The Taj Mahal….. Listed as one of the new seven wonders of the world and has been on my bucket list of places to visit forever. I remember feeling somewhat giddy as we walked through the massive red sandstone gate and it all come into view. Packed with other eager tourists, everyone jostles for the perfect picture opportunities. As we walked toward the Taj along manicured gardens and fountains, it’s grandness becomes more apparent. But it’s the love story behind it’s creation that I ind the Taj Mahal so mesmerizing. Built by emperor Shah Jahan it was the place to hold his favorite wife’s tomb who died during child birth. Construction started in 1632 and wasn’t completed till 1643. Jahan was dealt another devastating blow when his own son overthrew him and put him under house arrest at Agra Fort until he died and was buried by his late wife. In the 18th and 19th centuries the Taj Mahal was ransacked, abandoned and lost all hope that it’s history would be shared with those around the world. However in the late 19th century British Lord Curzon commissioned a massive restoration project and the Taj was brought back to life. To image the Taj Mahal being built hundred of year ago and the man power it took to construct it is unbelievable. Massive slabs of marble carved, polished, etched with details and formed into a perfect symmetrical dome. It seems like an impossible feat but yet there it still stand nearly 375 years later. Through three and a half weeks of traveling through India, visiting the Taj Mahal was last on our list. We had seen countless temples, palaces and forts but saved the best for last and I can now mark one more item off my bucket list!
Throughout India on many different occasions we could hear music blaring and people dancing in the streets. Having no idea what was going on we later found out that this was the beginning of numerous festivals celebrating Hindu gods. A single truck with 10-15 speakers tied to the outside leads huge groups of 20-30 people down the middle of the street. As people walk behind the truck dancing they douse each other in massive clouds of colored chalk powder. While in Agra we were lucky enough to participate in one of these mobile parties in the street celebrating the Lord Ganesh!! We would hear the music coming from a mile away. At first we just wanted to record the experience but then the group of 35ish people stopped and started dancing with us! By the end of our dance party we were covered in chalk powder and feeling very humbled that the locals would let us foreigners participate in such a honored tradition.