We arrived in Agra on what felt like the fastest train we’d experienced in India. Like every traveller to Agra, we were there to see the Taj Mahal—a structure I had avoided on my previous two visits to India.
It was a time when there weren’t the intense crowds that now ogle at this exquisite structure. We passed the rectangular pool with floating garbage, but it didn’t detract from the elegance of the seventeenth century mausoleum. Inside the building at the bottom of white marble steps, were the tombs of both Emperor Shah Jahan who commissioned the building for his favourite wife, Mumtaz, and her tomb that rested beside his. The marble walls of the UNESCO world heritage site were inlayed with coloured stones. Many of the precious inlayed stones had been stollen along with carpets that once covered the interior floors. Despite these thefts, no building I have ever seen since has surpassed this tasteful mausoleum.
Within the grounds was a red sandstone mosque displaying the same elegant Islamic architecture though often overlooked. I wished I could have enjoyed this unique experience more, but that day, I was suffering from Delhi belly. I should have waited twenty-four hours, then I could have spent more time wandering the grounds instead of clutching my stomach.
Featured image courtesy Jakub Italun, Wikimedia Commons.