Agra – Taj Mahal and Diwali

The 30th October was the day we went to the Taj Mahal, memorable for that as well as being Diwali and most importantly my mum’s birthday!

It was an early start, we left the hotel around 4 in the morning to get to the head of the queue before sunrise. Although the entry was chaotic we did end up being some of the first in. The morning haze (smog) did make the building appear very mystical. There was a queue for the ‘Diana chair’ and people trying hard to recreate that lonely, desolate appearance while surrounded by dozens of others. 

The Taj Mahal is beautiful inside and out. From a teachers point of view it was interesting to discover it is also completely symmetrical! The towers on each side are a necessary part in adding to the majesty of the building and they each lean the same angle away from it so as to avoid any further destruction if there was an earthquake. It’s actually a smaller building than you expect, much smaller than most churches. 

We were told the cost of building the Taj was the equivalent of £88 billion today. An unbelievable figure and goes some way to explaining why the son of the man who built it imprisoned him in a palace for the last years of his life to stop him building another similar monument. 

Diwali was an experience! Our guide collected some money from us to buy some ‘bombs’ as he called the fireworks. We all nervously contributed as we wondered how and where we were going to set them off. The answer was that we were going to a restaurant for a meal that evening and they were happy for us to set them off before the meal. Of course the restaurant was on the main road so we all stood outside in the dark with traffic roaring past, cows meandering around, joined from somewhere by several drummers and a snake charmer. All the firework safety adverts I had seen and lessons I had taught running through my head suddenly seemed completely useless as none had contained what to do when a snake charmer is encouraging you to light a firework with a sparkler!

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