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Agra Travel Blog

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Taj Mahal gate at sunrise

I got up early and walked over to the Taj Mahal for the sunrise.  It was breathtaking and I don't think the photos do it justice.  I was surprised how many people were there already at that time in the morning, but as I was leaving more people were already showing up so I think I got there at the right time.  You can't take photos inside, but it was nothing spectacular, just a tomb area with the pietra dura designs.   I really liked the intricacies of the scroll work and design all over the building. 

I then walked over to Agra Fort, a very large old complex with views of the Taj.  By the time I got there, it was already a hazy day so you could barely see the Taj in the distance.

Obligatory bench in front of the Taj pic
  I was very glad I'd seen it before the clouds rolled in.  Some of the areas of the fort were better preserved than others, but it was fun to see the green parrots and monkeys playing high up in the towers and sitting on precarious ledges.

I then went to check out of my hotel, but was locked out of my room!  Something happened with the key not working anymore.  There were six guys working on the door and they had to call a carpenter.  When they finally called me back in, the door was laying on the ground and they had clearly hacked the door down to get in.  At least I wasn't staying that night. 

I dropped my bags off at the train station to pick up later.  I then hopped a taxi to Fatehpur Sikri, a town 40 km from Agra.

Young boys who dance at the rest stop
  It was created by the Mughal emperor Akbar and was intended to be the perfect city.  It ended up being so far from a water source that the town was abandoned in 1585 and the emperor moved to Agra Fort.  Many of the buildings were in ruins but there were very green farmlands next to the complex which made it very pretty and peaceful.  I took a camel cart about to the ruins which was fun.   However, the touts here were constant, even worse than in Agra itself.  It was too bad, because the constant requests for money completely ruined the experience.  I just wanted to walk around in peace on my own, but "guides" kept coming up and refused to leave me alone despite repeated requests.  They then of course demanded money and I just laughed and told them I had no intention of paying them for ruining my solitary walk of the grounds.
Monkey sitting on very high ledge (can you see him?)
  After this the children were just as demanding with their requests for "pens, chocolate, ice cream, rupees" which just became a chant as they followed me all the way back to my taxi, despite the fact I kept telling them no and to go away.  It was so bad here that I would tell any other traveler that it is not worth the trip.  Many of the structures were similar to those found elsewhere and not as well preserved, it takes an hour to get there, and the constant harrassment combines to make it a place to skip.

My driver was funny coming out there and explained to me that "there are 3 compulsories to driving in India.  1.  Good horn, 2. Good brake, and 3. Good luck."  He was sick from flu or food poisoning, so at a rest stop we had to leave him there after he began vomiting when it was time to go.

Agra Fort's Khas Mahal
  His assistant drove to Fatehpur Sikri and the driver caught up to us by hitching a ride with a tour bus to the town, so it worked out okay. 

I took the Shatabdi train to Delhi that evening which is the nicest train since you sit in chairs and they provide a meal.   While waiting, I saw a large rat run out and back under a food stand in the station.  I pointed it out to the food stand employee who just shrugged unconcerned and said actually there were two rats.  A few minutes later, I saw them both come out and fight over some food.  Disgusting.

A child with one leg who was begging at the station came up to me while I was waiting for my late train.  In impeccable English (which makes me suspect he must be in school or being taught by an outreach group) he said "my father is deceased, my health (cough, cough) is failing--" at which point I called him out on his little act.

Another Taj pic
  (The cough was over the top).  He right away admitted it was all a story he made up and had a good laugh with me about it for seeing through it.  I was really puzzled as to why he felt the need to give me such a story when clearly he was disabled which was usually all that most beggars needed to get money.

My train got in very late so I took a rickshaw to Kuni's but could not find it.  After searching for over an hour, I finally just decided to check into a hotel for the night.  It was 3am at that point so I pretty much just stayed at the first place I found that was open, but it was in a very safe area guarded by police so it worked out fine.

glennisnz says:
I agree whole heartedly about the touts and the hawkers and beggars making a real nuisance of themselves, not just here but at every major touristy place, pretty soon you just don't notice them at all as you walk right through them, let alone give to them, they do spoil the enjoyment of being there.
Posted on: Feb 04, 2008
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Taj Mahal gate at sunrise
Taj Mahal gate at sunrise
Obligatory bench in front of the T…
Obligatory bench in front of the …
Young boys who dance at the rest s…
Young boys who dance at the rest …
Monkey sitting on very high ledge …
Monkey sitting on very high ledge…
Agra Forts Khas Mahal
Agra Fort's Khas Mahal
Another Taj pic
Another Taj pic
Taj Mahal at sunrise
Taj Mahal at sunrise
Taj Mahal reflected
Taj Mahal reflected
Detail of the Taj entrance
Detail of the Taj entrance
Tower at Agra Fort
Tower at Agra Fort
View from the fort
View from the fort
Indian covered wagon
Indian covered wagon
On the road to Fatehpur Sikri
On the road to Fatehpur Sikri
Riding in a camel cart
Riding in a camel cart
Tomb of Salim Chisti
Tomb of Salim Chisti
Worker making pietra dura style ma…
Worker making pietra dura style m…
Dancer at rest stop
Dancer at rest stop
Women carrying buckets along road
Women carrying buckets along road
Highway
Highway
Kid driving a rickshaw
Kid driving a rickshaw
Crazy monkey
Crazy monkey
View of Taj Mahal
View of Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal
Agra
photo by: rotorhead85