Location: Agra

Today was the day we got to see the Taj Mahal. Before we left, I looked on the internet to check on the most important news of the past four months: whether Neymar, a professional football player, would be traded to PSG, my favorite football team? The answer was yes; Neymar is going to PSG for an estimated $222 million (mind-boggling). With that important news, we headed off for our day exploring the Taj Mahal. We took a fast train to Agra, so I got some time to catch up on all the writing I need to do for note cards and program reflections. From the train station, we took taxis to the Taj Mahal. When we arrived, we had a tour guide show us around and tell us about the history of the Taj Mahal. You may be wondering why I named the title “bubbles the angry tour guide,” and that is because our tour guide had anything but a bubbly personality. He seemed more like a drill sergeant on a power trip.

The Taj Mahal itself is very impressive and pretty. It has a mosque and many rooms where the builders lived during construction. The main building is mostly made of beautiful white marble. It is a big rectangular building with a gigantic dome on the top. It was finished with a ten-meter pinnacle standing menacingly at the top. We wrapped our feet in the paper when we walked inside as to not get the inside dirty. The inside was dark, as there weren’t any sources of artificial light, and there were writing and designs on the interior walls. In the center of the main room, there are replicas of the coffins of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan, the woman the Taj Mahal was built for and the Mughal Emperor who built it. Their actual tombs are below the center room.

Here is a brief history of the Taj Mahal: A long time ago, a king went off to war while his wife was pregnant with her 14th child. She insisted on coming to the battlefield and died after giving birth. On her deathbed she made the king promise three things; first, to take care of all the children; second, to never remarry; and third, to build a beautiful monument to show his unwavering love for her. He kept all three promises and hence the Taj Mahal was built (although eight out of the fourteen children died so I don’t know if you can count that as “taking care of the children”). Shah Jahan had plans to build a black Taj Mahal directly across the river from the white one, but his son imprisoned him (after killing all his brothers) before Shah Jahan could complete the building, so only the foundation exists and can be seen from the backside of the Taj Mahal.

We finished off our day back in Delhi at a delicious restaurant with live Indian music not far from our hotel.