The best in India was... the people. We couldn't understand any signs of the different castes, only evident signs of poverty in most people. All nice, simple and gentle.
Would it be the result of the old democracy?
A negative impression was left by the degradation of most beautiful historic buildings that we saw. A nice surprise expected us in the Red Fort, where Mogul's residence was carefully restored. Absolutely fabulous, but... the work was not complete, and the guide explained that the budget ended in the middle of the work.
My God! If the budget was not enough for ONE room, in ONE palace, was is going to happen to India's tresors?
The Mughal Era produced many exquisite examples of aesthetic beauty in the many monuments that were built in India.
The most perfect example of this aestheticism was achieved during the reign of Emperor Shah Jehan. He has left us with the finest example- The Taj Mahal.
Not only is the architecture and gardens sublime- the decorative work on the facade of the monument will forever capture the beauty and craftmanship that Shah Jehan demanded when the monument was designed. Shah Jehan oversaw the building of the Taj, and employed craftsmen from Persia, Afganistan and Turkey for many of the exquisite Pietra Dura work.
The technique of PIETRA DURA
Originating from Florence, this technique was imported into India during the reign of Emperor Jahangir (father of Shah Jehan) in the 17th century.
The technique involved complex setting of precious and semi-precious stones, such as Lapus lazuli, Carnelian, Turqouiseand Malachite.The stones were broken into slivers, and set into the marble base. Floral motifs (lilies,poppies,tulips and narcissus) were depicted as sprays, in arabesque patterns. The almost 3 dimensional appearance of the designs were created by using stones with varying degrees of colour. Black slate was also widely used.
Fine examples can be seen in the arched doorways and on outer walls of the Taj.
The colour is still glorious, and the Indian government has imposed strict rules regarding pollution in order to prevent further damage.
Fondest memory: Everyone has seen photographs of the Taj Mahal.
It is one of the most recognisable monuments in the world.
But gazing upon it for the first time is an experience that can never be forgotten.
There is an 'aura' around this monument to love that is palpable.
My most wonderful experience in India was with the people. Very simple, warm, genuine and proud of their heritage.
Always make time. Shopping may involve a chat with the owner over a warm cup of chai. I took a rickshaw ride (destination: wherever) to check the local sites and discovered a priceless find-PIZZA HUT!
One word that is not for Agra is rush.
Fondest memory: Exchanging cultural stories with local villagers in pitch dark.
We didn't realise that the Taj Mahal trip included a complementary photo from our tour guide. Consequently we toddled along in our day trekking about wear and probably ruined the group photo - sorry fellow Golden trianglers.
I still like our couple photo though - very romantic. xxx
Fondest memory: Agra is a city with 1,7 mill. inhabitants, but the roads are narrow with pedestrian, rickshaws, bicycles and cows. Expect some slow traffic, especially around the tourists spots like Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.
Fondest memory: The quiet river Yamuna flows through Agra and behind Taj Mahal. Yamuna is the largest tributary river of the Ganges river. The riverbank of Taj Mahal is fenced to prevent people sneaking into Taj Mahal, where you have to pay 750 Rupies to get in.
Despite what the guidebooks may say, since the gates to the Taj Mahal open from dawn to dusk, the times are not fixed. Our LP book said that the south gate would be open at 6am, but in Feb 2009, the east and west gates opened at 7am (with ticket office open at 6:30) and the south gate opened at 8am. It's always best to check locally rather than trusting the guidebooks implicitly (it would have saved us a 5:30am alarm!).
That said, if you want to be there for dawn, bear in mind that tour groups start queuing early. Very early.
My Favorite is in Agra ....Of course The Taj Mahal..........the white wonder is only attraction there.
Fondest memory: i can't forget my 6 hours which i spend with Taj ...........No words to explain it...........one has to go & get the taste by himself.
Carved Relief Panels
These panels, which depict flowers, birds, vines and foliage, were carved into the pristine white marble facade of the Taj Mahal , and highlight the colours of the Petra Dura floral motifs.
The domination of floral patterns and motifs is said to symbolize the theme of Paradise in Mughal art forms.
Black marble calligraphy was used as another method of ornamentation. There are detailed inscriptions with Koranic verses. The recessed archways at the Taj Mahal show beautiful examples of this calligraphy, and the Pietra Dura surrounding it.
The size of the calligraphy increases as the arches reach higher- thereby giving an optical illusion of uniformity.
Sometime on the Delhi-Agra highway, you may encounter huge herd of cows blocking the road. This was what happened to me on the way from Agra back to Delhi, but it was OK and I managed to take some photos of this interesting encounter.
In India, the cow is a sacred animal in Hinduism, which is why they are allowed to freely roam around the country (even on the roads).
Favorite thing: When I was at Taj Mahal in January 2008, I saw a lot of birds especially at the water landscape area in-front of the tomb. The birds seem to be egrets as they are white in colour, and rather tall and big (see photos).
Favorite thing: When I was at the Taj Mahal, I saw some local people working to perserve the monuments which is a good thing. Overall, India has lots of historical monuments and it will be a great challenge perserving them properly, especially against erosion and forces of nature. Hopefully they can be done, because the monuments in India are very grand and beautiful in general.
Favorite thing: Other than the interesting transportation, the noise level on the roads is also something to experience. Vehicles use their horns on a very regular basis and the whole scene is very noisy. Furthermore, traffic is chaotic and speeding is very common (and scary as well). Here are more photos of the various transportations in Agra :)
India is a land of many interesting transportation, and Agra is no exception. During the road trip from Delhi to Agra, and Agra itself, you will witness the many forms of transporations, namely:
- Auto-rickshaws (plenty of them around picking up passengers).
- Cars and taxis (mostly small cars which are very popular in India)
- Motorcycles and bicycles (these are everywhere)
- Colourful trucks (the trucks in India are full of colours and designs)
- Cows (yes, you will see cows wandering on the road)
Please go to part 2 of this tip for more photos.