Delhi train station
This morning was a very early rise for our train trip to Agra
. We were picked up at the hotel and taken to Delhi
station. It was 6:30am and it was already packed, our train was an half an hour late so we hung out at the platform. While waiting there was a cute little beggar girl hanging around, first she just stood there with us then she started performing gymnastics moves on the platform, obviuosly how she earns her money. Delhi station wasn't all that bad Ive seen alot worse ! The train to Agra was quite pleasant, comfortatble recling seats, toilet was fairly reasonable you even got soap and a tap that worked.
Little beggar girl at Delhi train station
The snack and Chai man would make his way up and down the train so there was no shortage of nibbles. The scene outside the train was a different story from the city centre, piles of rubbish and plenty of poverty, I had sleep to catch up on since I didn't get much the night before so I had a nap. Arriving at Agra most of our group got off but I got stuck behind people with large suitcases so when I did get off I couldn't see my group so I followed what I thought were my group and ended up outside the station, I didn't know where I was and I had all these pestering taxi drivers hassling me, then a young man approached me and said ' Geckos ?' what a relief ! he took me back to the platform where everyone was waiting for me ! they were on the platform all along, they thought it was funny.
Cows wonder down the street in Agra
Agra was a dusty place, dirty and wasn't much to look at but we were here for the Taj not the town. Our hotel was nice Royal Residency, it had hot showers comfy bed so I was happy. We had some time to relax, shower and go for a nice group lunch to a local place up the road before heading to the Taj in the afternoon. Agra was very different than Delhi it was far less polished and had so much more interesting things going on, there were elephants, sharing the roads with tuk tuks, ox carts, bicycle rickshawas, cars you name it. The side of the road held just as much interest, every bit of available space had a seller or small business of some sorts whether it would be fruit and veg stalls, food vendors, bicycle repairs, barber, all sorts it was never a dull moment.
A goat was eating an apple at the Taj entrance
The entrance to the Taj was a fortified wall and as we stood outside waiting to get in a heard of cattle came down the road then we were pestered by the most aggressive sellers Ive ever come across who were either trying to lure us into their shop or sell us guide books, postcards, ornamental Taj's and other tat, you really needed your fly swat here !. We finally got inside and you walk down a long avenue into a coutyard where there is a red sandstone gateway. We walked through the gateway and there it was standing majestically the other end of the water courses and gardens, the marble wonder that I had longed to see. Getting a photo was a task, there were so many people there it was a scramble to get on the spot where the photo is normally taken without someone else getting in your frame.
Eastern gate entrance to the Taj
Anyway I managed it but you had to be quick ! I meandered down towards the Taj along the watercourse taking photo's as I went. What you don't see in the postcards is the two sandstone buildings either side of the Taj, one being a Mosque and the other a Jawab and both pretty impressive. Before I could go onto the great marble platform I had to put these stocking socks over my shoes so as to protect the marble, I did feel ridiculous I should of taken my shoes off like the locals. Up on the platform I quede to go look inside, it was fairly plain inside but you could see the tomb. The outside of the building was more impressive and the carved out flowers and inlaid stones and paintings on the building itself were lovely. We stayed at the Taj until just after sunset but with the polution the sunset wasn't that brilliant, there seem to be more and more people arrive mainly Indian tourists, it was very busy indeed.
Gateway through to the Taj
After taking lots of photo's we ventured back outside where we were mobbed once again by aggressive sellers, they were like mozzies at dusk an absolute pain in the butt. One seller showed me a very nice large photo he took of me in front of the Taj except I wasn't looking at the camera ! just one of the many little scams. We did manage to buy some postcards in a shop without too much hassel but we did stick together in small groups so as to ward off the annoyances ! eventually we had enough so jumped into tuk tuk's and went back to the hotel, even when we were in the Tuk Tuk's the sellers chased us down the road ! one got himself trapped between a bus and a tuk so he couldn't run much further , that made our day ! In the evening most of the group chose to go out for dinner but after the large luch 3 of us decided just to head into town, grab a snack change some money and possibly look at the markets. We got as far as the money changer, the polution was too much so we decided to eat in the hotel which was much more pleasant.