Tuesday, September 6, 2011

{ A trip to the TAJ! }

I had to wear traditional Indian clothes! Purple Kurta, scarf, and gold salwars.

The Taj Mahal is one of the most incredible pieces of art and monuments I have seen. It is a symbol of love and the beauty of life - in physical being, spirituality, and emotion. 
A monument of love and hope.

Wednesday, August 31.
Our dear friend Riya and her dad offered to drive us to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.
We couldn't resist! 
{We is always referring to Sarah, Katie, and I unless otherwise suggested}
We had the day off work for Idu'l fits - the Muslim holiday to celebrate the end of Ramadan with a day of prayer. 
There is always a holiday or festival somewhere in India - or so they say!

The day was splendid! And very, very hot.
I loved driving through parts of rural India - the land is beautiful! 
We watched the sunrise and the sunset on the road - gorgeous!

We spotted hundreds of cows and monkeys along the roads.
As we drove through the cities of Uttar Pradesh (the most populated state in India), our car was swarmed with people, rickshaws, autos, etc. 

Driving in India is CRAZY! As I have noted several times. But a mini road trip was a whole other story! In the states, I LOVE road trips. Here, it is a much different story. It feels like you're sitting in a cart (like when you're a little kid) and going through a bumpy parking lot saying "uhaheudnduuuuhhhffafdaaaahhh" - and it doesn't stop! Until you arrive about 3-4 hours later. It's an adventure - that's for sure! But we made it safely to Agra. We were so grateful to have Riya's dad to direct us throughout the city.

Besides the heat, we picked a great day to go to the Taj! Because of the holiday, there were very few people there (haha! compared to other world renowned monuments in other countries on the same day!). It was also the middle of the week. Score for us! We didn't have to slam back and forth in the swarms of people. Not to say there wasn't still plenty of people here :)

Do you know the story behind the Taj? Because if not, you should! It certainly made me appreciate my experience more. The Taj is a mausoleum that was built by the 5th Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan for his third, and favorite wife, Mumtaz.  It was completed in 1653. It is a monument to the world of their love! In the emperor's own words:

Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory.

What a masterpiece! 

I'll let the pictures share the rest of our journey to one of the world's most beautiful pieces of art, the Taj Mahal.

Our early morning Indian Sunrise :) :)
The wild lands of India - gorgeous!
I love this - it's like the Jungle (with lots of missing trees) - beautiful!
Camel ride to the Taj!
Riya, Sarah, Liz :)
Before we entered the Taj, we had to wind our way through this other mausoleum - it was beautiful as well! I love the men in the left of the picture.
As we walked through the mausoleum archway, we saw THIS.
I absolutely love the stark contrast of the white against the dim-lit corridor of the mausoleum.

We walked out to find this huge crowd!
And the stark white against the brilliant blue sky - look at that! It's so picturesque. A friend, Ameen, was telling us that years ago, the Taj looked much more white and the pollution has tinted the marble! If you look closely, the yellow tint is evident. You can see it best in these pictures.

Every picture taken in front of the Taj looks fake - it's just too perfect!

Admittedly, I tried to make myself look better in this picture but...it just didn't happen. It was SO hot - I was sweating like a man! (haha) But it was worth it :)
Riya and I :)

Our cute group! Love these girls!

Before we entered the temple, we had little shoe slips that we put over our feet as we walked around the beautiful mosque as a symbol of respect.

We couldn't take any pictures of the inside (the tombs of the emperor and Mumtaz) but it was absolutely beautiful! The stonework is INCREDIBLE! Definitely a piece of art.

NAMASTE! Favorite :) Princess in her tower!

We were FAMOUS!
As much as I love to travel, other people can be pretty crazy! The Indians love us white folks! We constantly have people walking up to us, everywhere we go, "ek photo?" I've learned to say, "just one!" or "100 rupees?" and that makes them go away or at least go away faster! We collect mobs of people - if we're taking our pictures, an Indian will come up behind the camera man and take a picture on his cell phone, etc. It's insane. Famous in a bad way. Why do they like our white skin so much?! I want their beautiful, dark skin...

Famous, BEAUTIFUL Katie :)

They posed for me! (After they all wanted a picture with me hahaha)

I'm ridin' a camel! Beautiful animals!

Our driver gave me his hat.

Our snake charmer.

Python at the Priya.

Typical India.

Beautiful Indian Sunset...
Favorite :)

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