Sunday, June 6, 2010

Taj Mahal

{Days 2 & 3}
Saturday morning we woke up at the crack of dawn again to be at the bus by 5:15. First off on the schedule? Oh, just the Taj Mahal~
It was so so dusty when we first got there we couldn't even really see the sky cus it was all blowing around.
We beat much of the crowds though and had fun taking tons of photos.
We were told a brief history of its creation, but like most other tours here, I'm lucky if I catch half of it because sometimes the accents are so thick. I did manage to pick out that there are four entrances to the outer courtyard area. The East and West gates are open with hours coordinating with the rising and setting of the sun. And the North and South gates are fixed times. We entered through the East gates, then out the North gates where the Taj Mahal is then directly in front of you.
One neat thing about the decorations inside were the flowers. The orange flowers were made up of like 20 individual stones that glow in the moonlight. Our guide held a flashlight directly over it so the light went into the stones and lit them up as he moved the light across them, as if it was touch sensitive and only the individual petal the flashlight was directly on would light up like a lightbulb. (Photos weren't allowed.)
Second most sacred river in India.
We also had fun walking through the mosques. There are two exact copies of the same building, one to the East and one to the West of the Taj Mahal. The T.M took 22 years to build and all the workers would leave 5 times a day to go and pray. So, they had these mosques built on site so they could cut down on the time the workers were away from work. However, only the West one is ever used because it faces East.
After we finished playing around, we still had a full day ahead of us and it was only 8:30 A.M! We went back to the hotel for a nice breakfast, then off to shop. While out, we managed to randomly find chances to sit on a camel and ride an elephant. Such strange things to do just on a whim, but that's India! We had fun buying shoes for 5 dollars, getting henna done on the street, and eating McDonald's soft serve Sundaes.
We were here for the Elephants, and they were here for us. We were their entertainment!

We got to visit two cool handwork factories. The first was a marble factory where we learned a little how stones are shaped and inlayed in marble. I couldn't stop thinking how much my grandpa would love to see it because he does beautiful stained glass work and could appreciate the colors and creative work.
Next was a carpet/silk factory. There were large looms and walls piled with yarn. They let us tie a piece of yarn on the loom with the guidance of the artist and only one other person besides myself wanted to. I was so surprised. It was very intricate and repetitive and one rug takes 6 months! We got to see how the patterns are designed, painted, then carried through the creation process. So many tedious processes all done by hand! I'll forever appreciate rugs.
One member of our group actually bought a carpet and a marble table, so because of her we got to see lots of designs when they brought them all out to show her. Got to walk on them and feel how soft the silk rugs are. Fancy. We had fun looking through all the fancy silks; a lot of us buying a scarf or something. India is such a country of fabrics and colors. I love it! We also went to a store with all these spices and it was killer to the nose.
Headed back to the hotel for journal writing, then sitting glued to the TV laughing at the awesome Indian music videos and all the dancing. Then dinner. We always try to get new things, but tend to fill up on naan and parota (bread-like tortilla food?) It's not hard to order something new cus the menu's don't offer much guidance. It'll say "Shalai Tal Fuman. The name says it all! A classic favorite" and it's like 'Ok, that helped how?' So, I went to bed with a stomach full of buttery naan and happy to get 8 whole hours of sleep.

We found our church! I loved that the sign says,
"The Indian Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."
Unfortunately, I didn't have anything but my chuddidar to wear, but it was actually probably one of the most comfortable things I've ever worn to church. It was neat to feel the similarity of the Church wherever you go, while also appreciating the beautiful differences of dress.
Then, just another travel day! Seven hours on a bus and three hours on a plane. Crazy how fast and yet how slow it has all been. It was a whirlwind of a weekend. But, it gave us a flavor of walking in and around a foreign city and appreciating the little details you can't see from a bus or working on campus or in a leper colony.


  1. You do such a great job at taking us along for the ride with you! Felt almost like I was entering the main walk to the Taj Mahal myself. Such cute group photos and interesting shots of the various colors, patterns, vendors, and displays! Adore that photo of you in front of the Church sign. We need to put together a wall framing of all of those we have from Italy, to Holland, to France, to.......!!! Wouldn't that be cool?

  2. WOW is all I can say, that is such a beatiful place and I can't imagine anything mor fun for you than that kind of shoe shopping!

  3. I love all your doorway and archway shots--I am pricked with curiosity and I'm a little impatient that I can't walk right through to see what's on the other side.

  4. COOL that you've actually been to the Taj Mahal!!! That is awesome! And I can just see your face when you saw all of those amazing fabrics! You are having the experience of a lifetime!