Today was a busy day as we got up early to go see the sunrise at the Taj Mahal. We took an insane amount of pictures because of its magnificence and because it was the Taj Mahal. What can you say but it must have been true love to build the Taj Mahal as a tomb for a favorited wife.
After the Taj Mahal we visited the Red Fort in Agra. Also pretty impressive but not in the league of the Taj Mahal. However the shah that built the Taj Mahal was put under house arrest in the Red Fort for 35 yeas after he was deposed by his third son. He had some elaborate quarters that allowed him to gaze on the Taj Mahal until he died.
After the Red Fort we visited a place where precious stones were inlaid in marble by hand. The tool used included a hand run grinder for shaping the semi-precious stones, a steel rod with a sharp end for carving the marble where the inlaid stones were to be placed and a flat knife for spreading the glue to hold the stones once inlaid. The glue is a special formula. This place was operated by descendants of 250 families who did the marble inlay at the Taj Mahal. One person we spoke to was the ninth generation doing this and his children the 10th. We purchased some marble here.
The tour then returned to the hotel but 9 of us decided to do some more sightseeing and we went to the Tomb of Akbar the Great, the Grandfather of the shah that built the Taj Mahal. His tomb and surrounding gardens covered 50 acres and had peacocks, antelope, parrots and monkeys just hanging around. The tomb also had 44 rooms for graves but any four were ever used. The architecture in these rooms was acoustically amazing. You could stand in the centre of the room and clap your hands and the sound was amplified so it sounded like it was coming down on you. You could also stand in one corner, facing the corner, and speak in a normal tone and a person standing in the diagonally opposite corner could hear you loud and clear, but if you stood anywhere else you could not hear what was being said.
The 9 of us then went to a Sikh temple and toured the temple inside. We had to remove our shoes and socks and wear head covers to enter. This particular temple started a community kitchen that is open to every member of the city of Agra 24 hours, 7 days a week, whether rich or poor and regardless of religious persuasion. And the food provided is free to all! Seeing the people eating in there and the operation of the kitchen and making of naan bread by the children as they sang was heartwarming.
So the day started with a rich experience and ended with a spiritual experience. It was a great day.
I will not be posting for the next three days as we are moving into an area without Wi-Fi. I will catch up when we return to a hotel with Wi-Fi.