Day 3 Travelling to Agra and the Taj Mahal

posted Jan 8, 2011, 7:26 AM by Darren Cannell   [ updated Jan 21, 2011, 7:43 PM ]
It took almost 2 hours to drive out of Delhi, this massively large city of 17,000,000 people.  Delhi is 60 kms around which is hard to believe. The traffic here is horrid and it should have taken 20 minutes to get out but due to the excruciatingly slow traffic it was endless.  Once out of the city you would occasionally see green fields of a crop or mustard fields which are pretty and yellow.  The haze or fog is really bad in the morning in the winter here and it lasts until the afternoon but it is still hazy due to the fires to keep people warm and the pollution.  The mounds of trash and garbage which is literally everywhere is a bit overwhelming if you dwell on it.  There does not seem to be any organized garbage removal in India or at least there is no evidence that there is.  Dogs and cows and oxen eat from the garbage so that is awful to see.  Apparently India has just banned the use of plastic bags by all Indians due to the sacred cows eating of vegetable refuse in plastic bags and ingesting the plastic as well.  Many cows have died due to the intake of pounds of plastic in their stomachs and that is a big No No here so no more bags.  Personally I think that is very progressive and Canada should be doing this as well and sooner rather than later  Canada is a first world nation not a third world nation like India and we should be ashamed of ourselves.
The tent cities which are full of Gypsy type people and shantytowns along the way are very depressing and it is hard to believe that people live in such poverty but they do and millions of them here in India.  India’s shantytowns make South Africa’s shantytowns look deluxe.  There were also some unusual mud or clay houses with thatched roofs along the way and they were really tiny about the size of a shed to live in and most of the country people have 11-14 children so this is also unbelievable.  The cities Indians have families of 3-6 usually.

We stopped for a pee break and to stretch our legs because it is usually a 5 hour drive to Agra.  We entered Agra and it seemed a little less chaotic than Delhi with more cows walking wherever they want to and pooping wherever they want, but they are sacred so you cannot corral them.  Women gather their poop and mix it with straw and make them into patties and dry them and stack them and then the men load them up on a cart and people buy them to burn for fuel.  So the cows do have their use I guess.

We checked into our hotel in Agra called the ITC Mughal Sheraton Luxury Collection Hotel.  It was quite deluxe and elegant with the best restaurant that I have experienced so far on our entire journey.  It was an Indian restaurant called Peshawri specializing in kebabs which is downstairs in the ITC Mughal.  I highly recommend this place for spicy Indian food.  I absolutely loved this lentil soup called Dal Bukhara which is the house specialty; it is one of the best soups (but relaly a meal) that I have ever eaten and it was mildly spicy and a dish that is cooked overnight.  I could rave about this forever, I loved it!  I also had a chicken kabab which was excellent and the next night I ate by myself because Darren and Dax don’t do spicy food and I ordered from the Vegetarian menu and got a dish with spinach and other things made into a kebab and you shove red onion into the hollowed out area to add crunch and then you can add a hot spicy green lentil spice to add more zip.   It was zippy enough for me.  I ordered two glasses of wine and had a nice night out by myself and my Kindle and read my book.  I told Darren that I am going to do this more often to get some alone time.  I can’t have girlfriend time so at least I will get some alone time once and a while.  Just a note on Indian wine, I tried two different Indian Reds and neither of them were good for me, they were two sweet so I had ordered the imported wines and I paid dearly for them, which I commented on to the manager.  He was very interested in what I had to say when I said that I run a blog and would be mentioning his delicious Dal Bukhara in my posts.

They were coming to pick us up to go to the Taj Mahal because it was closed on Friday which is their holy day.  There was airport security style at the Taj because terrorists have threatened to blow up this beautiful site.  I detest ignoramuses like these idiots (get a life).  The Taj Mahal is one of the Modern Wonders of the World and was built in the 16th century.  The Taj is very breathtaking and you first see it through the main gate and it was still foggy so it looked so ethereal in the mist.  It looks completely fake floating on the land.  It almost looks like a mirage and you still don’t believe that it is a real tangible object until you actually touch the copious amounts of marble that went into this site of love.  The Shaw Jahan (ruler at that time) built it for his beautiful wife who bore him 14 children and died on the last childbirth.  The whole story is a great and wonderful love story that should be made into a Hollywood blockbuster.  I am sure Bollywood has done it, but maybe not.  The Taj took 22 years to build and this was paid labour, the Shaw did not have slaves apparently.  Both the Shaw and his wife are entombed underneath the Taj, you can only go into the Taj on the main floor not down below.  The Taj is flanked by two beautiful Mosques as well and walls and gates of red sandstone.  There is tons of inlaid semi-precious stones into the marble with jade, lapis lazuli, red coral, black onyx, turquoise etc.  Much has been pilfered from invading armies.  There are a multitude of gorgeous Arabic writing in black which is very pretty and inlaid in the white marble.  The Taj has 4 completely identical sides.  We often stopped to sit in wonder just to gaze longingly at this monument because it is such an amazing love story behind it and that a man could love a woman so much to invest the time, money and energy into this monumental task for 22 years makes you believe that love can be eternal.  This white ornate marble monument of beauty makes your heart sigh for the human spirit of mourning ones loved one for eternity.  Sad but beautiful (I am getting all Verklempt now).

One of the sons of the Shaw was a fanatical Muslim (hate those guys and any other fanatical religious person) and did not like that his father would not demand that all Indians become Muslim so he had his father captured and imprisoned for 8 years in the palace or Red Fort of Agra.  His prison came complete with views of the Taj Mahal.  After the father died, his horrid son had him entombed with his Mom, which was the least the little bastard (pardon my French) could have done.

India and the Taj Mahal