India Trip - Day Eleven - Agra
January 27, 2008
After an uncomfortable journey on the train we finally arrive at Agra, the station is very busy and we finally get out and take auto rickshaws to our hotel. Surprisingly the back seats come down in them to reveal a small boot area, I did not know they did that!The hotel we are staying at is the Sheela Inn Hotel, about 400 yards from the Taj Mahal.
As soon as we arrive we have an hour to freshen up before going to the Taj Mahal. I have breakfast on the top floor, if it was warmer I would have it on the rooftop with a view of the Taj, but it is too cold.
We get cycle rickshaws to the monument ans as we approach the outside of the building we are surrounded by hawkers trying to sell there tat.
We pass through tight security before we get into the outer courtyard we then walk through the archway to get our first clear view of the building. All I could think is WOW! After seeing it on TV and in so many books I was actually here looking at it with my own eyes. This was the highlight of the trip so far. A man then came up to me and told me I needed to pay 25 rupees to film the building and even then I could not take it any further than the step outside the archway.
I pay the money and walk through. I do all the standard things like stare, take pictures, shoot some video, and take some more pictures.
I then make my way towards the building stopping every few yards to take another picture. Then a guy comes over to me with a whistle and points out a few places for me to stand to get the best shots, to be honest, I could pick better spots but I oblige. As I walk away he says “pay,pay!” I tell him to piss off as I am not paying for him to point to the ground and me take a picture, he does not follow me.
When I get to the mausoleum part I have to put covers on my shoes to cover them so it does not damage the marble on the ground, I then ascend to the balcony level.
I walk around a bit and then go inside, I have to admit this was a bit of an anti-climax as for all the grandeur outside I was expecting amazing things inside, but it was a large empty room except for a sarcophagus in the centre, which you walk around. The ceiling is just the inside of the dome and that is about it.
I go back outside and walk all the way around the building and take a lot more photographs.
There are two mosques each side of the Taj which I have never seen before on photographs so I go and explore them.
I then make my way to the exit and meet up with the rest of the group.
We then get cycle rickshaws back to the hotel and have lunch on the roof terrace overlooking the Taj Mahal.
After lunch we head over to the Agra Fort by cycle rickshaw.
The building is very imposing from the outside and it is made of red sandstone.
Anuj hands us over to an official guide called Mr. Singh who shows us around. Inside is big courtyards and a number of different Palaces as well as a load of monkeys.
We spend about an hour walking around before leaving to have a tour of a carpet factory.
To be honest I am not really into carpets so it was a bit of a waste of time I thought. They showed us each stage of the carpets creation from design, construction, cleaning and cutting before taking us o their showroom to try and sell us them. Iain and Helena did but they are the only ones. It was quite funny as all the sales men would come from nowhere in the end I counted nine, each of them unrolling numerous rugs onto the floor.
After this we went back to the hotel and I had a shower which was freezing as there was no hot water, it was over very quickly!
We then went for dinner with another Intrepid group to quite an expensive restaurant some of our group followed the meal with dancing on the small disco area.