Day 13: Agra - New Delhi
We’ll Always Have the Taj
I admit it; I’m a sucker for a good love story and lots of drama. Add that to the architectural marvel of one of the seven wonders of the modern world, and I didn’t have a chance. I fell in love with the Taj Mahal.
The back story, in my own words, is that the Emperor, Shah Jahan, loved his third wife, Mumtaz, so much that when she died giving birth to her 14th child in 1631, he was a mess. Rumor has it that his hair turned gray overnight, and he started building her mausoleum the next year. It took 8 years to complete and shortly after that, Shah Jahan’s third son, killed his firstborn brother and had that brother’s head delivered to Shah Jahan one night over dinner as a subtle message that he was taking over. The number two brother was smart enough to know that if he liked keeping his own head firmly attached, he’d best just keep his big fat mouth shut. So he did. Shah Jahan was thrown in house arrest by the number 3 son, now self-proclaimed emperor, and forced to only gaze at the Taj through a window for the rest of his life. He was eventually buried next to Mumtaz following his death in 1666.
Ravi told us the the Taj Mahal is now considered to be the number one wonder of the modern world, and it’s easy to see why. It’s mind boggling to me to see the perfectly conceptualized and executed design, engineering and craftsmanship of over 20,000 workers endure through the ages to remain one of the most beautiful buildings in the world today. The white marble is immaculate, and the thousands of tiny inlaid marble pieces and semi-precious stones fuse together to create the ultimate tribute to eternal love.
I should have seen it coming, but Johnny got the bright idea that I should build one of those for him when he goes. Even though I’m pretty quick witted most days, I didn’t think fast enough to ask the one question that I know would shut him up: “And just when will you be having our 14 children?” I’ll be ready with that little gem next time he brings it up.
We boarded our bus after lunch for the long ride to New Delhi. I became mesmerized by the passing scenery, trying to capture and instill every image that I knew I wouldn’t soon see again. The trip was uneventful, i.e. no penis cannons, and we made our goodbyes to Ei and C and our newly formed friends at the hotel near the airport where the trip ended for us.
We checked in to the luxurious Leela Palace hotel in New Delhi for our last two days of decompression before we head home. So many sights, sounds and smells to process about this wonderfully diverse country. And then there’s the Taj Mahal, a sight so magnificent I’m not sure that I’ll ever completely process it.