Kristi, Will and I were up early and were at the Taj by 6:00AM. The crowds were thin and there was no line to get in.
|Will, Kristi and me at the Taj Mahal|
First, I wish Binita were with me today. It is a monument you must visit with your loved one(s). It is, after all, a monument that symbolizes the love between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz.
|Kristi at the Taj Mahal (all happy)|
Walking in from the main gate, the Taj will take your breath away. You will already know what it looks like before you see it in real life, but it is larger than life; and it is perfectly symmetrical. With reflecting pools and gardens surrounding it, you will take dozens and dozens of pictures before you actually enter the structure. I felt energetic and exhilarated when I entered the grounds; as if there was love all around me.
|Taj Mahal from the side|
I walked slowly taking in everything around me; the sounds, the smells, the energies, the birds, the flowers, the people, the dresses, the languages, the excitement; and I felt drawn and connected to the Taj. As I entered the tomb, the pure white marble felt soft under my feet. As I walked through the main structure, the guide explained all the inlay and carvings and I imagined the thousands of artisans who must have worked on the it for 22 years. Kristi and I talked about how the grand opening of the Taj Mahal must have been like. There must have been thousands of people…but it is hard to tell if there would have been dance and music and festivities and fun; or it would have been serene. It is after all a tomb in memory of the queen.
|Will at the Taj Mahal (does he look like John Abhrams)?|
By the time we got back to the hotel, it was only around 9:30AM. We had breakfast and headed out to Red Fort. In it are palaces where Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb and other lesser Mogul emperors ruled. We saw where Shah Jahan was imprisoned and spent his last days gazing at the Taj Mahal and imagined how vibrant it must have been during the times of kings and queens. Built by Emperor Akbar, the Red Fort palaces has a variety of religions represented in its carvings (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism).
|Buddhist architecture represented in the Red Fort in Agra|
Upon returning to the hotel, all three of us worked out for about 30+ minutes before checking out and heading out to Bharatpur.
|Kristi and Will at Bharatpur Station waiting for the train|
The train-ride from Bharatpur to Ranthambhore (Sawai Madhopur) was quite uneventful. Will and I had Indian train samosas and tea. The tea was quite good but the samosas were nasty.
My family is here and I am happy and feel blessed. We are staying at a hotel that looks like a palace (but the service seems quite ordinary). Tomorrow, we go to the jungle and look for tigers, leopards, bears, chital, sambhar, jackals, crocs, etc. etc. I cannot wait!