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Our world Travel On 10th May 2007 I fled the UK on a journey around the world with a long list of places to go. Got as far as the Philippines where I met my wife. We got married on 11th May 2010 and are now sharing the experiences of travelling the world together


INDIA | Monday, 19 November 2007 | Views [1081]

Sun 18th Nov - first day of the tour and off around Delhi. Started in old Delhi at the enormous 'Lal Qila' Red Fort. With a perimeter of 3.5km this would take a whole day just to see it. Not much time so only a quick look at the outside. Built by the mugham emperor Shah Jahan in 1648. He was going to move the capital from Agra to Delhi or Shajahanasbad as it was to be called, but he was deposed by his son who then imprisoned him in the red fort in Agra. What a swine of a son eh!

Next off to the 'Jama Masjid' mosque by cycle richshaw. This is the largest mosque in India, completed in 1658. Large enough to hold 25,000 pilgrims, it is enormous, although I have to say, not very impressive architecturally.

Next the 'Raj Ghat', on the banks of the Yamuna river, is where Mahatma Ghandi was cremated following his assassination in 1948. A black marble slab with a flame burning in a large lantern marks the spot with nice gardens surrounding it.

Off into New Delhi now and the large open spaces away from the enclosed bustling old delhi. The 'Raj Path' or literally translated 'Kingsway', terminates in the grand archway of 'India gate'. This 42m high arch is a memorial to the 90,000 indian army soldiers who died in world war 1, the northwest frontier operations and the 1919 Afghan war.

The area is also home to the official residence of the president of India at the palacial 'Rashtrapati Bhavan'. The area is full of majestic buildings worthy of some time, such as the 'Sansad Bhavan' parliament house which is built like a modern day coloseum, surrounded by pillars.

A big highlight was the trip to the 'Bahia Lotus temple'. Shaped like an unfolding lotus flower, it is a beautifully simple piece of architecture, one of seven Bahia temples throughout the world (each unique, but all with 9 sides). This one has 27 petals, surrounded by 9 turquoise pools. We were given special treatment here and a private lecture on the history of the Bahian organisation, which originated in Iran (then known as Persia) in 1844, and believe in an open worshiping system, where all faiths are welcome. There are no priests, so anyone can come and worship whoever they believe in. Basic principles are.....The oneness of mankind....independent investigation of truth....the harmony of science and religion....equality of men and women....elimination of all kinds of prejudice....universal peace. Seem like fairly reasonable goals!

Onto the bus for the long journey to Agra. Short stop at the Sikandra palace on the way there as it is lit up at night and makes for a nice photo. Home of the sultan Sikander who based his capital here. Tiring day and up early tomorrow to see the sunrise over the Taj Mahal, so bite to eat then bed.

Mon 19th Nov - Major highlight approaching! The infamous 'Taj Mahal'. The ultimate dedication of one man's love for his wife. Built by the emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial for his second wife , Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. His hair apparently turned grey overnight! He started construction of the Taj the same year and it was completed in 1653. The shame was, as mentioned earlier, that shortly after its completion he was overthrown by his son and spent the rest of his days imprisoned in Agra fort, where he stayed for the rest of his life. Bloody kids eh! He could see his creation through the window of his cell, just to rub it in! He died in 1666 and was buried next to his wife Mumtaz.

Up at 5:30am to leave for 6am to see the sun rise over the Taj Mahal. Buses stop short of the Taj and free government electric buses take you the last stretch to the main entrance. 750 rupee entrance fee, but well worth it. For one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal sure does live upto expectations. It is stunning and beyond superlatives! A misty start to the day, but as the sun rises, the monument continues to take on a different colour. Many people trying to jostle for the perfect position to get that magic shot, but everyone is patient and in awe of this place. Inside the Taj is the mausoleum where Mumtaz and the shah are interned. No photos allowed inside and fairly dark due to the lack of lighting other than a small suspended light. The Taj sits on the bank of the river, so looking towards it is completely clear with nothing in the background. This has to be one of the places that everyone should visit at least once in their life.

Back to the hotel for breakfast and then off to the Agra Fort, on the bank of the Yamuna river. Begun by emperor Akbar in 1565 as a military structure, but further extended over the years by shah Jahan who turned it into a palace, with its 2.5km perimeter. It is a maze like city, with many styles of architecture. Well worth seeing whilst in Agra, even after being blown away by seeing the Taj Mahal earlier!

After lunch a visit to 'Itimad-ud-Daulah' tomb, also known as 'The Baby Taj'. Built by the daughter of a persian nobleman and completed In 1628, this was the first Mughal structure totally built from white marble, and the first to use the pietra dura technique of inlaying as used in the Taj Mahal.

A long day and knackered again, but what a day....firmly ticked off one of the seven wonders of the world. A major highlight that I have been looking forward to for many years.

Tue 20th Nov - Time to leave Uttar Pradesh and enter Rajasthan. But first a visit to the famous fortified ghost city of 'Fatehpur Sikri', 40km to the west of Agra. This used to be the capital of the Mughal empire until 1585. Due to water shortage in the area, it was abandond.

Tags: Sightseeing


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