Sunday, May 20

Today we were off to the Taj Mahal. After an early wakeup call, we boarded the bus and made our way to the train station. For such early hours, the station was extremely busy as everyone was either coming into or out of the city. After a comfortable two-hour ride to Agra, we met our contact for a bus ride to the Taj Mahal.  Our tour guide immediately began a history lesson of India’s earliest days, culminating with India’s colonization by Britain and recent independence.

On the way to the Taj Mahal, we learned that the Indian government was proactive in limiting pollution around the monument. All factories were removed from the area and vehicles in the immediate proximity are required to be electric powered. In fact, once we stopped at the entry point, we took an electric van to the entrance.

The Taj was magnificent. To learn about an ancient marvel is one thing, but to actually see it is quite another. Our first impulse was to take as many pictures as possible. Much like “supporting” the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a popular photo trick was to “hold” the Taj Mahal from above.

We made our way to the entrance and took off our shoes to enter the marble dome. Walking inside was an unbelievable experience. There laid the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan’s wife who had died during the birth of their 14th child. 

As we exited Indian family after family asked to have their photos taken with the girls. 

After the Taj Mahal, we visited the Red Fort. Built by Shah Jahan in the 17th century, it served to serve as the seat of power of Mughal Emperors. A formidable fortress, it was only ever captured with the help of internal turncoats. Famously, it was also where Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son due to the elaborate spending on the Taj Mahal. 

For lunch and we had our next round of classic Indian food. After some debate over what we should order, we settled on the Chicken Tikka, a choice we returned later in  the trip. 

The train trip back to New Delhi was turned out to be the biggest culturel shock of the tour. Fully expecting seats like we had earlier in the day, we were extremely surprised when our tickets were for a sleeper train. Three hours later, we all agreed that we had just been subject to experiential learning.

By this time, it was already evening and we traveled back to the hotel. After a long day, we all enjoyed a relaxing evening to ready us for the next day.

~Andrew Reese
7/27/2012 05:13:27 pm

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8/10/2012 12:34:54 pm

The Mahal was's very nice place.Thank you for sharing..............


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    All of the participants in the study abroad tour will be blogging about the tour before, throughout and after they return.


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