Agra and New Delhi
It would be a crime to travel the line from Chitrakoot to New Delhi without popping out at Agra to take another peek at the Taj Mahal. I don’t usually go out of my way to see temples or monuments on my travels - I’ve seen countless over the years and after a surprisingly short while they all start to look more or less the same. I’ve even seen the Taj Mahal once before on my first trip to India, but still, the moment it caught my eye I was instantly reminded how this place is a wonder in every sense of the word. In absolutely any light, it glows; I’ve seen no other man made structure that is even remotely comparable.
The Taj Mahal was built in the 16th century by the Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial for his wife who died giving birth (to their 14th child no less). But after spending over 20 years constructing the Taj Mahal, Jahan was never able to fully appreciate his own creation as he was overthrown by his own son and imprisoned in nearby Agra Fort. Perhaps as a small nod to his poppa, Jahan’s son made sure his cell was created in much the same detail and material as the Taj Mahal itself and it had a window with a perfect view of the Taj Mahal over the city of Agra. It was still a jerk move though.
A visit to the Taj isn’t quite as serene as the building is itself. There are 1.2 billion people in India and they seemingly all want to see it as well. Lines, crowds, pushing, spitting, aggressive touts, and vile washrooms are all part of the package. But I suppose this wouldn’t be India without some jarring juxtaposition of amazing beauty and wretched awfulness.