Our next stop on the way to Jaipur was a rug cooperative in Agra, which was fascinating. On the main floor we saw people actually knotting the rugs.
Apart from admiring their skill, I could only think of the strain on their eyes and especially on their legs, sitting at an angle like that.
Then we went downstairs, where a world of carpets awaited us. I had not realized that we would then spend hours buying carpets! But who am I to talk, since I bought one, too. There’s a story, of course. The original was in the Taj Mahal and now lives at the Met in New York. This shop has exclusive rights to reproduce the rug, only 60 copies (I think) in two sizes. (Another blogger bought this, too, by the way, not long before before I did, apparently…) I looked it up later, and there it is in their collection, though not on display currently.
There was lots of bonding during this experience, from falling into the piles of wool to discussing possible purchases with each other. I think that most of us bought at least one rug, and several bought multiples. These are savvy shoppers! But it took forever and we did not get on the road until close to 1:00.
But first, a visit to the Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (check another off the list!), and the home of the Mughal emperors until 1638. Built (or rebuilt) of red sandstone, it was more like a city than merely a fort. The Indian military still uses part of it.
Some lovely architectural details:
We had been scheduled to visit a step well, but we were obviously way out of time, and there’s another one on our itinerary in Jaipur. So we hit the road and enjoyed a late lunch at a lovely garden spot (visiting the small gift shop where I bought an Indian edition of Kipling’s short stories). Finally, the long trip to Jaipur. We arrived at 8:00 just in time for an elegant dinner at our hotel, including this welcome laid out in marigolds, this delectable dessert, and music. The musicians kindly invited me to sit down and join them, so I did, strumming the stringed instrument with more enthusiasm than skill. We also met everyone, very important, but, typically for me, I have no pictures of the group. But more to come later.