Agra Part 2

Continued from Agra Part 1.

Through security I go. They actually had real security here, unlike all the other places I’ve visited. They made me take everything out of my bag and inspected everything very carefully.

I was so happy to be here that I was just laughing and smiling as I strolled in by myself. I just couldn’t keep the excitement and happiness inside. I took this self photo right then because this is another way for me to remember how happy I was. The smile didn’t have to be faked for the photo.

Still smiling.

There she is!!!!!!!!! AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! So excited!

Sigh. No words can describe the feeling of seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time. It’s just so amazing that it doesn’t even look real. It looks like it came out of a dream somewhere. I don’t believe I’ve ever been so excited to see a monument, ever. It’s been on my bucket list for such a long time and I’ve always known it was not going to be a cake walk for me to see it. By what has happened so far this morning, it hasn’t been a cake walk.

I forgot to line up straight for the reflection pool. Oh well. Not the end of the world. The reason why I forgot to line up straight was because I ran into the four other guests from my hotel here. They too had made it to the Taj Mahal at around the same time as me. They were with a tour guide and had rented a car. They asked me I wanted to join them in their day with their car and guide. Awesome! I agreed, but said that I would need to compensate my rickshaw driver, who was waiting for me, for his lost time. They agreed and would go to the South Gate first with me. This day started out terrible, but since then, it has just been getting better and better.

Can’t stop me from smiling. The sun was shining in the wrong direction and I had to use a flash for this photo. It looks like I was superimposed into this dreamy sepia photo of the Taj Mahal. But, I think this captures the essence of the moment. The Taj Mahal was so out of this world and out of reach that I may just as well be superimposed in the photo.

Everyone trying to hold onto the Taj Mahal in their photo.

This one made me laugh.

The Taj Mahal almost looks real in this photo.

Our tour guide and my four new friends. They are from Estonia.

The tourists go one route, and the locals go another route.

The minarets have a slight outward lean so that in an event of a collapse, they would have less of a chance of falling into the tomb.

About to go inside, time for fashionable shoe covers to go on.

Lots of people today.

Long line for the locals.

With our tourist ticket and tour guide, we literally walked to the front of the line, and just waltzed right in.

It is really dark inside and it’s crowded. There are security guards everywhere. But the first thing that I, or anyone else, noticed was the constant whistle blowing by the security guards to move the crowd along. It was shrill and nonstop. Such a tranquil building on the outside, but inside, it’s still India.

I took these crappy spy photos. There were many others taking photos inside as well.

The stone work here inside takes the cake.

The dome. No, not my forehead.

The back of the Taj Mahal looking at Yamuna river.

You can kind of see the lean of the minaret here.

These guys asked to take a photo with me. Another Being Human shirt! I need to buy one for myself now. Our tour guide admonished me afterwards for taking photos with them because apparently they use this as a distraction to pickpocket you sometimes. This time around, I didn’t feel like that was the case because it was clear that I was there with my friends and they were looking over me. Plus I just didn’t get that vibe from these guys. Anyhow, the tour guide said that if I had gotten pick pocketed under his watch, and I went to report at the police station, the police would blame the tour guide for not keeping a careful eye on me.

We all share the same taste in sexy footwear.

The building to the left of the Taj Mahal is a mosque. This mosque looks to me to be about the same size of Jama Masjid in Delhi. The Taj Mahal completely dwarfs this building. I am glad that I saw the Jama Masjid first before the Taj Mahal for I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the Jama Masjid as much otherwise.

Continuing on with the premium ticket service.

South Gate that I entered from.

Ah, beautiful view seen from walking out the restroom door! Hah!

This is the West Gate where the great majority of the tourists enter. PN had a deck of cards held at security. Apparently, playing cards can be used as a deadly weapon and be made into explosives in the Taj Mahal.

We all eventually left from the South Gate. I found my rickshaw guy, told him that I found my friends from the hotel, and I will be going with them instead. I gave him 50INR for the hour that he waited, but he said that he would like 100INR. I didn’t fight him on it as I was the guy who changed the plans on him. Just glad that I found him and took care of that as that would have ate away at my conscience ever so slightly if I never went to settle with him.

More free range cows around Agra.

Our vehicle is a 7 seater Toyota SUV. It was 1600 INR total, 1250 for the car and 350 for the guide.

Pear from Estonia. These were nonchalantly and accidentally smuggled into India. Well traveled fruits.

Our ride. It may not be much to look at, but it got the job done.

We’ve arrived at Agra Fort.

Monkeys. I always think of monkeys are bratty little kids. Or is it the other way around?

The first thing that comes to mind when looking at this photo is “underboobs”. Maybe it should be “bolt-on underboobs” since there’s a canyon between them.

My and my new friends. From left to right. PN, PS(Pirate Seaman. Really, that’s what her name sounds like! Argh Matey!), KT, and RL.

How do they make the none elevated portions of the carving so flat?

A step up, but, must be in marble.

I wonder why this technique is used more often. The marble that they use is translucent, and will allow light through when it’s thin enough.

Wonder what this is?

Our guide told me to stand here. There’s a vent at the top where water will flow down to cool the person standing under it. For those hot humid summer days.

Taj Mahal. It’s a very smoggy day.

Interesting stair design. I guess you can get a faster drop this way.

This is where the king hold court with his people. He eats here and prays here with them. Then afterwards, he goes back to his palace while they go back to…well, probably nothing.

Time to leave.

We risk our lives just crossing streets here.

Trash everywhere. I can’t believe I complained about the trash in Paris.

It was time for lunch, and our guide took us here. I am not sure we had a choice. I am sure our guide and driver got some sort of commission for taking us here. Oh well, I am not going to fight them on this because I wouldn’t know where else to eat anyway.

The place was empty and seemed like it catered to Asian tourists. They had a lot of Chinese food items on the menu.

My new friends passed around this pocket bottle of Jager and we all took a swig from it. They said that someone else told them this would prepare our stomachs for the potentially poisonous food that we’ll be eating. Sounds good to me.

I got the vegetarian plate in fear of eating bad food while being so far away from hotel.

When was the last time you saw one of these old school coke bottles? This one looked like it had been in circulation for a long time too.

How do such conservative societies accept something sensuous like belly dancing?

Gotta have AC.

After lunch, we had a lot of free time, and our guide suggested that we can look at some shops. Obviously, he would get some sort of commission for us looking at these shops. We were tired and had no other plans so we went along with it.

It was actually really cool to watch this guy make a rug. He would tie a knot very quickly and cut the strand of carpet fiber just as quickly. He knew exactly which string needed which color at which interval by heart. It was pretty amazing.

Apparently, real wool does not burn easily.

We were taken up to the upstairs show room, where we were shown to a nice long couch.

Then carpet upon carpet were laid out in front of us to try to entice us to shop. None of us did. I think they were going for like $350 shipped to our door. That’s actually really not that bad of a price, and I bet you could haggle that price down as well. They claimed these were all handmade, but who knows. But even if not hand made, there are plenty of machine made carpets that go for more than that price for this size.

To be continued at Agra Part 3.

1 thought on “Agra Part 2

  1. Ahh the Taj Mahal pictures are amazing! So surreal being there. The carpet stores are fun…they are so soft, take a little rest and lay down.

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