Sunday, April 10, 2011

Agra

The Taj Mahal is one of those places that you always dream of going to, but it kind of just seems like exactly that – a dream. To travel to the other side of the world and see one of the most famous architectural masterpieces in the world was unreal. Looking at these photos, I can’t believe that we were actually there. It lived up to every ounce of the hype.

We left Jaipur (click here to read that post if you haven’t already) the night before and drove 4 hours or so to Agra so we could be there to see the Taj Mahal first thing in the morning. That drive was one of the craziest of my life (I think Julie, Noah, and Kristi would back me up on that). We were all pretty sleepy after a packed day in Jaipur. Raj, (our driver) was just flying along. I’d be asleep one minute, and jarred awake by a quick turn. I’d stay awake for long enough to see us swerve around a cow in the middle of the road, or see a car coming straight at us even though it was a one way street, or look over and see us pass a rickshaw full of people, or a truck with 20 people riding in the back. Keep in mind this was all at like 11pm too. I go back to my point, India is crazy (in a very amazing way).

Anyway, we got to the Taj Mahal early the next morning. We had an awesome guide Nitin – Charity recommended him and he was awesome. He knew his stuff and we were in good hands. He described the Taj as a palace floating in the clouds. That is what it was – this mystical masterpiece of architecture that almost seems like it is fake.

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Getting ready to go inside the walls surrounding the Taj.

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The first site. Everything about this was planned perfectly, starting from the way that you see it for the first time. Because of the sunlight when you first get inside this gateway – you can’t see anything, everything was just kind of white – then after a few steps forward, suddenly the Taj Mahal just appears….bam!

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Had to do one of these shots. It wasn’t even that heavy.

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Noah and Kristi were having trouble with this picture…I mean, they weren’t even close to holding it the right way.

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Just a couple glamour shots. This was one of Nitin’s masterpiece shots.

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We put on some of these nice little booties and headed up onto the main grounds where the Taj stands.

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The entire thing made out of the hardest marble there is…completely non porous. The carvings were all still perfect as though they were carved yesterday.

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The light reflecting off of the Taj made it SO bright. Here are Julie and Kristi doing their best to open their eyes, with the beautiful courtyard behind them.

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Black Jasper is inlaid into the marble displaying verses from the Koran. They were strategically sized to make them all look the same size to the viewer below. The inside of the Taj was beautiful in its own light, mostly because of the inlaid semi-precious stones all over the walls…some of them that essentially glow when touched with light. No photos allowed in there though. The guards made sure to blow their whistles non-stop to make sure no one took photos – kind of ruined the moment a little.

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On both sides of the Taj are huge identical buildings. On one side is a mosque, and on the other side is an identical building with no real purpose other than to maintain perfect symmetry. We made use of it by some sweet silhouette jumping photos.

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I know this doesn’t show off the perfect symmetry, but this was my favorite vantage point of the Taj. You can get a sense of the grandeur by looking at how tiny the people are up there.

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I’m not sure what, or who these guys were, but I snuck some photos of them. I wish I would have tried to talk to them.

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Have I mentioned how awesome it was that we got to go on this trip with Noah and Kristi? They made it SO fun and memorable. I laughed more in that week that I have in quite a while.

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Love it. Here we are utilizing the sweet remote for my camera that Shawni gave us for Christmas.

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See what I mean when I say that these guys are awesome.

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Here is when Julie became a rock star. Everyone was amazed by her blond hair. We were sitting there gazing at the Taj when these guys came up and started requesting photos with Julie and Kristi. One by one, they took their pictures. At one point they handed their baby to Julie and told her to kiss the baby for the photo. It was awesome.

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This dude really loved his wife. I want to meet the architects in heaven some day. These two photos – above and below, give a bit of an idea of how the color of the Taj changes as the light changes.

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Perfect.

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We wandered around for a couple of hours just soaking it in, then we headed to Agra Fort.

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Monkeys seemed to have taken over this place.

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While not in quite as good of shape as Amber Fort that we saw in Jaipur – the architecture at Agra Fort was slightly different, and amazing.

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Noah, with a little burst of the spirit of Aloha.

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The courtyard of where the ruler lived. I didn’t take a photo, but surrounding this courtyard are rooms where the hundreds of his concubines lived. Again, these rulers had some interesting lifestyles.

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View of the Taj from Agra Fort.

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View across the river (via telephoto) of people out doing their laundry. Wish we could have gotten a bit closer to this.

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Another photo request. They made sure Julie would put her arm around them for the photo.

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Look at the detail!

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Weird ruler point #2. This huge thing was the ruler’s bathtub. He made his people bring it with them when he would travel.

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These were my favorite arches in India. So beautiful.

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Hey look, there’s a beautiful girl in the beautiful architecture.

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Another photo request.

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The streets of Agra. Cows just do what they want in India. I wonder what that would be like here in DC.

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We stopped by a place where they showed us how they inlay the semiprecious stone into marble. The patience it takes to do that is amazing. They told us about the hours and hours it takes for a small plate or whatever. Then you think of the Taj Mahal again – and wow – the amount of time and patience it must have taken to create that masterpiece. I guess that is why 20,000 people go to see it every day. Agra was amazing.

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We finished off our time there with some food (the infamous spot where we all contracted “Delhi Belly” as they called it). Wish we could do that restaurant trip over again.

We drove off into the night to our awesome 2 star hotel in Delhi that we thought was supposed to be a 5 star. That was interesting. Pictures of that coming up next. Don’t forget to keep reading on to see the photos from Jaipur below.

Happy Sabbath!

3 comments:

Jonah and Aja said...

you are crazy funnny and really a stunner of a photographer. the remote jumping shot amazed me. i wish we could have been there with you. rock on. cozumel soon!

Eyrealm said...

Okay Eli, I think you better open a photography shop or something. I have been genuinely excited to see these pictures and boy you just don't disappoint! These are absolutely fabulous! You could put just these two posts in a book and it would sell like hotcakes! What amazing shots! What amazing people. Isn't it funny that they were as amazed to see you and you were to see them!

The jumping photos made me LOL. The "holding the Taj" picture is amazing! Every one is a prizewinner! Send me the name of this guide too. I think this is a different one but maybe I'm just confused.

That took a while! Thanks for sharing and for your amazing eye!

seaglassmama said...

Loved the photos and the walk down memory lane. I had to laugh to see the novelty of American females posing in random strangers photographs continues. We also got Delhi belly in Agra. Thanks for posting!
Kirstin