Both my parents grew up in India, so I've grown up hearing about it constantly. My Mum and Dad traveled a lot so I've heard about all sorts of places that I have wanted to visit myself one day - but sometimes when I've visited a place it doesn't quite lived up to my imagination. It's all too easy to get wrapped up in a movie or a book's interpretation of a place, and then be let down by a rather harsh reality.
India has been an exception though, it's everything I ever imagined and more. Even the Taj Mahal was better in reality than I ever thought it would be. I'm not usually blown away by buildings, I'm often more in awe of nature than anything made by people, but the Taj was something else.
It was especially interesting to visit a shop and see craftsmen creating the traditional inlay patterns that make up the decorations all over the building.
We stayed at the Taj all through the sunset, just wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere. When darkness finally came we were shunted out by cranky security guards, and spent some time chatting to the many shop owners hanging about outside the gates.
It was such a lovely and warm evening with a beautiful sunset. Something about the enormity of it all, the fact that it's a monument dedicated to love, left me feeling very calm and relaxed - I wonder if that's the building's intention...