Robin's Adventures

Adventures in the Asian Subcontinent

Interesting Birds at the Taj

In addition to the monkeys, there were many interesting birds at the Taj Mahal. We saw Rose-ringed Parakeets, Egyptian vultures, flocks of Black Kites that were always circling overhead, an Indian Spotted Eagle, and a large number of waterbirds, including the Eurasian Spoonbill, hanging out in the Yamuna River.

Inlayed Mosaics

The process of inlaying designs made of precious stones into marble is still carried out in Agra today just as it was during the building of the Taj Mahal in the mid 17th century.

First a design is cut out in a brass sheet. The sheet is placed on top of a marble surface so the design can be drawn and then carved out.

Thin slices of semi-precious stones are cut, shaped, and polished. The stones are then laid into the marble and attached with a special putty-type adhesive. After the adhesive dries, the object is polished.

Agra's Red Fort

The Red Fort of Agra was built, between 1565 and 1573, on the ruins of a previous fort by emperor Akbar. Shah Jahan, Akbar's grandson, made additional changes to the fort and built elaborate palaces and other structures inside the walled fortress.

The fort was designed with double 65 foot tall walls and a moat filled with crocodiles.

More of Agra's Red Fort

Three different Mughal emperors ruled from within the walls of this fort before moving the capital to Delhi.

Most of the beautiful marble residences and meeting halls where the king held audiences were built by Shah Jahan, the same emperor who built the Taj Mahal. This emperor, however, was imprisoned at the Red Fort during the last eight years of his life by his son Aurangzeb when the son took power and became the new emperor.

Even More Red Fort

In the Hall of Private Audience at the Red Fort there is a small hole that goes through the wall just above one of the arches. A rose-ringed parakeet has taken over that hole and has nested there for several years.

The hole was made by a cannonball in 1803 that was fired by the British East India Company. The cannonball initially struck a large black onyx throne, occupied by King Akbar, caused a superficial crack in the throne, and then bounced up to make a hole completely through the marble wall.

Baby Taj

The tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah, also sometimes called the Baby Taj, was built in 1622. The structure was built using white marble with inlayed designs made from semi-precious gems. Inside there are some intricately carved white marble jali screens. Many of the building techniques used here were later used at the Taj Mahal.

Trash Disposal

While walking through one section of Agra we came upon a small building that was enclosed only on three sides so that trucks could pull up to the open side and drop things off.

The thing being dropped off, however, was garbage. Inside the building were a group of pigs and dogs that were picking through the garbage and eating things that appealed to them.

Seen About Town

As we traveled by car from Agra to Delhi, we passed through some small towns and were able to observe people going about their day-to-day business. Here are some of the slices of life we captured along the way.

On the Road Again

As we traveled by car from Agra to Delhi, which was about a three hour journey, we noticed many interesting conveyances along the road.

An interesting Indian custom that we noticed along the highways is that the trucks are all lavishly decorated. Many are painted with elaborate designs and most have garlands of black tassels, which are designed to ward off evil spirits. Based on the chaotic traffic conditions that abound on Indian roads, a little help fending off evil couldn't hurt.

Next Stop: Delhi

When we arrived in Delhi, following our three hour journey by car, we stayed at the Imperial Hotel.