Monday morning we are ready to check out of our hotel in Jaipur and travel to Agra in our bright orange tourist bus.  The road to Agra takes us through a more agricultural part of India. From the road we can see fields of mustard, a plant grown to be processed into cooking oil. There are also some brickyards, where clay bricks are formed and baked hard in kilns, and stone carving shops- all of which are industries of this area. After about four hours we arrive at Fatehpur Sikri, an abandoned city built out of red sandstone by Akbar the Great, one of the Mughal emperors.  After he spent a lot of time and money building a whole palace complex including a large mosque, there wasn’t enough water to support it so the whole place was abandoned. We explored the ruins on our own and tried to fend off the vendors as we entered and exited- not very successfully in most cases.  Then on to Agra to check into our last hotel.

Tuesday morning we get up early because this group wants to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise- one of the best times for great photos.  We manage to be one of the first groups in line when it opens and it’s beauty does not disappoint. We have perfect clear blue skies and the white marble glows in the early morning sunlight.  The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan another of the Mughal emperors in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz.  The intricacy of the stone carving and inlaid semi precious stones in floral and geometric designs is beautiful.

After a breakfast brunch at our hotel we continue our Agra tour at the Agra Fort–a huge castle-like complex built by the Mughals complete with a moat that used to have alligators in it and a second moat which our guide tells us used to have lions and tigers in it.  At any rate the fort was a good way to finish our tour of the sights of Agra.

Below is our group exploring Fatehpur Sikri

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Just after sunrise at the Taj Mahal

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Kari, Stephanie, and Anne at the Agra Fort

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Henna hands and arms on Kari, Stephanie and Anne.

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Jeff and Bret making some last day purchases

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