Agra: Dancing at The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal

The Taj was built by Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife who died delivering their 14th child. The building is a spectacle from across the half mile courtyard. Construction was finished in 1648. If you start to doubt how remarkable this building is when compared to other marvels in the world today (like we did), remember that it was built in the 17th century.  No big machines.  Just lots and lots of people. Nearly every inch is covered in handmade glass for decoration.

One of our most iconic pictures of our travels came when Annie had the idea for me to dip her with the Taj in the background. We asked a stranger to take a picture, then someone else said, “Stop! That is illegal!” We were confused. “What is illegal,” we asked. He responded, “Dancing.  Drawing too much attention to yourself.” We’re happy we took the picture.

It was anything, but peaceful inside.  In fact, it was incredibly loud under the dome of the Taj Mahal.  An officer was blowing a whistle to get people to keep moving, while another was pushing everyone through the small door.  This was another example of 'functional anarchy.'  We definitely had more fun outside of the Taj Mahal, than inside. 

Will the Smog Ruin our Day?

We woke up in our hotel in Agra and were devastated when we looked out the window. We couldn’t see more than 20 yards across the courtyard. Sure enough, we checked the air quality report and Agra was listed as “Hazardous.” We drove 6 hours to come to Agra, and now we wouldn’t be able to even get a glimpse of the Taj Mahal.  After breakfast, the smog started to lift and we had a much prettier day.