India

So far India has been my least favorite country to date. It was so incredibly hot while we where there. You were immediately exhausted the moment you stepped outside. We would go out for about 2 or 3 hours then come back and shower and try to cool down and drink all the water we could. All you wanted to do was stay inside in the air conditioning. It was so hot I almost passed out inside the Taj Mahal.

New Delhi was also full of people and cars. It was difficult to get anywhere...walking or riding. We also saw so much poverty. We have been to plenty of areas where there was poverty but this was on a whole different level. It was so hard to see small children naked begging in the street knocking on car windows while their parents watched from the corner. I had the worse time with it. 

Maybe I didn't give India a fair shake.  Here are a few of the things I did enjoy:

1. Naan- We ate ALL the naan....with every meal. Plain or covered in garlic and butter. It is one of the most amazing breads out there. For those of you that don't know it is a thin chewy bread cooking in clay pot called a tandoor oven. It is beyond delichious. 

2. Taj Mahal - We rented a driver for the day and headed off to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.   For those of you that don't know the  Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum in Agra, India. It was built in the 1600's by an Emperor for his favorite wife (Yes, favorite. He had three wives).

Everyone has seen pictures of the Taj Mahal.  To me all I have ever seen was a big white building. While I was excited to see it in person, I had low expectations. Boy was I dead wrong. When you first arrive you walk through the main entrance seen below. Sidenote everywhere we go there is scaffolding on  the buildings. Everything is being worked on around the world. This was no exception. 

If you look closely it looks like there are flowers painted on the arch of the entrance. 

After closer inspection it is in fact flowers but they are not painted on. These flowers are made up of semi precious gemstones shaped to make this design. The black design is made from onyx. It is beyond gorgeous. 

Once you pass through the entrance you are greeted with the popular view as shown below. It is so hard to get a picture as there are people everywhere trying to get the same shot. ill looks like a big white building, right? 

Now that we are standing in front of it I know why everyone is so impressed by it. It is beautiful. It is massive and perfectly made. From here you can even see the same flowers made with the semi precious gemstones. 

On closer inspection the whole facade of the Taj Mahal is covered in these little flowers and onyx inscriptions. The time it must of taken to make each one of these flowers is crazy. 

The inside is equally beautiful. Below is a close up picture of the walls inside the mausoleum. The place was just amazing. It is by far one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. 

After the Taj Mahal we went into the town to see the dying art of this gemstone "painting." We visited with a few men who are learning the craft. This art is passed down generation to generation however, it is dying as the younger generations are wanting to get more business like careers. How these men don't shave their fingers off is beyond me. 

3. Lotus Temple - The Lotus Temple (Bahai faith) in New Delhi was probably one of the more interesting religious establishments we have visited. The Bahai faith is a world religion whose purpose is to unite all races and peoples in one universal cause and one common faith. When you enter the temple you are told to worship and pray within your religion. It is used for anyone and everyone to participate. 

The building itself is pretty amazing. The building is made up of 27 free-standing marble petals arranged in clusters. 

4. Humayun’s Tomb - The mausoleum that inspired the Taj Mahal. Just comparing the two pictures you can see the similarities. This one however was created by the wife of Emperor Humayun and built in the 1500's.  Not nearly as flashy as the Taj Mahal but equally beautiful. 

5. Red Fort - The Red Fort was the main home of the Emperor during the 1600 and 1700's. The buildings are surrounded by a very large wall. The wall was used as a defensive measure. Inside is 200 plus acres of residence, churches, meeting places. I guess you can say it is fit for an Emperor. 

To see more pictures from these sites and a few others check out our galleries page!