Agra Travel Blog› entry 8 of 18 › view all entries
The day started at today since we wanted to see the dawn at the famous Taj Mahal. After another serious attack of Delhi Belly I quickly dressed and Bart and I were off to Shah Jahan's Wonder of the World. It was chilly outside and the Taj was 2 km from the hotel, but this was a good way to get some exercise after all the beer and curries of the last days. Shortly after 7 o' clock we entered through the tight security at the east gate and within minutes we stared at the amazing building.
Shan Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a mausoleum for his favourite wife, Muntaz Mahal, after her death. It is therefore described as the most extravagant building ever built out of love. More than 20.000 people had worked for 22 years on the perfectly symmetrical marble structure, finishing it in 1653. The 'Taj' stands on a marble platform, which in turn stands on a sandstone platform. Under normal circumstances this results in the building being visible unobstructed against the clear sky.
We took a tuk tuk back to the hotel, which was high time because the belly bug was stirring again.
After breakfast we took a tuk tuk to the part of town where the ATMs and cyber cafe's were located. We seriously needed to stock up on cash again. The many monuments and several relatively expensive meals had eaten away our cash again. Uploading the pictures on the blog proved to be impossible in any cyber café since the concerned page on TravBuddy simply didn't load.
We had a cup of coffee (and tea) at the Costa Coffee bar and met with two ladies from
We went back towards the hotel and while I searched the two big malls for CDs of yesterday's movie, to no avail. At we checked out and stored our bags at the reception so we could further explore
Within the red sandstone exterior we found a fascinating collection of courtyards, halls and mosques. Highlights were the tiny marble Nagina Masjid (Gem Mosque built for the court ladies), the mentioned Musamman Burj tower and the Anguri Bagh garden within the harem quarters.
Although the fort had it's resemblance with
After leaving the fort we decided to have something to eat and drink, running into the Aussie girls again at a dhaba near the fort.
Next we took a stroll through the
Next stop was the big TDI mall near our hotel for a cup of coffee. But first I had Bart try the Chaat in the snack corner on the ground floor. Chaat are small Indian snacks, which could be considered this culture's equivalent to Spanish tapa's. Bart wasn't too fond of the pani puri's (small hollow balls) filled with spiced water, but the puri's with paste and spices and the puffed rice with spices were considered to be as good or better than any meal we had before. We washed all of this down with special Christmas themed coffee's at Coffee Day.
Back in the hotel Bart discovered that he had joined me in the contest to produce the most fluid stools. We sat in the hotel lobby taking diarrhoea medicine and joking about the bad karma that had hit us.
At the agreed time of half past nine Bobby, the guy of yesterday's restaurant, arrived.
At Tundla station we entered a parallel universe, and not a very pretty one. It really felt like stepping into another world. Among the hundreds of people we were the only foreigners. Hordes of birds sat on the wires and made an enormous racket while rats scurried away everywhere. The Indians stared at us shamelessly when we sat at platform 3 where the train would arrive at . The need for a more comfortable surrounding and a toilet for emergency situations eventually brought us to the waiting room for first class travellers, which sounds a lot more luxurious than it actually was.
At hours we noticed that the signs had the 2402 arrive at , a 2.5 hour delay! This left us with little more to do than a game of 'rats counting'.
The waiting room got stranger by the minute. People got in to sleep on the floor and a rat we named Ciske (after the Dutch movie Ciske The Rat) kept running out and scared as hell back in again with the arrival of every train. A strange woman with a register book kept appearing to ask people in a far from polite way for their ticket details. One time she ordered Bart to give her ‘Baksheesh!'. Bart didn't know what she meant and I ignored her since I couldn't find one good reason why she had earned a tip. The smell from the toilets in the next room got worse and worse and when it finally was close to we were happy to get back to platform 3, helped by a strange but kind old station attendant.
At platform 3 we met Tod and his (girl)friend from
“Waiting for the train at in the morning, I was surrounded by a group of Indian boys who just stood around me, staring and speaking in Hindi among themselves.
Dharma Punx • Noah Levine