Exploring India…

It all started when Greg Dewey told me about his plans to visit India. Greg is my colleague and a very dear friend. We work for the same business unit – Individual Life New Business.
 
Greg was supposed to come to Principal Global Services to train my team on the enhanced triage process. He really wanted to visit the Taj Mahal and places around it during his four- week stay in India. Considering his busy schedule, we had only two days for this trip and I had my own doubts whether two days would be sufficient and whether I could bear this trip to historical monuments.  I never liked history and anything close to it. But to my surprise, not only could we visit the Taj Mahal but we could also visit places such as Agra Fort, Qutub Minar, Lodi Gardens, Red Fort, India Gate, Janpath and Raj Ghat.
 
We left Pune on an early Saturday morning and were in Delhi within two hours. On the way to our hotel, we visited the Qutub Minar.
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Qutub Minar is the tallest minaret in India and has been declared UNESCO World Heritage site. It is made of red sandstone and marble and is 72.5 metres high. It is surrounded by several other ancient and medieval structures and ruins, collectively known as the Qutub complex.
 
After a sumptuous lunch, we headed for Lodi Gardens. It’s a serene, beautiful place which has quite a few monuments scattered around the park, spread over 90 acres. One can easily spend hours admiring the nature here.
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After Lodi gardens, we visited the Red Fort and the Raj Ghat. Red fort is the largest monument in old Delhi and was built by a Mughal emperor, Shah Jehan (who also built the Taj Mahal). Every year on 15 August (Independence Day), Prime Minister hoists the national flag at the Red Fort, followed by a nationally broadcast speech from its ramparts.
Raj Ghat is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. The black stone marks the spot of cremation of Mahatma Gandhi.
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Then we were at India Gate, a wonderful and famous monument in New Delhi. It was built in 1931 to honor the soldiers of India who fought and then died during World War I and the Afghan Wars. On the walls of the monument are the names of all the 90,000 fallen soldiers who died in those earlier wars.
 
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By 8 p.m., we were back in the hotel, located within a 10 minute walk from the India Gate. We were quite tired and hungry. So, we had our dinner at the hotel and called it a day.
 
Sunday:
We started at 6 in the morning. Agra is 202 km away from Delhi. We reached Agra by 10 a.m. We were really excited about our Taj visit. And when we reached the Taj Mahal; we were completely fascinated by the beautiful and spectacular monument. We were completely awestruck and just kept clicking pictures. 
 
Taj Mahal is known as a symbol of enduring love. It was built by Shah Jehan to house the grave of his beloved wife, Queen Mumtaz Mahal, who died following the birth of their 14th child.  Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and it was completed in 1648. Yes, it took 16 years to build this beauty.
 
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Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures. The white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar component. It is also surrounded by tombs of Shah Jehan’s other wives. 
After having a mesmerizing experience of visiting the Taj Mahal, we moved to Agra Fort.
 
 
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Agra Fort is quite huge and offers a great view of the Taj Mahal from its balcony. Some part of this fort is still being used by the Indian Army so one doesn’t have access to those parts of the fort.
 
We left from Agra at 2 p.m. and reached Delhi Airport by 6:30 p.m. And yes, we made it two hours prior to our flight to Pune!
 
I’ll remember this weekend trip for many exciting and enriching experiences:
  • It was fun travelling and seeing places with a friend who belongs to a different continent. A memorable experience! Looking forward for more such experiences!
  • I was never good at history and Greg doesn’t like history much, so it worked for both of us! But while writing this blog, I had to refer to sources for more information. In the process, I realized that history is not that boring. And Wikipedia makes it more interesting!
  • Taj Mahal, the symbol of enduring love, made me fall in love – with photography and travelling!
  • A visit to the Taj Mahal and New Delhi is easily possible over a weekend. Please feel free to approach me if you want to plan one. I’ll be glad to help you.
  • Lastly, I came across this poem on Wikipedia. Emperor Shah Jehan has himself described the Taj Mahal in these words-
Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator’s glory.
 
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Truly, a wonderful experience and a memorable trip it was.