Jay Kannaiyan and sanDRina - Jammin thru India

Day 22 - Marvelling at the Taj Mahal in Agra

From across the Yamuna River in Agra, Jay takes in stunning views of the Taj Mahal

Finally seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time. This is across the Yamuna from Mehtab Bagh.
Today was the day that I would finally get to see the Taj Mahal. My hosts in Agra took me first to Mehtab Bagh, which is a park on the Yamuna River, right across the Taj Mahal. Since we came at sunrise, the yellow glow of the early morning rays cast a warm feeling over the Taj, reflecting my own emotions of seeing this grand monument for the first time. It's much bigger than I expected and my first impression was that, "Wow, it is really is as magnificent as its reputation beholds!" 
The Taj is prominent in the Agra skyline.

Then we entered the actual site and security was tight, particularly relating to food items with the guard asking me to throw away my mints that help me in this dry heat. From the main sandstone gate, the first sight of the Taj Mahal, framed by the arch, sets you up for a mesmerizing view. Once inside, I felt privileged to be an Indian and have this monument be our symbol to the world.
In direct sunlight, the whiteness of the marble comes through.
Up close, it was even more impressive as the whiteness of the marble came through with the sunlight hitting its eastern face. Looking at all the intricate relief work and inlay of semi-precious stones, I thought back to how many man-hours it must have taken to build such a structure, that too, almost four centuries ago. I wondered how many more centuries the Taj would still be standing here and appreciated by everyone that gazed upon it. 
The Taj Mahal in all its grandeur.
The marble is slowly yellowing due to air pollution in Agra and the Archaeological Survey of India has taken some measures to counter it, namely by enforcing a 500 m radius ban of conventional automobiles. From the car park, only battery operated autos or camel carts are allowed to get close to the Taj. I can't say how much effect that has on the marble but it sure does give the area a hushed, quiet feel, which makes the appreciation of the Taj Mahal all that much more special.
A closeup of the marble inlay that adorns the white marble of the Taj.
Enjoy this video postcard:

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Also in Agra district is Fatehpur Sikri, founded in 1569 by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, grandfather of Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal. Fatehpur Sikri was established after Akbar's military victories over the Rajputs at the edge of the Sikri ridge, 37 km from Agra. It was named in honour of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.

Read more: Memories make music at Fatehpur Sikri

The Man. The Machine. The Story

There are love stories and love stories, but none tugs more at the heart than a tale of infinite departure. In March 2010, Jay Kannaiyan and sanDRina, his beloved Suzuki DR650, left on a great journey back home to India. Jay quit his secure corporate job, sold his Chicago townhouse and every household possession, and left with sanDRina on a journey that saw them through 94,933 km, 32 countries, and 1,150 days on the road through the Global South -- from the USA through Latin America and Africa, heading towards India. At the core of this seemingly mindless pursuit was Jay’s desire to raise awareness about sustainability and a unique sentiment best described by an archaic Greek term, eudaimonia – the search for things that are true, good and beautiful. 

Homecoming isn’t complete unless you experience the country you call home in all her varied terrain and temperaments. And so Jay and sanDRina will embark on a journey of discovery through India. 

Yahoo India Travel follows Jay and sanDRina on their exhilarating discovery of India with daily updates from the road in words, pictures and video. If you have questions to ask, or words of encouragement for Jay and sanDRina, follow Jammin India on Twitter (hashtag #jamminindia). Also visit JamminGlobal.com for comprehensive accounts of his journey so far as well as snippets and trivia.