6 am !!! The entry to the Taj Mahal, the magnificent tomb of white marble built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, who had implored her husband to build a monument symbolizing their undying love for each other. Some 20,000 laborers and artisans from around the world spent 17 years constructing what became Mumtaz's mausoleum, which was begun in 1632.
Security check: men one lane, women another.
We do not even drink the water from the faucet in the hotel, not even a 5 star one. We even brush our teeth with bottled water.
The Gateway to the Taj Mahal is a unique piece of architecture in itself and separates the gardens from the forecourt. Rising approximately 100 feet and with a width of 150 feet, this red sandstone building is of three stories, and like the tomb, is adorned with calligraphy the noblest craft of the day. The inscriptions are verses from the Koran.
The gateway is a transition point between the bustling world outside and the tranquil ambiance within the grounds of the Taj Mahal. It both protects the Taj from predators, yet invites visitors to enter the garden of Paradise. The imposing brass door is not the original which was studded with silver rupees, and was stolen by rebels in 1764.
The Arabic inscriptions appear around the south door of the gateway. The calligrapher, Amanat Khan has used an effect that involves the gradual enlarging of the letters and their spacing as they snake around the form of the arch. The result is seemingly consistent dimensions as you read the holy lettering from the ground.
Walking through the Gateway is an exhilarating experience. The Taj Mahal seems to stretch itself into view.
There it is in all its beauty!
The symbol of eternal love!
For example: what looks here like pillars with 6 sides actually is not. Look at the bottom in the next photo.
And look at the carved chain of little hearts/leaves.
This kind of work is called Pietra Dura: a decorative art in which craftsmen embed precisely cut semi-precious stones in marble to form dazzling patterns.
Early morning mist on the Yamuna River.
The Masjid Mosque on the west side of the area.
Praveen had arranged for a professional photographer to take the picture of the whole group.
I took a photo of the photo.
For once James and I also purchased a photo of the two of us in front of this marvel.
Driving to our next destination we saw a lot of washing being done and just laid out to dry in the sun by the side of the road and the river.
It was lovely. I forgot to take pictures at the right moment though.
I think the lady's name is Nidhi Lall.
We learned to make Puris (Indian Bread)
We learned to make Paneer (home made cottage cheese)
We walked out 2 times and then the price seemed right for our new sunroom table.