world. Built on the orders of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan between 1631 and 1648, it stands as a memorial to his third and favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal who died during childbirth of their 14th child.
Taj Mahal means the “Place of the Crown”. It took 1000 elephants to haul materials and 20,000 laborers to construct the mausoleum. It was built in perfect symmetry, primarily of white marble.
“The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”. ~ Wikipedia
In 1983 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Shah was eventually imprisoned by his own son and spent the last eight years of his life locked up in Agra Fort with a view of the Taj Mahal from his chambers.
Security is very tight at the monument with everything being inspected and/or x-rayed. We were given a list of things that could not be taken inside, such as knives, finger nail clippers, weapons, food, gum or dangerous items. Right off the bat we got into trouble at security.
Some of you have seen our pal “Gus” who has traveled around the world with us and had his picture taken in many countries. He is a small stuffed animal that Tim liberated for me from one of those “claw” vending machines at the Santa Monica Pier on one of our first dates. I thought taking his picture at the Taj Mahal would make a nice addition.
Anyway, poor Gus did not make it past security. Thankfully our resourceful guide, “VeeKay” helped us out by calling someone on his cell phone who rushed to the rescue and kept Gus safe and sound for us while we explored the Taj.
Here is a picture of the poor, confused person trying to understand why in the world he was being summoned to babysit a small stuffed animal…
Located a short drive from the Taj, is the tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah. Also known as the “Baby Taj” or the “Jewel Box”, build a few years earlier (1622-1628) it is considered the draft of the Taj Mahal.
Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Agra Fort is located only a short distance from the Taj Mahal. The current structure is a red sandstone walled city from the 16th century, however originally on this same site was a brick fortress dating back to the 11th century.
We also managed to squeeze in a visit to a local marble shop where we saw intricate examples of inlaid work.
And then finally a night out on the town where we sampled local cuisine and watched beautiful dancers. Tim looks like he is having fun!
I am almost a week behind on my blog now. Hmmm, got to figure out a way to make this easier, shorter or both.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful to fulfilling one of my life dreams, a visit to see the Taj Mahal. But our day did not end there. We were able to see some of the greatest examples of architectural achievement from this period.