Agra, India

Agra, India

Anything you may have read about touts at New Deli station is true, we were told we had to go to Connaught Place (10 mins away) to get a boarding pass as we had an e ticket (we didn’t) and that the tourist office was across the road (it wasn’t).

We had a slight panic when we checked our tickets and saw we had seats in different carriages (we’d booked RAC tickets) but as we’d booked sleeper seats the berth would be big enough for us both – we just didn’t realise it would be a top bunk!

Our train was late due to the fog so we were about an hour and a half behind schedule, we’d read that travelling sleeper class was the way to immerse yourself in Indian culture and it certainly is although you do get some stares, I think they wandered why we were there!

After a cramped 4 hour journey we arrived in Agra home of the Taj Mahal, one of the main reasons we had come to India.

A friendly tuck tuck driver dropped us at our hotel and persuaded us to go straight out to see the Baby Taj and watch the sunset over the Taj from across the river – we overrode our instinct to say no to everything and set off. It turned out to be a good decision as the Baby Taj was another “oasis of calm” and seeing the Taj from a distance whetted our appetite fr our visit the next morning.

The traffic in Agra probably just as bad as Delhi, we were serenaded by horns all the way and we also saw a lady puking out of a van, monkey sex, a cow taking a dump and what looked like a man doing the same!

We’re staying at the Sai Palace and our room was right by reception and the generator which kicked in during the frequent power cuts, we wouldn’t have minded but it sounded like a motorbike running yards from our lugholes! We got to use our earplugs and sleeping bag liners for the first time here – we also had to sleep in our clothes as it was so cold!

The best thing about the hotel however was not the standard of the room but the view from the rooftop restaurant – perfect view of the Taj.

We awoke on our second day in Agra at the crack of dawn – well almost – we would have liked to get up for sunrise but we were being lazy but we got to the Taj for 7 am, our hotel is near the east gate which meant we were there in minutes but the ticket office is 1.5 km from the gate – we’d like to add it was flipping freezing! We set out to walk it but succumbed to a cycle rickshaw half way there and he took us to the ticket and back to the gate.

Our entry wasn’t as straightforward as we would have liked, there was no queue but the security staff wouldn’t let us take in our torch or netbook so I had to run back to the hotel to drop them off, when I returned they also made us leave our playing cards and only let Sharlie take her notebook as long as she didn’t draw in it!

The Taj looks magical from a distance but is even more beautiful up close – as you can see as we took a ton of pictures – we tried to get the Princess Di shot but the bench was hogged by what looked like a photography cartel .

Although it was freezing the Taj’s beauty took our breath away rather than the cold. Seeing the Taj was what brought us to India and it exceeded our expectations.

Next on the list for the day was Agra Fort which our rickshaw driver assured us was better than the Red Fort in Delhi and he was right.

We explored the grounds and interior of the fort and enjoyed great views of the city and the Taj.

After some food and a couple of drinks we headed off to bed – again fully clothed and in our liners – as we had an early start the next day as we headed to Jaipur.

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