After a few hours on the train from Delhi, we finally arrived in Agra where we were to spend our first night in India. We went out of the station with the rest of the sea of people. Then we made a huge mistake…
Outside the station, we were met by a friendly man offering to take us to our hotel in his taxi. We walked with him to his car and he drove us to our hotel through the crazy streets with every square inch covered with tuk–tuks, cars, motor cycles, bikes, pedestrians, dogs, donkeys and cows. This was an experience in itself. When we arrived at the hotel, our driver (his tourist name is Lucky) offered to take us on a tour of the Taj Mahal and all the other sights of the city. He also explained that it was very dangerous to walk around in the area where our hotel was and that his price was the best we would be able to find. Of course we didn’t know that he was lying to us and that we could get to all the sights by tuk-tuk for next to nothing.
The next morning, we were up early and in the car with Lucky. He drove us around for twenty minutes before we finally arrived at the Taj Mahal. It could however have been only a five minute walk from our hotel as we were later to discover.
The Taj Mahal was amazing!!!!! It is absolutely stunning! The architecture of this beautiful white marble masterpiece is magnificent. It blew my mind to think that it was built in the 1600s. It is completely symmetrical and its beautiful decorations intrigued me. All the semi-precious stones ranging from Jasper to Lapis Lazuli are inlaid in the marble in beautiful patterns and designs. The picturesque lawns and gardens around it are very impressive and the great thing about it, is that it isn’t packed with people. Yes there are tourists, but at least all your photos aren’t full of other people taking photos. I loved it.
After that we went to the Agra Fort, a fortress full of red palaces, gardens, courtyards and beautiful views of the Taj Mahal just a little down the brown river Yamuna. We walked around with Lucky for a few hours exploring the fort and taking photos with just about every Indian that saw us.
Then we went to an amazing lunch at a great Indian restaurant. I couldn’t help wishing that Grandpa Gordon was there too.
After the fort, went on to the Baby Taj Mahal, a building similar to the Taj Mahal little way up the river. As the name suggests, it is a lot smaller than the magnificent Taj Mahal. But all the same, it is incredibly fascinating. There were almost no tourists here and we strolled in and around the Baby Taj Mahal. It is older and has a different charm to the famous and touristy Taj Mahal.
We were also taken to a few stores where the girls tried on sarees. Of course we were taken to all the tourist traps where the prices were extremely high.
Later, we were back in our hotel getting ready for a good night’s sleep. Jet lag had hit us.
The next morning, we explored the streets where the locals live and we had breakfast from a local food stall on the side of the road. We were stared at by everyone and it was interesting to see the local way of life.
We stopped for lunch at a less touristy restaurant close to our hotel. After a delicious lunch we went back to the hotel to pick up our bags and left for the train station. But this is another story to be told by Esto.
– Ruzow –