Jan 3, 2011 The Taj Mahal

January 4, 2011
posted by admin

  

I'll never complain about Abingdon traffic again!

 

This was a special day!  We traveled to Agra, India to see the Taj Mahal, or “The Taj”, as they call it in India.   As Dr. David Lewis, our team leader always says, “You can’t go to India and not see the Taj Mahal!” Our plans were to go to Agra and spend one night.  We checked out of our hotel around 10:00 a.m. and boarded our 22 passenger tourist bus.   

The drive to Agra ended up taking us six hours, but it took us 2.5 hours just to make it out of Delhi!   The traffic was snarled as drivers don’t recognize lanes, speed limits or traffic signals.  Cars, buses, trucks, delivery vehicles, bicycles,  motorized rickshaws mixed with carts pulled by donkeys, oxen and even  camels.  We were all amazing to see how many farm tractors pulling flatbeds of calliflower or rice also used the same roads.  The soundtrack of India contains the sound of a car and motorcyle horn, which they use liberally as they weave in and out and pass with no more than an inch to spare.  Believe it or not, in the six hours down and six hours back, we did not witness any accidents.  Indians must be pretty good drivers!  Of course, your prayers back home aren’t hurting either. 

busy side street

 

The six hour drive gave us a chance to see some of the Indian city and country-scapes: sides streets clogged with trade; dirty, barefoot children selling wares at the intersections; sacred brahman cows wondering anywhere they please; a family of four riding a motorcyle; monkeys  playing in the bushes; large pigs rooting in trashpiles; mongrel dogs; men urinating along the road; street vendors with fruit on display in wooden carts; having stations set up by a wall; uniformed school boys; shephards herding goats; Hindu shrines; fields of beautiful yellow-flowering mustard and symmetrical rice patties; and brick kilns rising up beside cell phone towers.  I learned from what I saw that the Indian people are industrious, persevering and inventive, never idol.  The common man doesn’t have the resources or tools at their disposal, but they use what they have to cut metal, transport produce, barter services, make a rupee.  Some people, just sweep the streets with a  straw broom, just to do something.   

go goats go!

 

rickshaws and ox carts

 

street barbor

 

Upon arriving in Agra, we stopped on a busy street and our thin, fast talking Indian tour guide jumped on.  He was a wealth of knowledge and proved to be worth his weight in gold when it came to navigating the sea of hawkers at the entrance to the Taj Mahal.   

We arrived at the Taj Mahal late in the day and hurridly purchased our tickets which came with a red pair of paper surgical slip-on shoes we had to put over top of our shoes to enter the Taj.   We walked down a long street about a half mile full of street vendors selling everything from Taj Mahal snow globes to wooden cobras.   Finally, we arrived at the East gate of the Taj an entered into a very large square courtyard.  There are four large ornate red sandstone gates.   As we turned right and passed through the dark north gate, we could see the opalescent dome of the Taj shining ahead of us and we stepped out into the famous view:  a long rectangular center pool flanked by manicured gardens reflecting the luminous, white marbel mausoleum.   Nothing prepared me for that moment.  It was breathtaking.    We shot a million photos as the last light of the day cast a pink hue on the sky and seemed to make the Taj glow iridescent.  

view through the north gate

 

people from all nations

 

red and yellow black and white

 

rear view of Taj Mahal

 

 

The Taj Mahal is considered one of the SevenWonders of the World and in 1993 was desigated as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  It was built by Mongul  emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife. It is widely considered as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and stands as a symbol of eternal love.  Our guide explained to us that it took 20,000 craftsmam and artisans 22 years to build the shrine starting in 1632 and ending in 1654.  From far away, the Taj looks smooth and solid white, but up-close it has ornate marble carvings and inlays of stones to make intricate designs.  I was not expecting the thousands of international visitors that were there or the cold weather we encountered.  It was probably 47 degrees! 

marble carvings

 

marble inlays

 

After we closed the Taj Mahal down, we were taken by our guide to another part of the city to see the marble artisans at work.   The marble artisans sit on the floor and grind semi-precious stones using very primative sanding tools.  Jasper, lapis lazuli, onyx, cornilian, malachite, turquoise, coral, and paua shell are inlaid into Indian marble to create beautiful table tops, hot plates, coasters and boxes.   Artisans learn their craft within families as these skills are passed down from generation to generation.  Some of the table tops that we saw contained thousands of inlays and took artisans over two years to complete.
By this time, it was  very late and we checked into our hotel in Agra.  There was no internet service, so I was not able to blog that night.  We all went sleep to the sounds of traffic, beeping horns and Hindu chanting.  (or maybe that was the malarone!)

 

I want to thank all of you for praying Lane O’Daniel is feeling much better from his cold or alergies, and Jan Lewis’ mouth ulcers are also healing up and not so painful.  Tomorrow, we will see the Red Fort/Palace in Agra that was an early capital of India and visit some rug artisans before we head back to Delhi.  


10 Responses to “Jan 3, 2011 The Taj Mahal”

  1. Holly Says:

    Beautiful Ms. Parker. Thank you for giving us an inside view of city life and Indian culture. Did you find the postcard stand? (Ha ha!)

  2. Liza Peltola Says:

    Fantastic photos and beautiful description! I feel like I’m right there with you. I can’t believe you saw the Taj Mahal! That is so cool!! If you find an interesting rock or stone, that’s all you need to bring back to make Ethan and Titus happy.

  3. Russell & Joanna Owens Says:

    Christy – I haven’t altogether got the sequence on the blog. I ‘ve been fascinated by the “Taj” since a hight school civics teacher at Meadowview and former Abingdon Baptist pastor, who had been a missionary in India told us about it. Tell Laura I knew the downtown Baptist Hospital was gone, but I hadn’t thoutht about the Nursing School/Dorm. The male interns had quarters in the hospital, but we two females were housed in the Nurses Dorm except when we were on call. On call I had a cot in the hospital somewhere close a phone or a vacant patient bed, if any. There wasn’t much sleep on call anyway! The first of the big “new” wings opened the middle of my intern year (first year residency it’s called now) so I had more locations to choose from. Yes, it’s a small world and all God’s/ We’re so glad you are getting this experience, Prayers, Joanna

  4. Suzanne Says:

    Christy the pics and blog are so amazing!! The one of you in front of the Taj Mahal is terrific! You look beautiful as usual!! So thankful your team members are feeling better. We continue to pray for all of you!! Love and prayers, S<

  5. ed glover Says:

    Hey Christy,
    Keeping you guys in prayer and following your blog. The traffic was the same way in Malaysia when I was there in oct. Drivers same way and no accidents either. Take care.

    Love in Jesus Christ
    ed

  6. Becky Says:

    You write so beautifully Christy. Your descriptions along with the photos make me feel like I am almost there. How incredible! Thank you so much for taking the time to blog about what you are experiencing. What a gift that you were able to see “The Taj.” And it is so interesting to read the history that goes with it! Just amazing.

  7. admin Says:

    Becky,
    Thanks for following the blog. We arrived in central rural India yesterday and met the orphans, boy and girls ages 2 years to 18. They had a special praise and worship service for us and presented leis. So sweet. Today we provided medical care to all the boys and some villagers. Beautiful people. i remember Jennifer wearing a dot on her forehead at some point when we were little…where did she go? Love ya, Christy

  8. admin Says:

    Ed,
    Thanks for following the blog, for your encouragement and especially the prayers. I know you have also been on a mission trip to Malaysia in Oct, Suzanne mentioned that. Hopefully, I’ll see you sometime in Bristol and we can compare notes. God bless! Christy

  9. admin Says:

    Suzanne,
    Thanks for being a faithful reader and encourager. I got an email from Ed Glover too so thanks for sharing with your team. We can feel the prayers. Spent yesterday and today in central India in a rural area with orphans where we will be for seven more days. The people here are beautiful! Love ya! Christy

  10. admin Says:

    Thank you for your kind words. I’m blessed to have this experience and the blog allows me to share it with others.
    Christy