Day 24 Thursday March 9, 2017 Agra
Today we had an early breakfast and were on our way to experience the Taj Mahal. They used to do sunrise visits but now apparently with the weather being so cloudy at this time of year they have not allowed that. The entrance has certainly changed since last time and was not my favourite thing. We got off the bus, boarded a small electric bus and were transported to the gate where we had to wait in line, then were directed to metal pipe queuse where people were ushered along. I’m glad I’m not really wide, I wouldn’t fit between the pipes! We had to merge lines and from behind me a woman pushed on my back with her belly. The second time this happened I turned and said “don’t push” and turned back, another step and again a push. I guess I have a bit of claustrophobia because i felt anxiety. Another woman in the other line we were merging with said “we don’t push” and again, next step again! I raised my voice and said “do not touch me” and that seemed to do the trick. She didn’t enter my personal space. It was great from here on.
The Taj has a romantic story and you can read about it here. For me, it is the structure, the beauty of the inlaid marble that fascinates me and I appreciate the workmanship. One of the wonders of the world, I can say my eyes feasted on it. The pictures were taken, posing on a bench, pretending to be touching the dome and our group photo. Memories!
Later we were taken to a marble factory where hand grinding of the semi precious stones were being done, the artisans having no fingerprints left after having being ground off creating these beautiful objects such as small round table tops to large rectangular tables, vases, trinket boxes etc. The prices depended on how much inlay on the item. I didn’t purchase anything but thought maybe next time I come to India?
We stayed at the beautiful Clarks Shiraz Hotel that had a lovely outside pool with palms lining the walkway towards it. The water was cold so I didn’t dunk myself but just standing on the ladder cooled me off nicely. The birds were singing and the sound of the wind rustling the leaves lulled me into a sleep that was very refreshing. Later, on our way out to dinner, the bus stopped at an ATM for some of us to get money and the skies began weep as the rain that had been threatening, began. Before dinner, we were taken to view sheikh Shams Uddin in a private gallery at Kuhinoor Jewellery. This presentation of 3D embroidery had our jaws drop in awe of the workmanship. We were not allowed to take pictures, but this website has some. Absolutely amazing…..
After a fantastic meal at a BBQ restaurant where we were served starters of meat on skewers, such as shrimp, chicken, fish and vegetables, we then were directed to the buffet where you could find anything to fill your stomach. The food was excellent and the attention given by the waitstaff was 5 star. Bon Barbeque was a hit!
Arriving back at our hotel you could hear the wind pick up and it began to storm outside. The wind and rain howled and later there was thunder and lightning. In the morning around 5:30 a huge clap of thunder vibrated the window and there was no way people slept through that one! Our group had to pack and leave this morning at 8:30 saying good bye to Agra and heading to Delhi.