It is dark in India that early in the morning. Delhi is still asleep, but we are not. We do our best in order to wake all the parts of our bodies so we can start our long-expected and long-desired journey to Taj Mahal. But that is not all of it. It is not an ordinary day, it is my birthday. After the nice and half-sleepy congrats from Bistra and Martina I went to take my present from the still sleeping staff of the hotel. At the reception everything was calm and peaceful, especially the soft snoring of the receptionist and the valets.
I had to bring some chaos to this morning peacefulness when I understood that our taxi will be late with unknown amount of time. Half an hour later things started to get into place. Everything was normal, or at least as normal as it can be in India. The taxi driver came with a big sleepy smile on his face, wished us a good morning and apologized for the “normal” delay. We were finally on the road! Great! The distance between us and Taj Mahal was getting smaller slowly but consistently.
We had some breakfast at a tourist restaurant on the side of the road.
After a few hours of light sleeping and occasional small talks with the driver, who turned out to be a real Indian driver since he made us feel safe, we arrived at Agra, the home of Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
“This is a small place, sir”, playfully commented the driver “as a match box”. It turned out he was right. Only a couple of million people live there. So it is just a village!
People, camels, lots of cars, dogs and monkeys were everywhere around us. Our local guide was waiting for us and together we went for the western entrance of Taj Mahal.
We didn’t have to queue for a long time. This must be due to the fact that we arrived early or because we were foreigners and there is a separate queue for us. This is normal the ticket’s price is 37,5 times higher for foreigners than it is for locals. While we were waiting we managed to give an interview for a local electronic journal. They told us that Taj Mahal used to be closed because of an official political visit. That was also the reason for the local journalists to wonder what we think about this case.
And finally the time has come. In front of us was the white architectural miracle and the monument of an insanely huge royal love – Taj Mahal.
When you enter you have to put special overshoes (foreigners do that) or just take your shoes off (Indians do that).
Apart from being impressive from the outside, it is just as much beautiful and surprising from the inside.
The white marble and the special windows that direct the sunlight. the special stones, that are used so pieces of art can be inserted in the white marble, all give the impression of magnificence. One of the stones reacts differently to the light and creates a really beautiful “fire” effect.
At the next photo we are leaving and I am taking a picture of the Hollywood starts that are here to celebrate my birthday. Obviously I am not the only one who admires them.
|The photo-shoot continues as we are leaving.|
Our next stop is Fatehpur Sikri. It is an ancient city at about 40 kilometers from Agra. It is built on a stony hill combining Hindu and Muslim architecture. We visited a few palaces and a fortress, where the famous grave of Salim Chishti is placed. He was a saint who could do miracles. That’s why nowadays many people go there to leave there wishes at the saint’s grave, hoping they will come true. People from all religions can be seen here.
Inside you must cover your head and when you are going out you get a light touch on the top of your head. This is done for health and happiness.
The windows were made with marble carving. They look like they have glasses. We were told that this happens because the windows on the one side of the hallway have smaller holes than the ones on the other side. The fact that it is dark inside just contributes to the end result. The women inside can walk without covering their heads and no one from the outside can see their faces.
On the outside the sun was still fighting the mist, but the view was great.
Before leaving we wanted to buy some small marble elephants that have another elephant on the inside. The artist said he loved my scarf and so I gave it to him and he gave me one of those elephants.
Nearby was the palace of one of the Indian rulers who had 3 wives (Hindu, Muslim and Christian) and had separate palaces for each of them. The biggest one was for his Hindu wife, because she gave birth to a boy. Here are some photos:
From there on a few hours of driving during the night followed, so we could reach Jaipur – the third point in the Golden Triangle of India (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur). There we spent the night at a nice hotel but we didn’t even had the chance to celebrate my birthday with a beer.
On the next day, after a nice breakfast at the hotel’s garden, we enjoyed Jaipur and all it had to show us. It is called Pink City or the Indian Paris. We saw some of the famous palaces of the city.
It was time to visit the Amer Fort. It is located on a hill with a view over the Maota lake that is 11 kilometer away from Jaipur.
There you could go to the top of the fortress on an elephant, but we didn’t do that because the queue was huge. Instead we enjoyed the view and then our car took us to the top.
On the inside it was full of life – music, monkeys, elephants, tourists and traders.
|The room with the mirrors.|
Our next stop was the astronomical observatory. There were some astrological aspects there, of course, but India without its horoscope would not be the same place. It was really impressive to be able to walk around the biggest building of this kind in India, that is still functioning.
Here is a photo collage from the numerous giant tools:
Once again the Hollywood stars got some attention.
On our way to the royal tomb we made a quick stop at a Sikh temple.
The royal tombs were a very quiet place. Also, quite peaceful and with beautiful buildings. At the entrance we were welcomed by a very friendly and happy boy. He was rewarded, of course.
Here even the stories didn’t take lots of time, since we wanted to enjoy the peace and quiet. There were no other tourists, no traders, just the sun and us. It is really hard to find this kind of peace in India.
It was time to say goodbye to our guide and to get on the road to Delhi.
To sum up I will share with you my favorite saying from our driver: “Incredible India, sir!”.
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