The following day is one that I believe I can officially classify as my favorite day on the whole trip. We all wake up super early, 5:30 AM, because it is time to go visit the Taj Mahal! By waking up early, we wanted to miss both the large crowds and the insane heat, both of which we ended up experiencing anyway.
Once we arrived at the Taj, we were greeted by our tour guide for the day. He took us around the whole structure and explained the significance of each section of architectural genius. One interesting fact that I learned was that the Taj Mahal is completely symmetrical. Furthermore, there is a mosque on one side of the Taj Mahal. Since the structure is symmetrical, however, there is a congruent structure on the other side of the middle Taj building, but it is not used as a mosque, because it does not face Mecca. After this was explained to me, it truly sunk in how far away from home I was. India is so far from the United States that to face Mecca, you need to face West! Not East, such as in the USA! That was an amazing realization for me.
Now, the reason that this day was my favorite is not simply because of how beautiful the Taj Mahal is, even though the Taj definitely is one of the most beautiful examples of architecture I’ve ever seen. This day was instead my favorite part of the trip because, unbeknownst to us, it happened to be the last day of Ramadan, and our group was there during the Muslim call to prayer.
Around 9 AM, the call to prayer began from the mosque on the left side of the Taj Mahal. At this time, thousands of people started flooding to the mosque to pray, even more so because it was the final day of Ramadan. The sight of all of these people was absolutely amazing, I have never seen anything like it before in my life! I even had the opportunity to stand on top of the Taj Mahal to watch the huge crowds of people gather. Being granted the chance to see this whole occurrence of the call to prayer at the Taj Mahal from start to finish was definitely the main reason that this was my favorite part of the trip.
After we finished exploring the Taj for a few hours, we left to make our way back to the hotel. I had to fight my way through many children trying to sell me Taj Mahal merchandise, while also giving in to a few, but finally I made it back on the bus. Once we arrived at the hotel we ate breakfast and napped, then left once more for the city of Bharatpur.
In Bharatpur we stayed at a palace-hotel called the Laxmi Villas Palace. It was extremely beautiful, and it even had a pool! We all swam for a while, and then went on a walk around the village. The village was made of mostly dirt roads, where there were many fruits and vegetable stands and many people drove mopeds.
Once the group was tired out from walking, we went back to our palace and ate a delicious and fancy dinner. It was dark after dinner and everyone else went to bed, but instead of going to sleep I met up with my friend Sophie from our group and did some exploring. We managed to find ourselves in the construction area of a new building that was currently being built, in the pool, and also on the roof of the palace. It was so much fun to explore and a great bonding time.
After exploring was over, however, I was so tired. I showered and immediately fell asleep. After an amazing day, it was great to lay down and get ready for whatever new adventures tomorrow would bring.