India Day 3: Boo-yah

entrance to the Taj Mahal

It never occurred to me how long I'd wanted to see the Taj Mahal. Maybe all my life. And when we passed through the gate above, to see this amazing structure in its glory, It was an emotional moment for me. Scratch that one off the bucket list.

After four hours of Delhi to Agra traffic, lunch at a tourist trap our driver "recommended" to us (ie he gets free lunch and a commission), we made it to the Taj at the hottest time of the day...and none of that f***ing mattered. It was one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen.

And it's not just the structure that's beautiful. Here's a few details from various parts of the Taj: detail 5detail 3detail 8detail 4detail 6 detail 2detail 1

Here's the interior dome of the mosque: interior of the mosque

Part of me just wanted to stay there all day...have laundry...curl up on one of the marble floors...but or course none of that's allowed. Except for the laundry thing--I forgot to ask.

From there, it was off to the "Ghost City," Fatehpur Sikri, a kingdom built centuries ago, but abandoned due to drought. It's still intact, right down to the walls and temples.

Entrance 2

One of them, called the "baby taj," is supposedly the building that inspired the architecture of the Taj Mahal.

ghostcity 3--the "baby taj"

prayer yarn in dark templeOne of the temples had an altar covered with little ties of brilliantly colored yarn. If you wanted to pray to someone, for their good health, success, etc., you took a piece of yarn, tied it there, and said a little prayer.

It's an amazing place, but the touts are thick as flies in this place...including some of the most annoying children, constantly trying to touch you, beg you for money, and generally keep themselves entertained at your expense. annoying kids

We also had a young man glom onto us, offering to be our guide, asking no donation, as he was supposedly the equivalent of a park ranger. We let him, but ditched him when the "tour" stopped by the "best" craft vendor. Odds are he was lying and this was yet another grift. Does that make us sound like jerks? Sorry. I guess you'd have to be there.

From there, we drove another two hours to Baratpur, a town on the way to Jaipur. we chose from one of two guide-"recommended" guest houses, took the cheaper one, and in our first non-AC bed in India, almost got heatstroke as the power quit for most of the night and we learned a valuable lesson about (1) choosing a place with ventilation, and (2) NOT choosing a place that our guide recommends. Well, actually we didn't learn that lesson until the next day. But that's a "day 4" story.

Ghost City sky

natacha at the tip of the shadow 1