We disembarked the train and were welcomed to Agra by colorful costumed dancers and musicians who grabbed our hands and insisted we dance. The drive to the Taj took about 30 minutes through thick and teeming, horn beeping traffic.
Our first view of the fabulous structure was from one of the gardens. We were astonished at the few numbers of visitors to the monument. The gardens are well kept. We observed women in traditional garb on their knees weeding the lawn.
We were not allowed to take anything into the Taj that had a sharp point. Inlaid in the stones are precious jewels that have been pried loose by looters. The entire structure is heavily guarded. Our feet had to be covered to avoid soiling the marble floorings
More view of the Taj
A very sacred mosque is adjacent the Taj, on the same platform.
The Taj was built in a curve of a river because the river does not erode in the curve and its foundation would be protected.
From the Taj we were driven to Agra Fort, a UN Heritage site. This fort, along with others saw, were called forts by the British but were actually housing for soldiers. The mughals (mongols) built the forts and placed cannons on them which were fired with gunpowder obtained from the Chinese. We should not forget that the Mongols, who came from the asiatic steppes, had access to the inventions of the Chinese.
Below, examples of muslim architectural themes incorporated by the mughals.
We returned to the train, visited with new friends and had a delicious fish dinner. The Indian food is good and tasty but a bit too spicy for our palates. We were constantly asking of food on the menu, “Is it spicy?” and were told each time, “Just a little.” Well, “just a little” to Indians was a bit much for us.