Photo Credit: Brandy Brown; Susan Manser

DAY 02: AGRA

Highlights:  Dining on traditional Utter Pradesh Food on our hotel rooftop overlooking the Taj Mahal, an early morning visit to the Taj Mahal for Sunrise, a tour of the Marble & Gemstone emporium, sampling India’s flavors during a lunch buffet at “Pinch of Spice”.

We arrived in Agra just before sunrise, watching the scenery before us disappear in and out of the midst that filled the sky.  October through March are great months to visit India, as the cool winter temperatures provide for a very pleasant journey.  The midst added a mystical element to our arrival to Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal.  We spent the evening in the beautiful rooftop gardens of our hotel, dining on classical Mughali & Northern Indian dishes.  The favorites of the evening where the chef’s specialty vegetable Hagh, a sweet white curry with dried fruits known as Navaratan Korma, a perfectly spiced mutton dish, and a traditional chicken tikka masala served with rice and naan bread.

After a wonderful evening dining on delicious curries we departed for bed.  We woke up early in the morning to the smells of home baked flatbreads, sweet fruit puddings, and mildly spiced curries.  Once our bellies were full and our mouths satisfied, we set off with our guide Jaya on our interactive tour of the Taj.  We would spend the next three hours exploring the grounds of one of the Seven New WOnders of the world.  From the history of the Persian architecture and the unforgettable love story of a Mughal Emperor, to learning how to find beautiful lighting and capture iconic moments on camera, the morning was filled with many unforgettable lessons.

The Taj Mahal is one of those places that you will want to visit time and time again.  The fusion of Indian and Middle Eastern Art and the inlay of such precious stones in the marble facade of the complex – is absolutely stunning.  Directly following our visit to the Taj, we went to the marble emporium to learn how such designs were created.  A trade secret of a single family still to this day, the method for creating and maintaining the facade of the Taj is highly sercretive.  For this reason the Taj embodies more than just a love story or architectural masterpiece, but also a mystical landscape of the unknown.

Before our departure towards Jaipur, we visited the famous restaurant “Pinch of Spice” – a restaurant that features different dishes from throughout India.  The buffet was delicious once again.  When in Agra do not leave without seeing the Taj Mahal or without dining at “Pinch of Spice”, and if you get the chance – try a local delicacy known as Dry Petha.  You won’t regret it.

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