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Agra was only about 2 hours from our Hotel. We would be leaving the region of Rajasthan and entering Uttar Pradesh. There isn't a whole lot to do in Agra and there was another amazing Fort and Mosque along the way so we opted for private cars so we could stop and check them out.
First Fatehpur Sikri

The city was founded in 1569 by the Mughal emperor Akbar, and served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585.

Influences from Hindu and Jain architecture are seen hand in hand with Islamic elements.

Next was Jama Masjid: It is a Jama Mosque meaning the congregational mosque, (A.D. 1571-72) as the date of its completion, with a massive entrance to the courtyard. It was the end of Ramadan so there were actually a lot of people selling things in the Mosque that are usually not there.
The Buland-Darwaza added some five years later.
Tomb of Salim Chishti: A white marble encased tomb of the Sufi saint, Salim Chisti (1478–1572), within the Jama Masjid's sahn, courtyard.

You can make a wish and tie a piece of string on the window. We just observed.

After the site seeing we walked into the small nearby town and had an amazing lunch of Thali which is where they serve you small portions of many things.
Then it was back to the hotel to relax and freshen up.
That night was Monika's Birthday so we went out to a nice restaurant and had cake.
Unfortunately it was also this major Hindu festival for the Monsoon. For four weeks every Monday the men walk barefoot to holy places. However this was the one night where a lot of them get drunk or smoke marijuana. We were up on the roof top of the restaurant and all you could see were men mostly younger ones walking the streets in huge groups. The place next door to the restaurant was blasting music and people were dancing and getting free food and water.

When it came time to leave it was probably the most scariest moments on this trip. Monty had two other friends of his join us and made all the women stand inside all the men in our group as we started out. I just kept my head down the entire time and avoided any kind of eye contact. I could hear boys shouting at us and I just kept walking quickly. It was the worst feeling ever maybe even more so as a western women. I never felt so small and vulnerable. Luckily it was only happening on the one main road and as soon as we crossed we were all fine. Thom who had his head up said later that yes they called out at us but no one really tried anything. Home at last it was an early night as we were meeting at 5:00a.m. to be first for the Taj Mahal.

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage".
Taj Mahal is regarded by many as the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles.

In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar component of the Taj Mahal, it is actually an integrated complex of structures. The construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen. The construction of the Taj Mahal was entrusted to a board of architects under imperial supervision, including Abd ul-Karim Ma'mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer.

Later that day Monty arranged for people to go to the Agra Fort, but Thom and I were tired and really just wanted to relax and get organized because we had another overnight train to catch that night.

Posted by Kelly Rose 10:23 Archived in India

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Where but in India can you taste the sun and reach the heights of the Taj Mahal? You two are truly in your element these days. 'Tis wonderful to see you so much enjoying your journey, to refreshingly relay all detail of it for us to embrace, and know that all is well in this world of ours. God has blessed. Continue to treasure the moments. Many thanks for sharing your joys. Love, Mom and Dad

by Mom and Dad

Hi Guys, Love to read about you travels! Are those real goats on the steps of the Buland-Darwaza? Visited Kitties on Saturday... They are doing great:) lOve ya, juls

by Julia

Yes Julia, everyone talks about the cows in India but there are actually all kinds of animals in the street pigs, goats, dogs. Sometimes you see horses and camels pulling carts too. And monkeys here and there picking through scraps or on top of buildings munching on something.

by Kelly Rose

Fifty-seven years ago I was in Heaven with one of God's newest creations beside me! I find myself still in Heaven while that creation enjoys all of India with his new found creation beside him. Looking forward to visiting with you upon your return home, one year older and ages more intelligent. Guess you have been 57 for nearly half a day already, but I still wanted to wish you a very Happy Birthday Thom. Love you dearly. Mom (and Dad too of course) Celebrate the moment!!

by Mom and Dad

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