This morning we got up at 7:00am ready for our day in Agra. The journey was a four-hour drive along a newly-built dual-carriageway although we were unsure whether we would be able to see the Taj Mahal due to the thick mist that hung in the air. Luckily by the time we reached the city the sun had burnt through the mist and a blue sky was on the horizon. We were greeted by our tour guide Amrish, a local who was brought up in the city. Our first stop was the magnificent Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world. Our guide told us the story of its origins and led us around supplying us with interesting facts along the way. In order to preserve the Indian marble of the Taj Mahal visitors are required to remove their shoes or wear covers over them. We all had our photos taken on the Diana bench located centrally to the monument.
Next we visited ‘Handicrafts Palace’ and were shown the process of inlay work, the ancient way of decorating marble with various kinds of semi-precious stones. This work is as old as the Taj Mahal and the Taj is decorated all over in this way with stones such as Malachite, Turquoise and Lapis Lazuli. The work was so beautiful and intricate and we learnt that it can take two men up to 20 days to make a circular piece with a diameter of 25cm.
Before we travelled back to Delhi we went to Kohimoor, a family-run jewellers to see some beautiful tapestries and jewellery. The tapestries contained jewels provided by the family and have since been given to them to preserve. Some of the pieces took 30 years to hand stitch by one artist.