Tuesday, February 22

Site seeing the Sites

The moghul emperors have good Indian names, but I just know there are seven. The first was a descendent of Genghis Khan and defeated the Sultan of Delhi. The second has a sublime persian-style tomb (and a separate one for his barber) built for him by his senior wife. The third was a favorite because he kept three wives, one of each faith: Muslim, Hindi, and Christian. The fourth died naturally on a trip but all his male relatives were murdered by his son and successor who wanted to secure the throne for himself. The murderous fifth built the Taj Mahal for his second wife's tomb, saying it "made the sun and moon shed tears from their eyes," and also built two impressive forts. The sixth overthrew his dad and locked him in one of his forts with a view of the Taj Mahal. The last, a lover of poetry, lost all 10 of his sons as they were executed by the British, who promptly took over ruling India.

Mughal architecture is enchanting. Persian influence and marble contrasted with red sandstone make for breathtaking sites. The Taj Mahal takes the cake with impressive size, symmetry, and intricate details. The ponds cleverly reflect the four-pillared building and emotion is felt in every stone. Rudyard Kipling (author of jungle book) called the Taj Mahal "the embodiment of all things pure."

I learnt this from the combined wisdom of our absolutely ruthless driver, Raj, and our faithful guide book, Lonely Planet India.

Raj spun me, Jen, and Nicole (a Dutch traveler we met) from our hostel in Delhi to the Taj in Agra in five gut wrenching hours. We stopped for nothing on the road, not car nor bus, tuktuk nor rickshaw, camel nor donkey, bicycle nor pedestrian, not even the teenage girl who bounced off our bumper. Of course we came to a respectful halt for the cow wandering through a rush hour traffic jam and to take photos of sheep being herded along the highway. All the while Raj taught us about Indian history and Indian pop music. Jai ho!


  1. I have been following your and Jen's blogs. Your trip sounds excellent thus far! I took a course in Mughal architecture and it is amazing that you get to see so much in person.
    Have a good trip!

  2. And how's the weather? I'm reading a book about the Taj that seems to say that the emperor's daughter was in love with the creator of the Taj and the creator of the Taj designed it with her in mind.... How is that for a twist? Would LOVE to see that structure for myself! Raj sounds like an extreme driver but interesting! Take care, enjoy and stay well! C.B.

  3. Hi Amelia. Glad you're finding some neat people to experience India with. We are home now but narrowly escaped that earthquake in Christchurch. We were there only 2 weeks earlier for a few days. Freaky!! Stay healthy and happy!!
    Chris W.

  4. Happy Birthday!!! Call me if you can on Skype or google or something.