Agra, India

December 29, 2002

Weather: high of about 75ºF and hazy

Agra was once the seat of the Moghul empire. Didn't I already say that about Delhi and Fatehpur Sikri? Well yes, those Moghuls moved their capitals around a lot. Also on the list of former capitals are Lahore (now in Pakistan) and at least one other city that I can't remember.

Ahh, the tourist photo in front of the Taj. Our guide does a pretty good job of it.
Off to one side of the Taj is a pollution monitoring station. The city of Agra has set up a no pollution zone about a kilometer around the Taj Mahal, but I don't know how anything other than 200 acres of forest is going to make a dent in the Indian smog. This sign says today the levels of sulphur dioxide are within tolerance as are the levels of nitrous oxide, but levels of general particulate matter are off the charts.
Our guide says the Taj isn't as crowded as it sometimes is. Still it is breathtaking how many people visit the Taj everyday, except Fridays when it is only open to Muslims for prayer.
Our next stop is the Agra Red Fort. We should compare it to the Red Fort of Delhi, but we were advised not to waste our time on the Delhi fort if we were going to see the Agra fort. It is definitely impressive and brings back all sorts of Dungeon and Dragon memories. I would have paid a lot for the floor plan of this fort when I was a dungeon master in high school.
I also have to wonder if the movie Baron von Munchhausen was filmed here. It is so much larger than life.
This fort is one of the products of the height of the Moghul empire and it is hard to imagine it being breached and sacked. But it was.
I would love to see an artist's rendering of what some of the palace grounds inside the fort would have looked like in its heyday. The bare bones of the fort are already spectacular, but with carpets and rose water and musicians and eunuchs, wow.
This room was once painted with gold leaf, but only the shadow remains after the gold has been looted.

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