The Taj Mahal has been described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love.
It was built over 22 years for the wife of the Emperor Shah Jahan after she died giving birth to their fourteenth child in 1631.
We found out that originally two buildings were commissioned but the black marble building was never built. Also legend says that the 20,000 workers who built it had their thumbs cut off when it was done so they could never build another.
I woke up at 6.30 feeling really excited, the Taj entrance is a two minute walk from where we are staying. The security at the gate is very strict and we are searched and patted down before being allowed to go through.
Sunrise is the best time to visit the Taj as the light reflects off the white marble, the building glows first golden, then pink and then blue. The visitor numbers are also less as many people visit the Taj in the evening on day trips from Delhi.
There is a huge red sandstone gateway and once you pass through this you see the Taj properly for the first time. It is absolutely beautiful and while I can’t describe it in any way that would do it justice, many people have tried to sum up its beauty calling it a “teardrop on the face of eternity” and “the embodiment of all things pure”.
We take lots of photographs from all angles; the fountains are turned off so the reflection in the water in front is not spoiled. Simon lies on the floor and gets some great shots but when looking back through our pictures later we all agree Alister actually snapped the best picture!
We are allowed to walk onto the mausoleum itself and go inside to view the tomb but not allowed to take photos inside. The marble in here is carved very intricately with flowers and inlaid with semi-precious stones and someone shows us with a torch how the moonlight shines through the translucent soft marble.
As I sit on a bench in front of this wonder of the world built for love, I think of all the people at home who I love and although Maisie gets a little bit tearful when she sees someone who reminds her of Nana Judy we all end up laughing when Simon points out a large American tourists elaborate hairdo that is an equally impressive feat of engineering and would I’m sure, also stand the test of time.
Following breakfast at the hotel Kamal, Simon spends 2 hours teaching the kids science, Ali learns about the states of matter and Maisie learns about the Earth, Sun and Moon. I hope they will at least have kept up with their classmates when we go home, preferably ahead in some things.
In the afternoon we go to Agra Fort, we learn that following the building of the Taj Mahal the Emperor Shah Jahan was imprisoned here for 8 years by his son, who didn’t want him to blast anymore of his inheritance on building another black Taj.
It is also very beautiful but by the middle of the afternoon we are all monumented out and catch a pony and trap back to the hotel where the kids watch Shrek 2 on the telly and we sit down to plan our route over the next 11 days through Rajasthan.
I will be sorry to leave here. At 6 pound 50p per room per night it is a bit more expensive than what we have been paying but hey I guess you have to splash out a bit every now and again and for the last few days experience here, I reckon it’s been worth every penny and then some.
We thought the kids were feeling a bit fed up tonight and asked them if they wanted to go to an expensive hotel for dinner. They said they didn’t but we headed off to a restaurant serving continental food. After ordering their meals we were told that continental food was off the menu tonight!
So on the way back we called in at McDonalds for McFlurries , I was recently laughing at my friend for feeding their son McDonalds for breakfast- how bad are we !!