Taj Mahal & Her Baby Sister

[S02E17] The Taj was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and the whole complex was completed in 1653. It is a mausoleum using Persian, Turkish and Indian styles of architecture. The building needs no introduction, it’s one of the most visited tourist sites in the world. If you decide to go there, do what we did and get up really early!

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Snobs In Fatehpur Sikri

[S02E16] Fatehpur Sikri consists of two areas: The huge Jama Masjid, the second largest mosque in India, and the Palace of Akbar. For a short while Akbar made Fatehpur Sikri the capital of his empire. He spent 15 years building the mosque, the palace, harems, courts, water features and other buildings and drew his influences from Persia. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is not to be missed, but if you can’t make it, then listen to this week’s podcast to get a great idea of what the fuss is all about.

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The Best Train Set In The World?

The sound of the hissing steam and shrill horn transported me to Britain in the 50s, The Railway Children, Murder on the Orient Express, Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, the railways that built America, George Stevenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Sometimes we were so close to the shops hewn out of the rock along Hill Cart Road I could have easily removed a speck of dust from the eye of a passing housewife, or handed a letter to a family of children.

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Fatehpur Sikri: City of Victory

Cliché or no cliché, Akbar’s ‘City of Victory’ really does “rise majestically” from a barren rocky plateau. Referring back to my note book, before writing up this visit, I found a string of exclamations: “The scale! Location and position! Extraordinary! Fabulously well-maintained! Power! More palace than fort!” An extraordinary place…

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Jantar Mantar and the Pink City Beggars

We’d only been in Jaipur a day and a night and already we’d witnessed some police brutality, so we thought we’d balance it with a bit of civilised culture. Cue one UNESCO World Heritage site and a huge palace-cum-fort. After visiting these incredible places, however, we thought we’d get back to reality with some interaction with beggars, street-dwellers and kids rummaging through piles of rubbish. Just to remind ourselves of this diverse city we’re in before leaving for the Taj.

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