Agra and the Taj Mahal

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I think it's required by law that visitors to India see the Taj Mahal. With that necessity in mind, I was not really looking forward to today's trip to Agra.

We caught a 6:15 train from Delhi. As we were served tea and breakfast with newspapers, scenery of ramshackle huts sped past us. I'd been warned that the poverty in India is terrible and would bother me. But it doesn't. Our world economy is not fair but we all share the same human emotions. Money doesn't change joy and sorrow. The people outside my window have happy and sad moments and so do I.

We arrived in Agra and started our touring at the Red Fort. Made of local sandstone, it really is red. The emperor who built the Taj Mahal lived here with his 3 wives and hundreds of concubines and you can tell it was a complex society by the way the courtyards and rooms are connected (or not). After Shah Jahn built the Taj Mahal, though, his son overthrew him for wasting public funds on the frivolous Taj and his red fort became a jail. Pretty nice jail, though.

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The icon of India turned out not to be such a waste of public funds after all.

Then we were off to the Taj itself. I was expecting to be bored and unimpressed. I mean, who hasn't seen a dozen photos of the building? It's a big white domed edifice. Whoopee. I figured Zoupi might enjoy it a little bit, but he wasn't allowed in. He had to go to "elephant and cell phone jail" while we visited. His jail was not as nice as Emperor Shah Jahn's.

I was wrong about the Taj. It is breathtaking. Inside the vaulted room where the mausoleums are, the tap of footsteps, the babble of talk, eand ven the visitors breathing all combine into the most chilling and enveloping sound that echos through the space. I got up close to the rail, closed my eyes and listened. Shivers ran down my spine...

Here are some un-touristy photos of the Taj and our visit there.

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Waiting for the shoe wallah to take my sneakers.

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It was so hot that we laid down on the cool marble floor in one of the porticoes.

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We spent half an hour staring up at this domed ceiling.

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We weren't alone in enjoying the a rest in the shade

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