The Taj Mahal in Agra

The drive from Delhi to Agra is about 100 miles, but takes more than four hours though traffic. The roadside sights, leaving Delhi are different from those I have seen anywhere else. All aspects of human life are conducted within feet of the roadway, as if it were one great big living room. Barber chairs were set in the shade, carrying out shaves and haircuts with hand held mirrors. People slept, read, and brushed their teeth on chairs and beds set a few feet from the roadside. They lathered up for bathing with a bar of soap and a bucket. The housing made the townships of South Africa look like modern suburbs, in comparison. Lucky ones had a cloth sun shade or piece of plastic tarp to make a roof. There were no walls. It is hard to say how much Boy noticed, or took in, but there was certainly plenty to see.

At Agra, our accommodation was a fancy hotel with a pool and a kids club. This made it a bit challenging to get Boy to leave for our afternoon viewing of the Taj Mahal and Red fort, though we did manage to drag him away, eventually.

At the Taj Mahal, thousands of people gathered in the gardens to take photos. The building is indeed more beautiful and impressive in person than it ever appears in photos. We enjoyed the fountains, gardens, and building immensely, though Boy was a bit bothered by all the people wanting photos with him, and his light colored hair. In addition to the outside viewing, it is possible to see the inside of the building. The line stretched all the way around the base to enter the inner area of the building, far longer than even the queue we joined outside the Sagrada Familia cathedral, in Europe. Our guide purchased foreigner tickets for us (at the foreigner price, of course), that allowed us to skip the line to enter the building. The inside of the Taj Mahal is home to an elaborate tomb, with beautiful gemstones in the walls. The inside is quite small, and while they limit the number of people inside at a time, that number is way more than we found comfortable. The guide, Dad, and I made a wall around Boy, so he would not be crushed in the press of the crowd. Afterwards, we decided that viewing the exterior from the gardens was well worth the entrance, but in the future, we would skip the interior viewing.

Returning to the hotel in the evening, we took Boy back to the kids club, where he was invited to join a birthday party for a six year old girl, visiting from Delhi, with her family. There were about six children at the hotel, and all were invited to join the celebration, with cake and Bollywood dancing. Afterwards, the hotel had a puppet show and magic show in the garden. This cheered Boy tremendously, after his tiresome adventure at the Taj Mahal.

A puppet show

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