Day 5 - Easter Sun 08 Apr 07 - Agra
Up at 05:20 to see the Taj from the roof top of the hotel! Very impressive, then I headed down to the gate. I got there at 05:50 but then I realised that I didn't have enough cash to get in! So back to the hotel to get some cash, and then back to the gate. By this time The Taj was open and there was only one person in front of me in the queue.
Once inside there a lot of people around, quite a few western tourists but mainly locals. Got some good photos. As I was entering the mausoleum itself someone started yapping at me about the number of stones in the inlay work etc. I skipped to one side, but he was waiting for me when I returned. I told him nicely that I'd just like some private time to look around, and he said okay and left me alone.
Beauty cannot be specified, it needs to be contemplated.
After a good walk around I decide to head off - I didn't get much sleep last night due to the heat. My room didn't have air con, just a fan in the roof, but boy was it hot!
Walked back to the hotel had a shower, packed up and headed to get a rickshaw to Agra Fort Station. I tried to check the status of my train reservation, but they were in the middle of a power cut so all terminals were down. Dropped my luggage at the left luggage and by the time I got back the power was back up, and the good news is that I do have a seat!
It's still only 08:30 now, so I walked down to Agra Fort itself. Quite a few of the tourists from the Taj have made it to the Fort. Just as I enter the gate there is a clap of thunder and it starts to rain (heavily) - luckily it doesn't last long, and I get to have a good look around the Fort.
As I walk out of the Fort I'm caught by a cycle rickshaw driver I was chatting to on the way in. I asked if he'd take me over the river to see the other side of the Taj. He agreed for 150R. Off we headed dodging the traffic. A cycle rickshaw is even worse than an auto rickshaw, with that you have the chance of accelerating out of trouble, in a cycle rickshaw you are a sitting duck!
Anyway, made it across the railway bridge onto the other bank of the river. When we were on a quiet road I had a go at peddling - it's hard work even on the flat. I got to see the Taj from the other side, and then headed back. Of course this was via a shop, so the driver could earn his cut. I got a small brass box for 150R.
Then it was back to Agra Fort Station - I checked the reservation board, and sure enough my name is on the board, the bad news is that the train is running an hour late. Now it was a great plan - catch the train from Agra Fort to New Delhi, and walk to my hotel which was just around the corner. There are faster trains from Agra to Delhi, but the stations are further away.
The train was very late, and got into Delhi at 23:00 about 4hrs late. I did managed to walk to my hotel, and for an extra $10 I upgraded my rather pokey room for a front facing room with Air Con!
It's been a good day, a day of contrasts. From the beauty of the Taj to the squalor of the Taj Ganj just around the corner.