Agra, India …..January 23/16

January 23/16.. Beginning of tourDestination today is Agra to Taj Mahal. Taj..means crown. Mahal means palace.

82% are Hindu. Oldest religion 1.25 billion population in India.

12% Moslem. More than in Pakistan, 2.5% Christians

Sikhism from Punjab is only 400 years old. More Christians than Sikhs, also Buddhist only less than 1%. Jainism….only .5%…a very strict extreme religion…food, insects
Lotus temple…lotus symbol of creation

Population …20 million in Delhi (1400 sq. Kms), 22 million in Mumbai

Odd and even rule for cars to lessen pollution. ….1400 more vehicles added daily to the streets of Delhi.

20% of the area of Delhi is considered green.

Tuk-tuk or auto rickshaws use compressed natural gas.

Jaipur shopping capital
Qutab minar tallest brick minaret in world. 370 stairs 5 stories high. From top looking down, looks like lotus which represents creation. Airplanes so close you think they could touch it. Built in 1199ad …..first mosque in India 7&8 century Moslem came to India. 300,000 mosques in India more than any Moslem country. That may be because they have the second largest populated country in the world
Lotus Temple next…Baha’i religion….19th century…no idols, 1986

Rajasthan marble, best in world because it is …non porous…..used for Taj Mahal. It is spectacular.

Cities ending with “bad”were started and ruled by Muslims

“Pur” cities were started and ruled by Hindus.

Then we were off to see where Mahatma Ghandi was cremated…..surrounded by a very, very large manicured green space with flowers (dahlias) and on the centre piece of the monument…..lots of cut marigolds……lovely.

From there we hit the highway….a toll highway….no traffic, passed miles and miles of farmlands. Round huts sort of like yurts. Not sure what they are, if they are homes??? We stopped mid way to Agra for a late lunch. Everyone seemed to enjoy their meal but except the garlic naan bread, I couldn’t eat….just way way too hot for my tender mouth. This is not fun. I has ordered a yellow dhal that was supposed to be so mild it I couldn’t bear it. They even brought one that had “nothing” in it but I still could not.
January 24/16

Agra and the Taj Mahal. We didn’t go at daybreak due to chance of major fog/smog and then being unable to see it. As it is, the skies although somewhat sunny, it is hazy. Just as we were leaving in our bus, the bus supposedly broke down so off we get only to be transported in horse drawn carriages…..Indian style. That was an experience. One gal was terrified! It wasn’t scary really but fun. OH MY GOD is not enough to describe the Taj! Spectacular is not good enough….just don’t know how to describe it. Breathtakingly beautiful. All white marble with inlaid semi precious stones at the entrance and inside where you cannot take pictures or anything with you that could possibly be used to chip out one of the stones. The structure is built on a plaza that is flanked on 4 sides with canals and gardens that are the same and on the north and south side has humongous “guest houses” in red sandstone. The Taj was never a residence but a mausoleum, (built to honour the favourite wife of the Shah Jehad who died in childbirth……the 14th), so I am not sure why the guest houses.

From there we travelled to a place that has the artisans that once a week, go in to repair and maintain the Taj. They also make spectacular tables, table tops, elephants, etc…..all with inlaid semiprecious stones, for sale. Some of the group bought pieces.

Then we went to explore the Red Fort of Agra….the residence of the Shah’s family, concubines, etc. It is of course made of the red sandstone. The building(s) if you want to call it that, overlooks the river and primarily looks at the Taj Mahal….so that the Shah could look at the beautiful building that housed the body of his beloved……all the while reflecting in the river. For the last 8 years of his life, he was kept in house arrest by his son, the new leader, because along with the beliefs of Islam, to prevent further building of palatial structures…one of which he had wanted to build of black marble.

Then it was back to the hotel and yoga…..ouch!

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