Based on palace, castle, mausoleum and occasional temple visits in Jaipur and Agra between 15th and 18th July
How many miraculous feats of architectural excellence, and unwavering devotion can you see in 2 weeks? Well, if you happen to be in the Golden Triangle of Northern India it is possible to become numb to it. The sheer detail, quantity and scale can tempt the sightseer to become blasé.
The palace tours (according to our various guides) tended to revolve around a central theme – Maharanis (Warrior Kings) and Maharajas (Ruling Kings) dedicating large portions of the palaces to the accommodation of their wives (yes, plural) and courtesans (very plural), so that their brows (and possibly other parts) could be soothed while resting from affairs of war or state. With each new palace/castle the numbers would increase, peaking at around 800 (This did not sit comfortably with the well educating, western orientated women who made up the majority of our touring group).
What became obvious as the tour went on was that the quality, artistry, architecture and opulence of these buildings was at the pinnacle of what was being achieved in the world at the time.
The Taj Mahal is not the most original of tourist destinations. We dragged ourselves up at an ungodly hour, so that we could be first in the queue, when the gates opened at 6.00am. Bleary eyed we staggered through security, but we were rewarded.
The optimistic version of the weather forecast had come into effect, and the crowds celebrating Eid would arrive later, so the whole place had a better than hoped for serenity.
Even the monkeys were relaxed, spending some quality time together, and feeding from lime trees growing in the perfectly manicured grounds.
Later on in the day we visited the Mini Taj, which was created before the Taj Mahal. We were wondering whether it might be a disappointment, but after getting lost in the patterns adorning the structure, we came away satisfied.
The patterns incorporate symbols from the span of religious influence in India. The artifacts demonstrate that, though dynasties may rise and fall, there is beauty and longevity in diversity.