The next time you get someone to share his contemplations on the Taj Mahal ("Afternoon of Mourning at Agra's Fabled Taj Mahal," May 16), please get someone who is not suffering from depression. Ed Kennedy's lack of wonder, clearly exacerbated by the culture shock he was experiencing, did not offer us a "glimpse of India's soul," as the headline indicated, so much as it did a glimpse of his own clouded mood of the moment. Calling the Taj a "lovely building" is like calling the Grand Canyon a "nice large valley." All one has to do is clearly open one's eyes to appreciate the Taj in and of itself--no need to look for hidden meanings or motivations. It is far and away the single most captivating and truly awesome structure that I have ever had the good fortune to gaze upon and meditate in.
This is in response to Ed Kennedy, who states that no one knows who designed the Taj Mahal. According to Bikram Grewal, author of a book I obtained in Agra, the design is attributed to that of a team, including: Venetian goldsmith Geronimo Veroneo, Ustad Isa, a Turk and Ustad Ahmad Lahori.
Other master craftsmen worked on specific assignments. All followed a model and master plan approved by Emperor Shah Jahan and said to represent a perfect synthesis of Hindu and Muslim artistic expression.
I was pleased to read the article on Howrah Bridge "Meeting Life's Ebb and Flow on Calcutta's Howrah Bridge," May 16. Howrah Bridge rush hour was my introduction to undeservedly maligned Calcutta. It is one of the great sights of India and the author does a good job of describing it. It is refreshing to find something in the Travel section that can't be viewed comfortably from a tour bus. I hope for more of the same.
Falling for Yosemite
The article on Yosemite ("Year of the Waterfall," May 9) was very well done. However, some further information on getting there is warranted. The story did not mention going by train and bus. There are four daily bus-train combination trips between Los Angeles' Union Station and Fresno. The Amtrak bus travels between Los Angeles and Bakersfield and connects with the Amtrak train between Bakersfield and Fresno. The round-trip fare begins at $45. Greyhound buses also make the trip and start at $33, round-trip.
Your waterfalls list overlooked several beautiful places in Yosemite National Park, but outside the Yosemite Valley. Hetch Hetchy, the other Yosemite, though dammed by San Francisco for power generation and water storage, is home to many stunning waterfalls, of which at least three belong on your list:
* Wapama Falls cascades 1,600 feet down a 70 degree slope producing a tremendous roar and an enormous amount of spray.
* Tueeulala drops 1,200 feet and disappears into a rock-strewn slope.
* Rancheria, the cream of Hetch Hetchy, drops more than 1,800 feet. It starts in a 50 foot wide canyon losing elevation in a series of giant steps. Then, interrupted by a granite dome, it spreads into a 300-foot wide sheet flow. After the interruption, the falls resume with one climatic step to the reservoir.
Although these waterfalls are upstream of the dam, they can be reached by a National Park Service trail. Fall watchers will find the valley delightfully empty of the distractions that lessen the pleasures of Yosemite Valley. One hour of walking will bring the watcher to the deafening roar of Wapama Falls. A further two hours will bring them to the wondrous sight of Rancheria Falls.
On May 1, my husband and I set sail on Princess Cruise's Pacific Princess from Southampton, England. The next day, on a tour of Normandy beaches, outside of the War Museum in Bayeux, my husband fell and broke his hip and was transported by ambulance to a hospital in Bayeux. He received a hip replacement and remained in the hospital five days. During that time, two Princess Cruise Lines employees came twice to meet with me. They made arrangements for an ambulance to take my husband and me to Paris for the plane ride home. They paid the hospital bill, the hotel bill and for air fare home. They will bill the medical insurance company and I will, of course, have to reimburse them for the other expenses. But I have only praise for the cruise line employees who assisted me in my time of need.
A Case for Carrying
Thanks for your article on courier flights ("Message is the Medium for Discount Air Fares," May 23). I have used courier service to Southeast Asia seven times in the past three years. I have spent Christmas stranded in Singapore, sleeping on the airport floor. I have also been upgraded free to business class on flights to Tokyo and Bangkok. Just as courier services have a list of unreliable couriers they will not use, I now know which services to avoid.
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