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Day 5: The road to Agra

Agra Travel Blog

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The Gandhi memorial

After spending only 4 days in Delhi, we all had seen and experienced too many things to remember and we were all wondering what we would see in Agra, where we would stay for the weekend. I had already packed my bags after breakfast, so I went outside to find some food and water for our trip. I was still a bit sleepy, so I hadn't really prepared my mind for the heat and the beggars that would be waiting outside our hotel, but as soon as I stepped out of the door, they both brought me back to reality. Accompanied by a few women who were asking me for money I walked to a nearby shop and bought some water and three bags of chips, before I returned to the coolness of our hotel.

An Indian highway
When everybody was present we all boarded the bus and started our long drive from Delhi to Agra.

We would stop a few times during our trip and our first stop was the Gandhi memorial, which was in Delhi. When we got out we walked into a quiet garden and were heading in the wrong direction, but a friendly soldier with a big machine gun pointed us in the right direction for the memorial. We had to remove our shoes before we went inside the memorial, but there were carpets on the stones to protect your feet from burning them. Inside the memorial was a large garden with several quotes from Gandhi hanging around the walls. In the center there was a piece of black marble with a flame on top of it. Some people were praying at the memorial. I didn't know a lot about Gandhi at that time, so when we left I bought a book about his life and ideas to read on the way to Agra.

The Lotus Temple
I started reading as soon as I got on the bus, but we soon made our second stop at the Lotus temple.

The Lotus temple was completed in 1986 and it is a house of worship for the Baha'i-religion, who believe that there is one God and that all religions are the same. Because of this belief they welcome people from every religion to pray to their God inside the temple. The temple itself is shaped like a lotus flower and it is situated on a small hill inside a garden. Before we were allowed inside a women from the Baha'i asked us to turn off our telephones and be silent inside the temple. Inside it was very quiet (this was not very surprising as everybody was asked to keep their mouth shut inside, but still it felt very different from outside) and everybody from our group took a seat to sit and think or pray.

A city in the distance
I'm not a religious person, so I just thought, but I still enjoyed the atmosphere inside the temple for a while. When I went outside two Indian kids wanted to take a picture with me, but they wanted me to stand besides the path of carpets and I didn't have my shoes on. It was very difficult to stand still, smile at the camera and at the same time try to prevent my feet from burning on the hot stones, but I managed to do it without too much pain.

Back in the bus, Dennis was the last person to enter, so he had to sing a song. Fortunately for us, he told a story instead. As we drove on and finally left Delhi, I began reading about Gandhi again. One of the things that he had written was that all religions were manifestations of the same God, but that all religions had imperfections in them, because they were communicated to us by imperfect humans.

The fort
He also wrote that it is not a sign of weakness to fight without violence against an oppressor, but that it takes a lot of courage and eventually is more powerfull than using violence. We drove around some small towns on the outskirts of Delhi and stopped again at a fort outside the city whose name I have forgotten, but it was something Indian. We stopped there for about one hour and as we walked inside the fort, a guide followed us and explained to us what we saw. By now I was well adjusted to the heat in India, which made me feel relaxed. The fort used to be part of an ancient Mughal city (those guys just couldn't decide where to build their capital and stay there, because during my trip, I visited 4 different forts around Delhi and Agra that had once been the seat of power for the Mughals!) and on top of the walls we had a spectacular view of Delhi and the plains on the other side.
Delhi skyline with the Lotus temple on the right

After our visit to the fort I payed the guide and we drove on again. This time we stayed inside the bus for a long time. Most people were sleeping, but I didn't want to miss a thing of the country outside. The countryside between Delhi and Agra turned out to be quite similar to the countryside in some parts of Holland, although the grass looked more yellow than the green in our country. I was surprised to see a lot of trees outside and as we drove on, I saw people working on the fields and large chimneys in the distance that were probably used to make pottery or bricks. We passed a few towns along the way, where children were waving at our bus or people were trying to sell hats whenever we stopped. Somewhere along the way I suddenly saw a huge hindu statue in the middle of a field and I managed to take a picture of it before we passed it.

a statue of some Hindu deity
We stopped once more at a modern restaurant and drove on to a town near Agra to visit a Hindu temple and mosque.

I don't remember the name of the town or the temple, but it was in the beginning of the evening when we left our bus and walked to the temple. The streets were dirtier than the streets I had seen in Delhi and there were a lot of cows and dogs walking on the streets. At the temple there were a lot of security guards and everybody was checked before we were allowed in. This was because the site was a holy place for both hindus, who believed it was the birthplace of Krishna, and muslims and there had been several terrorist attacks on the temple and the mosque, who were built right next to each other. I took of my shoes for the third time that day and walked around.

Children playing cricket
There were several buildings inside the complex. In one building there was a small statue of krishna which was covered in flowers. In the main building of the complex there were hindus praying, but the sound of their chanting was drowned by the sound of almost fifty fans spinning fast on the roof of the temple.

It was dark when we finally arrived in Agra after a long day on the road. While we were driving around Casper saw an elephant on the road and he told the rest. We also passed several processions on the streets with bright lights, loud music and people dancing between the lamps, which were held by people on their heads and who were connected with wires to a truck with a generator on it. Sanne told us that this was probably because the 'wedding season' had started and these processions were for people getting married.

An Indian town along the road
We arrived at our hotel and waited for Thijs to check our reservations with our guide, mr. Singh. The hotel turned out to be much more luxurious than our hotel in Delhi. I shared a room with Edo and Casper again and after we had unpacked some of our stuff and tested the toilet (it worked well) we went to the restaurant to have a late dinner with the entire group. We had a soup and a buffet, which tasted well. I hadn't eaten anything that day, because I was still having trouble with my stomach and we had been on the road the entire day. After our dinner we went to the bar of the hotel, where I ordered wodka to see if this worked better for my stomach than beer. The bar closed early so we went to the hotel lobby and played some card games. Later that night, the wedding party which had been going on in the hotel garden by the pool, arrived in the lobby. The family of the bride said goodbye to their relative, who was probably going away to live with her new family. Everybody at the wedding looked very sad that she was leaving.

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The Gandhi memorial
The Gandhi memorial
An Indian highway
An Indian highway
The Lotus Temple
The Lotus Temple
A city in the distance
A city in the distance
The fort
The fort
Delhi skyline with the Lotus templ…
Delhi skyline with the Lotus temp…
a statue of some Hindu deity
a statue of some Hindu deity
Children playing cricket
Children playing cricket
An Indian town along the road
An Indian town along the road
Agra
photo by: rotorhead85