My choice (finally) is the BETSEST!

The Taj Mahal is beautiful BEYOND words! I would feel kinda bad just saying it was “beautiful”, or “cool”, or even “breath taking”. It is simply beyond words! (it is also pretty much beyond exclamation points!)! I am just the slightest bit disappointed because we didn’t get to see it go pink. I guess it has to be a certain time of year or something. They made you wear these little cover things over our footwear so they don’t have to clean the marble. It was looked after VERY well! They have lots of precautions and rules to keep it in good order. For example you are not allowed to bring food, gum or candy in, or bags (so they don’t have to search it). You are allowed only to bring in cameras and water (and clothes of course). Then, once you get past an outside gate you have to pay for use of a video camera. Then, once you get inside the main Taj Mahal gate you aren’t allowed to take video anymore. Only still pictures. The people didn’t know (and probably wouldn’t let us explain) that dads camera takes pictures and video, and that we wouldn’t take video. They thought my camera could only take pictures (and we didn’t explain that it can do videos and we took several. We were then even).

Then, once you went to go inside the fake tomb room (I’ll explain in a moment) you had to put all cameras away. There are two chambers, an upper chamber and a lower chamber. The bodies are actually in the lower chamber but you aren’t allowed to go there. In the upper chamber there are two fake caskets.

Now to start describing it. From any pictures you see, you’ll think it is a building with a dome on top and two towers on each side. But it is actually the building with a dome on top then a square raised platform surrounding it and a pillar on each corner. It is a BEAUTIFULLY carved Indian Marble. It is actually harder than Italian marble, ect (we kept on getting told this). And once you get on the outside of it near the entrance, there is lots of semi-precious stones inlaid into the Taj Mahal. It was designs of flowers and there were just so pretty! There were also carved flowers right below it. It went all the way around the building. Once you got inside (surprisingly there was no long line and you actually had room for your elbows!). There was a first little room (again with the inlaid flowers) which in the middle had the stairs to get down to the real caskets. This opening in the floor had a little fence to keep people away and a metal grate that was locked up with a padlock for even more security measures (because lots of people here ignore the ropes and the fences we often saw).

Then you would walk into the second room where the fake caskets were. It has another grate like wall (except carved of marble and going vertically instead of horizontally in the floor) which had a kind of doorway so you could see the “pretend” caskets (and of course surrounding that was a rope fence.). Around the room on the outside walls were again beautifully carved white marble window openings. I think there was 3 kinda “layers” (shall we say) of walls with windows. The first layer had glass, but the second and third did not (have glass). The ceiling was very high and it had clever grooves carved into it so you couldn’t tell which part was the groove or the part that was sticking out!. The entire thing was just stunning!

Surrounding the Taj Mahal (about 200 meters away and outside the main gate) were the places where the laborers slept. Now time for a little history about it. The Taj Mahal was a dedication (from a king) for his second wife who died while giving birth to their 14th child. He wanted to also build a black Taj Mahal (an exact copy of the white one, but for himself). The Maharajah’s son didn’t want him to build one, so he imprisoned his father. The son thought it was a further waste of money, and didn’t want anything to foreshadow the mausoleum built for his mother. The black Taj Mahal never got built. When his father died (I think he was still imprisoned), he got put in the Taj Mahal with his second wife, (in a slightly larger more ornate casket). There was no big ceremony or anything. He was simply placed beside his favorite wife in there and then everyone left. Very sad.

I forgot, once the Taj Mahal was finished, the Maharajah had the hands of the master carvers who worked on the Taj Mahal cut off. This would ensure that never again could they create something as beautiful. That’s all (sadly) about the Taj Mahal.

Also today we went to look at some shops where they have semi-precious (or colored) stone inlaid into white marble, (from the same quarries as the Taj). First we went to the guide’s place, and didn’t buy anything. Then we went to the driver’s place and bought about 200 dollars (Canadian) worth of stuff. (I’ll explain why we went to the driver and guides place in a sec.) We bought a plate for our kitchen wall rack (with the Taj Mahal on it of course). I bought a VEERRRY pretty pendant. It is a heart with some colored inlaid stones which makes a flower. It only cost about 20 dollars Canadian. The tourist business is cut throat here! We had to go to both places because, if we buy something, whomevers place it is they get a commission when we buy something. The driver was polite about it, but the guide wasn’t! He took us to his inlaid place then, when we didn’t buy anything and we got back in the car, he said “ I want to take you to a place, it has star of India”. We just said we wanted to eat, then we were gonna go to the next town with our driver (the guide was only for Agra). The guide kinda got mad and us and starting insisting that “no you will like, I want to show you star of India”. We just kept on refusing and you could barely tell, but he was a bit angry. We later found out from driver that when you don’t buy an inlaid thing, they’ll take you to a jewelry shop, then a fabric shop and on and on. There are desperate for that commission. I liked how our driver actually asked us if we wanted to go. He told us before that they get commission and if we don’t want to go then tell him. We did tell the guide before we left that we didn’t want to go, but when we came out of the Taj Mahal we forgot and he noticed and took us there anyways. The drivers do what the guide says though, because they want to stay friends. Also everyone wants a tip! A guys tell us how to get good pictures and what to do then after he says he wants tip. Oh yeah I forgot our guide was also very bad! Yesterday he took us to the red fort but he rushed us through everything! Then today he showed us the right way down to the Taj Mahal, walked us down this road where cars can’t go, then handed us off to another guide. Then once we got to the second gate to get in, the second guide pointed us in the right direction and said goodbye. Turns out he isn’t an officail guide so he can’t go in (or get caught inside) with tourists. He only walked us about 100 meters and told us “that is where some of the laborers stayed”. Then guess what he did? He asked for a tip. Then, also near the gate there were 2 cows who had a huge rotary blade style lawn mower that pulled behind them. We took a couple pictures while they were on a break) and the owners posed with the cows. Then once we were gonna leave they asked for a tip! I didn’t have to pay but I still got a headache!

It was funny because when we were just about to leave Luke had to go to the washroom, but he forgot to get toilet paper and when Dad went in to check on him, they remembered mum didn’t have her purse. So dad pulled out and suggested using a 10 rupee bill (not even thirty cents Canadian). Luke, who seems to care more about the money than himself said “I can’t use money!!!!!!!!!” We could just barely hear him from outside the bathroom! In the end they found the attendant who was selling toilet paper. Ironically it cost 10 rupees! S’all for now miss everyone!
Alex
PS Taj Mahal is AWESOME!!!!!!

5 Responses to “My choice (finally) is the BETSEST!”

  1. AJ says:

    Sorry I had to be like dad and write such a long blog, 🙂 but it was my choice and I just couldn’t resist 🙂

  2. grandmavi says:

    WOW, you must have been very impressed with the Taj Mahal to write such a long blog (longest ever, I think). Don’t apologize, it was awesome reading and in defense of your dad (call me prejudiced – LOL) he writes a good story too. You described it so well that I could almost see everything when I closed my eyes. It does sound spectacular. Aside from that, I love the part about Luke and the toilet paper. Keep having fun – think of all the memories you’ll have.
    Love from Grandma Vi

  3. Luke says:

    Yes, good story Alex. By the way though, Dad should be capitalised. (From your comment.)

  4. Rick says:

    Sorry Alex… You wrote a great story, but I know you were in a rush. I just couldn’t stand it anymore and had to make a bunch of spelling and grammatical corrections. Mrs. V would never have let you live it down! Really though, you had two instances of using “to” for “two”. As bad a speller as I sometimes am, something this rudimentary shouldn’t be happening to my Daughter!!! 😉

    Sorry daddy but you forgot I can Edit your comments 🙂 ( make sure to notice me twiddling my fingers evily) 🙂

  5. AJ says:

    Make sure to notice my tounge sticking out at you dad and luke
    PS your absolutly wrong! (luke)
    Grama Vi isa inside joke, I had to apalagize.