eliot & drew bike through india for 3 months, trying to inconspicuously do some good in the world.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

taj

slept in the morning after we got to agra. a sixteen hour train ride really takes it out of you. spent the morning eating and drinking coffee on a rooftop overlooking the taj. since the place is closed on fridays, we took the bikes 2km down the road to one of the "finest preserved Mohgul fortresses." 

fort agra was pretty cool - big red sandstone looking fort that it is. built on a massive scale, a good portion of the joint is under archeological survey so no visitors allowed. we walked around the parts you could walk around and took some pictures but honestly, after dualatabad, it's kind of hard to be impressed by a fort. we biked back, ate more, slept more, woke up, ate more, and finished the night with coffee and beer on another rooftop cafe. 

today we woke up bright and early, drank more coffee on another roof, and headed over to the south gate of the Taj. what can be said about the Taj Mahal? 

from a distance, it looks like a postcard. in terms of scale it's not all that impressive. it's very crowded. all that taken into account, it's still immensely beautiful. the whole complex is a never ending funeral, a testament to love after death. the calligraphy and floral inlay on every surface creates a dizzying effect when you're next to the building itself. the cleanliness, the openness, the sparse spaces placed between incredible complexity ... the contrast of the building is what makes it memorable. it rises from nothing in wild flowing shapes, tapers at the top and joins the sky. the floor is immaculate white marble, the walls a psychedelic flower collage of precious stone, the archways slashed with calligraphy and interspersed between this: pure white stone and honey-combed pattern windows. 

it's an odd place to be and to write about. how many things have been said about the place already? how many people have seen it? it seems trite to talk about it. it was an impressive place to be but i wonder how well i will remember my time there. an oversaturation of images and words makes an experience of it seem cheaper than expected. quite frankly, i was more impressed by Ajanta. to each their own, i say, and a nonetheless stellar monument.

for the rest of the day, it's internet, food, another coffee on the roof no doubt, and then the night train to veranasi, holiest city in hinduism. i swear on vishnu there are photos coming and lots of them. in the meantime, i understand eliot has posted a bunch, so enjoy those. 

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