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Our First Glimpse at the Taj

With less than 48 hours to go until we all part ways, it feels strange that we are almost at the end of our trip. Today consisted of mainly travel as we left Jaipur around 9 a.m. for our second to last destination, Agra.

Our first stop on the way was at Chand Baori, a 19.5 meter deep step well, located in a village called Abhanagari. Its size was incredible and hard to put in words. The steps seemed to continue forever in a dizzying spiral. Additionally, around the stepwell, we also saw the relics of an old temple.

The step well was huge!

We also got a demonstration from local villagers on how to make clay pottery, and had a chance to see their home. The couple we met made many different things like clay tea cups, incense holders, and dishes. One of us (Leah) even got the chance to try her hand at the wheel!

Leah making pottery via a hand spun wheel

After heading out from Abhanagari, we stopped for a quick lunch and went back on the road. Our tour guide had a small surprise for us on our way. He had a performer with a monkey give us a show! Monkeys are very common in many parts of India and after the somewhat feral monkey we saw in Walchandnagar which broke some street signage, this was a very different experience.

After this performance, we continued our drive, and reached Agra within a few hours. Our last destination for the day before we head back to the hotel was the Taj Mahal, sort of. We went to a garden across the Taj Mahal, to get our first glimpse of its grandeur. To say it was stunning is an understatement. It’s symmetry and brilliance along with the peaceful surroundings was inspiring and showed the love Shah Jahan had for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Our group on the other side of the river from the Taj

After many pictures, we headed back to the hotel. However the day was not over. Many of us planned to wear Sarees for the next day to the Taj. However, only two of us (Aparna and Arthi) knew how to correctly wear them. So before we went to bed for the night, we all had a (very successful) practice session in one of the rooms. After everyone sort of had a handle on how to wear a saree, we called it a night, as we had a 4 am wakeup call.

Our first day in Agra was incredible, and we’re extremely excited to see the Taj Mahal tomorrow bright and early!

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