We woke up at the crack of dawn to head to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. We had originally planned on taking the train (Darjeeling Ltd anyone?) but unfortunately, without possessing an Indian phone number, it was quite impossible to buy tickets. Dave was a trooper but didn't seem too happy to be up that early either.
Our first day together, Dave seemed pretty quiet. About an hour outside of Delhi, we figured out that he did indeed like to talk...about his religion. Dave is Sikh. It was a rather interesting conversation. He wasn't trying to convert us, he just seemed like he wanted us to be educated. He told us how Sikhism is similar and at the same time quite different from Hinduism. He also told us the stories of all of his gods and how he also believed in the Hindu gods. His story came to a climax when he pulled off the road so we could see a shrine. It was quite a large shrine for being in the middle of nowhere!
Almost five hours after our departure, we arrived in Agra and went straight to the ticket booth for the Taj Mahal. Again, we paid an outrageous ticket price but were pleasantly surprised when the transportation from the ticket office to the entrance was free! We paused for a cup of coffee before heading to the compound. There was a separate security line for men and women because despite walking through a metal detector, everyone was patted down, which seems to be a trend in Asia.
The Taj Mahal is as magnificent in person as it looks in the photos. After walking through the courtyard, this is the first view you get:
Of course the sheer size, as well as the ammount of white marble is incredible but what astounded me was the symmetry of the entire compound. From the gardens right down to the inner room, everything mirrors its counterpart. The interesting thing, was that the Taj was designed for his deceased wife. When he died, it was decided that he should be burried with her, however, the construction had not accounted for a second casket during construction. In the inner room, the wife's casket lies right at the center, under the dome, while her husband lies to the left, asymmetrically.