Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Taj (and Agra's Other Treasures I Guess).

With every text I have got from my parents or every email I have received from home, I have been constantly reminded that the climax of my trip was looming on Tuesday: I was going to the Taj Mahal. Now, to say I was a fangirl of the Taj Mahal would be an understatement of the greatest proportions - I was near aching to see my first Wonder of the World, to the point of delusion when we arrived at our hotel in Agra.

Ah, you caught me, I am being insanely hyperbolic, but finally seeing the Taj Mahal in person really was one of the highlights of me trip - how could it not be? I would love to be able to play the cynic and say that it was just a big white building, nothing special, but alas, here I will start my gushing.

I was blown away this morning. It was even worth the 5.45am wake up call. With our guide, we were able to learn all about the history of the Taj too (about a 1/3 of which I can remember, oops!) and it really was beautiful, situated on the edge of the Yamuna, which Flo and I had seen flowing not too far from its source only a week earlier back in the Garwahli area. I am also now a huge fan of marble inlay...how middle-aged does that make me sound?

My only complaint, criticism, would be about Agra the place itself. A tourist trap, a real 'nothing' place - just hotels, restaurants, and coach loads of tourist. I suppose it's inevitable that when such a wonder is built, it will be turned into a tourist attraction with all the tourist amenities, but as a place it was disappointing.

Excuse the morning fog, this is what you get for getting up before sunrise..

One happy, cheesy, tourist.

However, with its history, Agra does have two more tourist delights to offer; Agra Fort and the 'Baby Taj' (Etimad-ud-Daula's Tomb which is a Muslim mausoleum). Agra Fort is based on Red Fort, or maybe it's the other way around, so having been to both I was able to draw my comparisons; both made from Rajasthani Red Stone, both impressive in both size and structure etc but I was very impressed, and not just by the double moat - one section of which would have held alligators, and the other which would have held tigers, just to stop intruders.

After a whip around these two attractions, we, this afternoon, galavanted across a border or two and found ourselves in Bharatpur - the home of the Keoladeo National Park, and truth be told, not much else, before continuing onto Jaipur and further into Rajasthan tomorrow.

Agra Fort.

Tourist feat. Baby Taj where my shoes were 'stolen' by a familiar looking Tour Guide...

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