Details of the Taj Mahal

Art. Architecture. Music. When we describe artistic creations, the two-dimensionally of words and photos can’t convey the depth we feel. I’m not really one to be star-struck by celebrities, but in the presence of great works I have wobbly knees. I just didn’t expect the Taj Mahal to hit me that way.

Built in 1648 AD, it’s been called, “Sheer poetry in Marble.” The Taj Mahal was constructed as a mausoleum for Mumtaz Mahal by her husband the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

Can you image a full day of holding your finger tips to that hand-powered grinding wheel?  More than 28 different gems and semi-precious stones create the scrolling flower motifs covering the walls.

Perhaps there are two ways that you might experience its grandeur: seeing minutia and imagining the scale. While there is a lot that could be said about the artistry of the tomb, a closer look at the marble inlay speaks volumes.

The craftsmen show above are in one of the many furniture shops in Agra. Here they are cutting, grinding and placing fragments of semi-precious stones. Some 20,000 workmen were employed daily at the building. It took 22 years to complete Mumtaz’s tomb. Details and quote from

We signed up for a sunrise tour. So after a plane trip, crazy car ride (another story for sure) and late night, we were up before dawn to arrive at the Taj Mahal. There is a lot of walking through ticket booths, gates and grounds before you see the Taj. When we first saw her from the distance it was the scale that was overwhelming. Can you picture yourself standing at the entryway or sitting on the steps?

Portuguese influence in Goa, India

On May 20, 1498 Vasco da Gama became the first person to sail from Europe to Asia around the Cape of Good Hope — establishing an ocean spice route. He landed just south of Goa in Calicut, India. Here are some of the Portuguese influences from centuries ago.

The Basilica Bom Jesus in Old Goa built in 1605. It contains the remains of Saint Francis Xavier. You can see his body in the tomb below.

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We’re Celebrities

OurPhotosNow that we’ve obtained celebrity status, we just might not be coming home. Just kidding Mom and Dad!

I’m not sure why people stared at us more openly in Goa than in Bangalore (where we still stand out in a crowd), but in Goa, lots of people stopped and asked us where we were from and if they could take our photo. And as soon as one person asked, a flock of people started taking pics.



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On the Arabian Sea from Candolim to Calangute

Goa is a seaside Mecca for vacationers — newlyweds, families and many, many groups of young guys out seeing their country (one recent college grad we met spent 24-hours on a train with his buddies to get there). We visited during the off season when most foreigners weren’t around.


We saw one woman in a bathing costume, an old-fashion neck-to-knee suit with tutu ruffle and wide stripes. Everyone else went into the surf fully clothed. Lifeguards spent a lot of time whistling folks back up the shore. The monsoon season was whipping up the surf. We were told the Arabian Sea is normal flat.

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Lots of breakfast choices

Pongal, an Indian comfort food HowtomakePongal Breakfast includes a little of everything for European and Asian travelers. This kitchen was devoted to Indian fare. This morning I tasted Pongal, which was described as a breakfast comfort food — and also something you might eat if you weren’t feeling well. It reminded me of creamy grits with a mild Indian seasoning. Tasty! Many thanks for the chef who sizzled the grill to make the fun photo below.PongalIngredients for pongal: rice and yellow lentils, milk, ghee, ginger, cumin seed, peppercorn and curry leaves. Here is a link with a pongal recipe. This one has the addition of cashews.


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