Incredible India! I was so pissed off by it i wanted to kinda teleport from the vessel straight home without passing by, ending up crew changing in a small city, with nothing to do, nowhere to go, shabby little hotels and traveling for ages to get in and out of that place on the noisiest planes ever!
But this was a must! I had to see Taj Mahal!
And there i was...landing in Delhi and (for the first time) getting out of the airport, i was met by my good friend Shaleen who arranged the whole thing (Thanks a million Shaleen! i had a great trip :) ) who drove me to my little nice hotel, and that's when my "indian" ideas started to change, it's actually a nice city, greenery, good roads, pretty much like Cairo, felt kinda familiar and that felt kinda good :)
Next day we drove out early in the morning to Agra, the home of one of the world wonders...Taj Mahal! A four hour drive with an Idli breakfast in the middle, it was quite warm outside, 42 degrees i think? And we had to walk quite a bit to get there, bought the ticket, passed the gate, followed the rest of the people. Couldn't see it yet, then you go through that little second gate and WOW!!! Suddenly, right there, proudly facing us was the Taj itself, shining in the sun with its bright white marble, i knew right there and then that my decision to come here was a really good one!
The story of this place is very romantic: Shah Jahan was a Mughal ruler, he was married to a beautiful woman named Mumtaz Mahal (excellence of the place) that he loved "dil se", with all his heart. When she died, he was so sad and decided to build a monument to immortalize the memory of his beloved wife, it had to be beautiful and perfect! Thus the choice for white marbles, colored stones and perfect symmetry around the tomb of Mumtaz, obviously the place was named after her, Taj Mahal: The crown of Mahal.
The story goes further that he was planning to build an exact copy across the river, made of black marble for himself, but alas! he died before that happenned, and his son Aurangzeb (who believed that perfection is a description for God only) buried his father next to hid mother distorting the perfect symmetry his father has intended. And by the way, you can sea the place where the black Taj was meant to be built but never did standing behind the original Taj.
Next destination was the Agra fort or Red fort, another Mughal piece, another masterpiece of Islamic architecture. You can clearly see the Taj from the fort and the fort from the Taj, and make nice pictures :)
The rest of the day was spent going back to Delhi, eating at Deli Baat then playing two rounds of pool (i won both :D ) and a really good night sleep afterwards :)