Location: Agra & Delhi
Today was a day we’ve been anticipating for a long time, the Taj Mahal. We had to wake up a bit earlier than we would have liked- at 4:30 am, at least tried to wake up, we all had to drag ourselves out of bed and into the taxis. We arrived at the train station and hopped on our 6 am train to Agra. Most everyone slept on the train, but Uttam and I stayed awake to work on our journals. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery of India as the train zipped by. After two quiet hours, we arrived at Agra and prepared for a sight to behold-the Taj Mahal. Walking through the gates of the Taj Mahal was breathtaking. It’s one of those moments that a lot of people dream about but never get to experience. And as touristy as it is, Taj Mahal certainly lives up to the hype. Uttam thought that it was worth the 20 rupees (less than 50 cents) that he had to pay with his overseas citizenship. The white marble sparkles in the sunlight, and the grass is almost unbelievably green. It doesn’t look real. Bryn took a picture where it looks like she’s standing in front of a green screen. After taking about a thousand pictures and getting a history lesson on the Taj Mahal from our tour guide, we were free to roam around. We all donned our (somewhat dorky) shoe covers and walked inside the massive mausoleum and around the grounds. It was too hot, so we stopped and sat down in one of the massive arches that surround the main dome. Not a bad place to take a break. However, we were approached for a lot of pictures (again), and someone even thrust their baby at Allie. The baby liked Allie as much as Allie liked the baby-which is not very much. After an hour and a half of exploring one of the Seven Wonders of the World, we left with sense fulfillment-and even fuller cameras. As sad as we were to leave the Taj Mahal, we were all relieved to be in an air-conditioned room again and to get some coffee as we were starting to feel the effects of our early wake-up time. We had one of our last meals of delicious Indian food, which included lots and lots of Naan. After a refreshing lunch, we all piled into the taxi for the 3-hour car ride back to Delhi. Uttam, Allie and I appreciated the long car ride as it gave us a chance to catch up on the note cards, journals, and reflections. John, Julia, Maddie, and Bryn all took advantage of the car ride to catch up on some sleep. We did play another game of I Spy where every answer was a brick. There were a lot of bricks. Back at the hotel, we were pretty exhausted from the long hot day, so we all took some time to relax in our rooms. Then we had the most American final dinner imaginable- Domino’s pizza. Our last night in Dharamsala, we failed at ordering pizza as no one wanted to deliver down to the monastery, so I think it was a fitting way to end the trip. I don’t think any of us are ready to go home, and I know that we’ll all miss each other so much. It feels weird that this is all ending tomorrow, but I know that well all remember this amazing experience for the rest of our lives.