Monday, September 6, 2010
The Taj Mahal
The wide banks of the Yamuna River come almost right up to the site, and over in the background people will be swimming and doing their laundry. Indians will ask to take your photo with them - ladies, watch out for the Romeos who may try to grab your hand while their friend is snapping the picture. Chipmunks will run across your feet as they dash to the nearest tree. It's a fantastic experience.
The story of the Taj is well known - the king spent 22 years building it as a tomb for his wife, and it's a tribute both to the grace of Indian womanhood and to the devotion of Indian men. The marble work is inlaid with precious and semi-precious stones such as turquoise, onyx, lapis lazuli, carnelian, jet, malachite and amber. Intricate patterns of flowers, tendrils and lacy edging cover every inch of the decorative surfaces, and they are marvellous to behold.
And so it is fitting that the Taj is the last big monument I will see on my trip. I have seen so many forts, temples and palaces that I'm completely forted out. The next couple of days in Delhi will be spent unwinding, picking up my clothes from the tailor, and thinking about returning to real life.