The last leg of my India excursion was a road trip to Rajasthan. Arnab's son, sister-in-law, two nieces, and nephew as well as his nephew's son came along. They names are Jay (as you know from before), Rinku, Tumpa, Kalpana, Babu and Jai, respectively. We took two cars and drove the gloriously paved Yamuna Expressway to our first stop: Agra. Agra, as you probably know, is home to one of the 7 wonders of the modern world, the Taj Mahal. After a quick check-in at the hotel we went to a view-point where we reached the incredible monument just in time for sunset.
There is a platform in front where people with the special entry I paid for could go to take photos close up and straight on, but I didn't want to make our group wait for me and the heat was intense. Before entering the marble grounds of the Taj itself, we were required to wear paper coverings over our shoes.
The sunset itself was one of the most beautiful I've ever seen.
The following morning we got to visit the Taj. From the parking lot to the entrance we took a horse-drawn carriage.
We stopped along the way to purchase tickets and like many monuments before, the foreigner price was laughably (and shrewdly) many multiples that of the Indian national: R750 for me and R20 for Indians.
The Taj Mahal is every bit as impressive as it's reputation, although it is smaller than I had envisioned. The grounds are beautifully groomed and there were lots of people.
We hired a guide that spoke Hindi and English to tell us about the monument. We were only allowed to stay inside the packed Taj for about 3 minutes for viewing of the tomb. I am still in awe of the workmanship that went into creating this gorgeous place.
After our Taj tour came to a close we were taken to a marble shop where they demonstrated how the semiprecious stones where inlayed into the marble.
Our outing closed with a delicious meal at a nearby restaurant. Outside was a snake-charmer who worked his magic on terrified, but confident Jay.