click above on slide show for more pictures of Agra
May 17th – 20th, 1999 – New/Old Delhi to Agra – Traveling alone
I had a long day today. My private tour guide and driver picked me up at 9am …I felt like royalty… This was the best way to see the bustling city in a country you have never been before as a woman traveling alone and very affordable coming from the West. We went to the largest Mosque in all of India. You had to take your shoes off, and they had to provide me with a fabric to wrap around my legs since I was wearing shorts instead of my usual skirts which were all dirty. It was beautiful. We climbed to the towers of the Mosque … my thighs were hurting that night. They were very steep stairs and lots of them. From there we went to Red Fort, Delhi and walked around then we went to the parliament area of town where the president’s palace is. The font gates were open because the president was on his way back from somewhere so I got the see the president’s motorcade and the president himself was in one of the stretch, blacked out windows, black Mercedes. Then we drove around the wealthy parts of town where a lot of the diplomats live. We went to a fancy hotel to meet Lalita who was the woman that set my mother up on a trip in the past and worked with me on this trip. She treated me and Sanjay, my guide, to lunch it was very nice. What I love most about traveling is all the lovely people you meet all over the world.
After lunch we drove to the Lotus Temple which was closed because it is Monday. Oh Yeah before lunch we went to the Gandhi Museum to see where Gandhi was assassinated and some memorabilia about him. I enjoyed the energetic peace there. After the Lotus Temple we went to a Temple community where all different sects of Hindu temples were built – we mostly just took pictures from outside. From there we went shopping at the government run shopping centers which meant good prices at fixed rates. I got all my Christmas gifts done there for friends and family back home. After that I was exhausted. It was around 110 degrees today with bright sunshine
I got back to the Taj Palace Hotel around 5:30pm and the entire hotel was out of electricity and had been since 2pm…So I decided since it was dark inside, I would put my bathing suit on and go read by the pool. I did that for n hour then came up for a shower and to rearrange my bags. I ordered dinner in my room since there was only partial power restored.
May 18, 1999
Woke up at 4:45am and got ready to catch the train to Agra. Checked out and my driver and guide picked me up around 5:40am. I had a 6:15am train to catch. The guide got on the train with me and seated me next to a nice gentleman in his 50’s. The train left on time and the countryside was very beautiful…mostly farmlands the entire way. The gentleman that sat next to me was very nice. We talked the entire way to Agra. He is an airline engineer and we talked about his children and his career and his golf game. His wife is from Nepal they live in Bangor, South India. He was a very pleasant man it was nice sharing with him. Then my tour guide and driver picked me up at the train station and we went to check in at the Mughal Sheridan. Very Nice hotel. I cleaned up and put my stuff down and we went straight to the Taj Mahal. You can also see it from my hotel room. It was beautiful, breathtaking! A monument of Love! We were there about an hour I had a photographer take many pictures of me as you can hire them around the campus to support local business. From there we went to the Baby Taj Mahal a monument to one of the Queen’s parents. It was nice driving through the city and bridges. We went to a marble laying factory, tourist trap, but so nice to see the local artistry and marble sculptures as a sculptor of stone myself. Of course, I bought more gifts things were so beautiful you wanted to capture it in small tokens to bring home. Back to the hotel for lunch and a rest mid-day as it is so hot here my eyeballs are sweating. After the break we went to Agra’s Red Fort and could see the Taj from across the way. I could not stop taking pictures of the Taj Mahal thinking there was a way to capture its energy on film. After a tour of the Fort we went back to the Taj Mahal for sunset time…. It was the most magical energy I’ve felt…. I sat and meditated, prayed to release unwanted energy I was carrying and to leave it there and take with me the joy I felt in the presence of this outstanding energy. When the lighting was just right, I did pictures again with that photographer.
Back to the hotel I called Sashikala and met her and her husband for drinks… He is a mice man and they make a handsome couple. So great seeing her again outside of studying with her.
Tomorrow morning back to the Taj for sunrise…wondering if the energy can be beat from sunset tonight!
click on slide show above for Taj Mahal at Sunrise, Mid-day & Sunset
May 20, 1999 – 8:10am Thailand Time
Well I am finally on my way home after more than 51 days of traveling. I was up at 4am yesterday morning and haven’t really slept since…
I woke up from a dream I can’t recall and couldn’t get back to sleep. I had to be up around 5m anyway to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise, so I just got up. The Taj at Sunrise was truly magical I could have stayed there all day. I got more pictures taken by the local photographer’s who have been there for years doing this as a profession to feed their families…I felt like a princess it was so much fun it felt like a photo shoot. I sat and meditated and prayed for 20 minutes then 15 minutes more of my own photos. I was there over an hour…it was great. Then back to the hotel I laid down for 45 minutes but couldn’t sleep. Got up, ate breakfast, and met the guide to travel an hour out of Agra to the ‘Deserted City”. The countryside was nice mostly farmland again. The Deserted City was beautiful all in red sandstone – much like the Red Fort of Agra and Delhi. The architecture was amazing it felt like the ruins of ancient Greece, ancient anywhere. We walked around for about an hour it was very hot and took some great photos. Back to the car for the hour drive back. Just before we got to the hotel I asked if we could stop at a bookstore so I could get Shashikala’s book on Vaastu – The Penguin Guide to Vaastu “The Classical Indian Science of Architecture and Design”. They had one copy left. Back to the hotel… It was around noon. I tried to call Sashikala but there was no answer. We had said we would try to get together for lunch or something. I laid down but still could not fall asleep. Got up went to lunch, the pool for a bit than back to the room. Mid-day is not the day to site see in May in India. Sashikala called. I showered and got ready to leave as she said she had come through the lobby to say goodbye. As I was checking out, she came over. I told her I got the last copy of her book at the bookstore could she sign it for me. She signed it and we said our goodbyes. The driver picked me up around 6pm my train was at 6:35pm out of Agra and back to Delhi…Off we went. The train was a few minutes delayed. I found my seat on the one air conditioned car on the WHOLE train. It took over 3 hours. By this point I was running late for the airport. I did not want to miss that flight with the two connecting flights there after waiting it would be a mess. My tour guide Sanjay set me up and I said goodbye. I waited in customs line for what seemed like forever. Finally, I boarded my flight on Thai Air. It was nice. A little over 3 hours layover with more delays but there was no where to lye down and at this point after not getting much sleep I am exhausted. Oh well, Caught my next flight to Tokyo. I’m on it now with 3 more hours to go to get to JFK - NYC.
1:30am Japan time – I can’t wait to get home and take a hot bath.