Agra: November 3

Today started very early.  We got to the Taj Mahal around 5:40 am and were very close to the beginning of the line.  There are actually four separate lines: the foreign tourists go in the “high value” (meaning we have to pay much, much more) and the Indians go in the “general” lines; there are separate lines for men and women.  We were allowed in around 6:30.  Considering that many thousands of people visit the Taj Mahal each day, it never really felt crowded.  Nothing is for sale within the site which is quite nice as no one really bothers you.  It was interesting to see that there are hooks on the Taj Mahal to allow for cleaning; these were, of course, add many years after its construction.  I was also surprised at how much smaller the Taj Mahal is on the inside than it appears on the outside.  I kind of went to the Taj Mahal expecting it not be that great as it is so hyped but I ended up really enjoying my visit.

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Me in front of the Taj Mahal.

In the afternoon, it was off to the Red Fort.  It was quite nice and the “prison” part certainly didn’t seem like a prison at all!  Unfortunately, it was so much more crowded there than the Taj Mahal, probably because site had a lot more relatively confined spaces.  Quite a few of the tourists were Indians and many of them again wanted pictures with the foreigners.

I also saw my first cows hanging out in traffic today!

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A couple of cows relaxing on a street.

We also visited a marble inlay “factory;” I think it was much too small-scale to be called a factory.  Anyway, the process looks like so much (really boring and precise) work.  It was interesting and they had some really beautiful items but I’m way too cheap to actually purchase anything there.

Next, we visited the Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah. It is often called the Baby Taj because it looks a bit like the Taj Mahal but it is much smaller. It was also very nice and fairly quiet but it only took a few minutes to see the whole place.  I think visiting it before visiting the Taj Mahal would probably have been better.

After that it was time to see the Taj Mahal from the other side of the river just before sunset.  It looked very busy at the Taj Mahal at that time and I was happy that I was where I was!

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