Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal Day had finally arrived.

Our driver for the day was Ashok. Here is what we know about him. He is from a village near Jaipur. He married a woman of his same caste from a nearby village (intra-village marriage is not allowed). They now live in Delhi and have a son and a daughter. His son plays cricket and his daughter is the top student in her class. He learned his more-than-adequate English from tourists. He has been sober for 6 years and prays to Hanuman the Monkey God every morning.

Ashok and his ride in front of our hotel.

Here I am in the front seat ready for action.

Along the three hour drive to the city of Agra and the Taj Mahal we encountered oxen, camels, monkeys, boa constrictors and cobras. Once in Agra we added elephant to the list. When we stopped at a place to pay tolls we were surrounded by vendors including these animal handlers. Tati gave them some money to take pictures. I tried to ignore the whole circus.

We saw a temple dedicated to Krishna in the distance in the town of Mathura where Krishna was born. It seemed weird to be driving through of town where the 8th avatar of Vishnu was born. I see in the Wikipedia that Krishna and I may actually share a birthday,

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Oxen along the highway. Note the snake behind the monkey.

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I love the picture of the man selling elephant rides and photo ops.

We hired a guide to tour the Taj Mahal for 250 rupees ($7.00US). The entrance fee was 750 rupees. Han gave us very good general facts about the history and architecture and knew all the right angles for pictures. We were lucky in our timing apparently. The week before there had been long lines to get in. We breezed in after being wanded and searched by security.

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Maja and I outside the entrance and my ticket.

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We had to wear socks near and in the main building. Here Tati takes a picture of her "shoe socks".

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Flooring and wall (marble with semi-precious stone inlay) detail

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Han our guide is with me and Maja.

After leaving the Taj Mahal Han said he knew of craft shops that had quality goods and asked if we would like to shop. We were like "Duh???". He was pretty upfront about the fact that he got a 1% commission from these places. I appreciated his honesty. So we headed back to the streets of Agra.

I like the decoration of this rickshaw in Agra. The sari on the motorcycle was also nice.

We went to a place where they made marble similar to the facade of the Taj Mahal. I managed to resist the huge marble table tops they were offering (i can only imagine what it would cost to ship a marble table top) and bought some small items.


We then went to a jewelry shop where I had no intention of buying anything but charming Amit insisted on finding something in my "price range". He started with Star of India rubies, diamonds and gold but we ended with a small Star of India ruby and silver. It is a simple but lovely ring. Maja bought some lovely birthday presents for herself.

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We then took the 3 hour trip back to Delhi, ate a quick dinner and headed to the airport to leave the continent.

Photo Credit: Tati took many of these pictures.