India – Taj Mahal

When we started planning our trip to India and found out that we would have a weekend in Delhi, we started discussing what type of “cultural” activity we wanted to do on our day off.  As first time travelers to India, there was really only one option.  Since we were, approximately, a three hour drive from the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world, how could we not plan to visit?

The Taj Mahal was all that it was built up to be.  The complex took 20,000 craftsmen 22 years to complete and was finished in 1653.  The walls  are composed of marble, sandstone and inlays of yellow marble, jasper and jade which was polished and leveled to the surface of the walls.  The inlays are very intricate and detailed.  It is hard to imagine how the stones were cut, polished, arranged and affixed using technology and tools of the period.  The craftsmanship rivals anything that I have seen before.

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Side view of the gate to enter the Taj Mahal.

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This was our guide and several others in our group. Having a local guide was a great idea. He helped get us around the crowds and through security and was very knowledgable about the history of the Taj. He was a history major from one of the local colleges.

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Front view of the entrance to the Taj Mahal. Notice how everything is very symmetrical. You can’t see it in this photo, but there are inscriptions of passages from the Koran on the side of the building

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View of the Taj Mahal from the entry gate.

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The Taj Mahal, including the reflecting pool in the foreground. The four spires on the sides were in the process of being cleaned. You can see the one on the back right has been completed. Interesting fact:  the spires actually lean away from the building by design. If there was ever an earthquake or some other reason for them to fall they would fall away from the building.

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Evidently everyone that visits the Taj Mahal is allowed to hold it up for a short time. I took my turn but could only hold it for a very short time due to the weight.

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I would love to say that this was my original ideal, but my guide set this up and used my camera to capture the photo. I am pretty sure that this wasn’t his first tour.

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On our ride back to the hotel, a long golf cart picked us up.  This enterprising young man decided it would be a good idea to hitch a ride by hanging on to the back.

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The descendants of the artisans that did the inlay work inside the Taj Mahal still carry on the tradition in a local shop. The detail is amazing and truly something to see. One flower that may be a couple of inches may have more than 30 individual pieces of gems.

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