Our car and driver met us at the Bonlon Inn in Delhi at 6:45 this morning for the trip to Agra. We took a new freeway that had a lot less traffic and was a very nice, smooth road. When we got to the outskirts of Agra, we stopped for a breakfast of fresh aloo (potato) parathas and chai. The parathas were hot and delicious:
Once we got into Agra, the traffic got really bad because of a Muslim holiday happening today. We finally got to our hotel, the beautiful ITC Mughal, checked in, freshened up, then headed right back out to the Taj Mahal. This was my fourth visit to the Taj, and it never gets old. Each time, the beauty of it is truly breathtaking. I have far too many pictures from today, so it’s going to be hard choosing which ones to share here. We had an excellent guide, Soni, who took us to many different vantage points and gave us a great history lesson
At some point, I’ll try to post a photo journal online of the trip, since I have a lot of great photos that haven’t made it into the blog.
After the Taj, we stopped for a late lunch/early dinner. The paneer tikka was beautifully presented:
Then we went back to the hotel, ditched Soni, and went to a marble factory and shop with our driver, Mr. Y. We ended up being unable to resist a (very small) marble inlaid tabletop.
We were able to resist, however, the following elephant, which was $150,000 (USD!):
We got a nice explanation of the process of making the inlaid marble – it’s still done the same way today as it was in the time of the Taj. A tabletop like the one we got takes about 45 days to make! Each piece of inlay has to be cut and fitted by hand, and the marble has to be carved out to receive the inlays.
After the shop, we came back to the hotel to rest up. We decided against touring the Agra Red Fort, and I’m really glad we had more time to enjoy the Taj and then relax here at the hotel. Dad, Domingos, and I had a drink in the hotel bar, and now I’m just catching up on the blog, reading, and planning an early night for some prime sleep! Tomorrow we’re leaving at 10:00 for Fatehpur Sikri and then Bharatpur. I won’t be able to post this until tomorrow since the ITC way overcharges for Internet! 🙂