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Lots of people talk about the Taj Mahal being on their bucket list.  I didn’t think of it as  reason to go to India, just a nice thing to do while here.  But then, I saw it!

Okay, so you can’t see it yet.  But after walking  3 miles (all streets were closed to traffic for Agra marathon), seeing this sunrise on the grounds was quite inspiring.

The main gate. It was hazy, my photos will never equal the pros but maybe you can experience a little of what I saw.

 

A view from the side. Can you see the beautiful marble? The Taj was built by Akbar, the third Mughal emperor or India as a mausoleum for his beloved wife. He hired artisans from all over the world and it took 20,000 men 28 years to build. It has a complicated infrastructure which makes it probably one of the first earthquake resistant buildings. The marble is incised and decorated with semi precious stones. This technique was imported from Persia and is still practiced in Agra today. Before the Taj, most buildings were sandstone.

This close up of one small piece of decoration has jasper, carnelian, fossilized stone and one I forget.  The marble was incised, the pieces of stone were cut to fit the incision and then pasted in.  The marble which is much harder than Italian marble, is still translucent and shimmers in the light.  The carnelian used is also translucent and adds a red glow.

Made me speechless from every angle. Tomorrow we go to see the 10th century temples of Khajuraho; some of which feature erotic motifs. Happy V day!

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In this small town in the middle of nowhere, is a fort and palace dating back to the 17th century.

The fort was built by the Mughals starting in the 15th century.

The palace inside the fort was a marvel of architecture. Being in such a remote place it is in private hands and part of it has been restored and made into a hotel.

This tile design is original with no restoration needed. There’s a bath in the women’s quarters that had hot and cold running water in the 16th century when we, in America were living in log cabins!

The more than Olympic size pool with an architectural folly in the middle for resting.

An architectural gem in the middle of nowhere!

In this remote kingdom internet access is iffy.  It’s been a few days and with everything Ive done and seen I could probably write 5 or 6 posts.  However, I will just try one as the connection is painfully slow.

Bhutan is slowly joining the rest of the world.   They got cellphones in 2004 and the internet shortly thereafter.  All Bhutanese are required to wear traditional dress at work and when interfacing with the government.  Men wear the gho and women wear kira.  All buildings are limited to 5 stories and must include Bhutanese designs and painting.  Here’s some pics of typical designs:

One of the eight auspicious/lucky signs in Bhutanese Buddhism; seen on clothing, tanghkas, wall paintings.

To ward off all evil

A typical building front

Decorative detail on a dzong, a former fortress now used as a monastery

Tomorrow we hike up to Tiger’s Nest and hopefully Ill be able to share that with you.

Nameste

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