Our guide was called Salanky who was oh so lanky and very, very cool. Ex Indian Army guy, with a wealth of knowledge and excellent English and storytelling skills.
Walking through these century old corridors and courtyards where the royals roamed. The grandeur and opulence from hundreds of years ago still standing strong and beautiful!
I also really did well at Agra and kept up with everyone and Anna even commented on this and literally two seconds later I lost the lot of them! I went everywhere, in and out and no one.
I had finally been left behind!
I called Harish, who called Salanky who was on his way back to get me from Costa Coffee where he realised there was one missing!
Spent my time chatting to an old tuktuk walla called Ratan, 63 and his friends. We shared a bidi (Indian cigarette wrapped in a tendu leaf) while a family stopped to gather around us to watch me smoke with this old man. Not common to see women smoking and definitely not bidis.
When Mumtaz died he was so devastated that in his grief he decided to build the love of his life a heaven here on earth, where she would rest in paradise.
Everything to the last detail was thought of and is entirely symmetrical.
Reflections, shadows, light and movement all around!
There is a pond that Shah Jahan used to sit when the moon was full and think about his wife sleeping in a tomb in the centre of this magnificent architectural expression of love.
The project took 17 years to complete from 1631 to 1648 and took a workforce of over 20,000 people to build it. More than 1000 elephants carried all the marble from Rajasthan and materials from all over India.
I put my foot in the pond where Shah Jahan used to sit and watch the full moon and speak to his entourage about things on his mind like building a black Taj so that the beauty of the white would be even more illuminated.
Then one of the guards from a far lost the plot and started shouting at me and this other dude because he saw us dipping our feet in the pond…
It was truly a magical experience, walking through this great marble display of love! I walked barefoot through it all walking where thousands have walked from centuries ago…how many stories can the Taj Mahal tell while Shah Jahan and his beloved rest in the centre of it all!
Emily, the youngun of the group also got lost in the Taj crowd and said all these families were all over her, asking to touch her fair skin and golden hair – fair being the symbol of beauty in Asia. They kept asking her what caste she was from and she honestly replied “Australian!”.
We ended up having dinner close to the hotel at a cool restaurant, smoked some sheesha outside while listening to cool Bollywood dance tunes…
Then time for bed to be ready in the morn to depart to Tordi Garh – one of the Imaginative Traveller’s gem features – visting small remote villages!
Not many people have heard of Tordi and our host is the owner of the main palace. “A direct descendent of the feudal lord who built the palace in the 16th century,” Imaginative Traveller.