Saturday, February 23, 2008

India - 13 February 2008 - Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is certainly worth seeing. In our case, it took an eight hour car trip both ways to get there, but that was a nice way to get there, as we had transportation on arrival. The train is faster, but one still requires transportation on either end. The taxi we took was about the same price and gave us that transportation.

I have two abiding impressions from our visit:

1. An amazing place: actually standing on the raised platform and touching the cool marble put down nearly 400 years ago is different than seeing the pictures. Did you know, for example, that there are two identical mosques on either side of the Taj? There is a three dimensional model of the Taj on Google Earth that will give a good perspective on this. The impressive inlay of semi-precious stones in intricate designs in the marble is stunningly good.
2. Ground zero for people trying to separate your money from you: It was impressive to me (obviously: I'm writing about it) how many men were actively working to "help" us. They wanted to guide us, drive us, or help us find valuable souvenirs. It was a bit like stepping out doors and finding the mosquitos everywhere. The actual Taj grounds were a little less irritating because of the admission fee and thorough pat-down on entry, but even there we observed some impressive stunts designed to obtain baksheesh, or a tip.

Even with these petty annoyances, it's worth seeing.  That is me in the lower right corner.

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