As a small disclaimer I need to mention that at this point countries and temples are blurring together and so I might mix up my historic sites in my
In the days before we arrived in
I spent my first day in Chennai with several friends. My trip to the Taj Mahal was not leaving until the afternoon and so I went into town with my friends Jill and Caroline. We had our first experience of rickshaw scamming when we were told that the place we wished to go was closed. Instead we were taken to a small luxury goods store that none of us could afford. We browsed, bought a few things, and finally demanded that our driver take us to the place we originally wanted to go. Well our destination was a bookstore that had two locations in Chennai. Naturally he took us to the wrong one that happened to be more difficult to get to. When we finally arrived at the right store, Jill and I had to head back to the ship and prepare for our next adventure.
That night I flew with 40 students to
We woke up extremely early in the morning to take a train to
That afternoon my group visited the ancient city of
Finally it was the day that I was the most excited for. I had a chance to visit the Taj Mahal! It was one of those things that I had been excited to see since I was extremely young. Just last year it was decided by the Indian government that the Taj will be closing to the public in the near future so that preservation work on the monument can begin. The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum that was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan over the course of twenty years from 1632-1653. The Taj was a tribute of love to Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal. The Wikipedia summary of the story goes like this: “In her dying breath, Mumtaz Mahal urged Shah Jahan to build a mausoleum for her that the world has never seen before. Shah Jahan granted his wife's wish, and construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632, one year after her death. The court chronicles of Shah Jahan's grief illustrate the love story traditionally held as an inspiration for Taj Mahal”. My first site of the Taj was stunning. It was like the mausoleum glowed in the sunlight. We were given under two hours to wander through the gardens and see the sights. I cannot really find the words to describe walking through the area surrounding the Taj Mahal and taking the usual tourist photos. Despite the extreme pollution just a mile away, the gardens were beautiful and the fountains were clean. I only spent about five minutes inside the actual mausoleum before deciding that the outside was much more spectacular. Finally it was time to leave and move on to the next place, but someday I will go back and spend an entire day wandering around the grounds of the Taj Mahal.
Later that day my group went to the Agra Fort where Shah Jahan was kept under house arrest by his oldest son. Considering how beautiful the Fort was, I can’t imagine that house arrest would be that terrible an experience. From the Agra Fort there is a beautiful view of the Taj Mahal and the surrounding pollution of
That afternoon the amazing day was completed with a trip to the Mother Teresa Orphanage in
This is the end to my