Monday, May 11, 2009
Finally TAJ MAHAL
Reaching Agra in the wee hours of morning amid the silent bylanes of Agra city, with only few chai wallahas to keep your company, local cycle rickshaw pullers and some vendors shouting "Agra Peti" (Its a famous sweet in Agra) you know for sure you've reached Agra. yes, The land of Taj Mahal.
As a kid i always had read in the textbooks, general knowledge classes, seen it on TV and heard more about it when Bill Clinton visited and Yanni performed live. so far my knowledge about Taj Mahal was limited.
Reaching early morning without a plan of future course of journey is sometimes not a good feeling. I spent nearly two hours having a chai at the local bus stand and chatting up with rickshaw pullers and geeting soem information about the place. It is always wise to speak to locals when you are travelling as they dish out some really interesting information free of cost.
I found a passenger rickshaw and hitched a ride for 20 rupees to Taj Ganj area, as that is a place for cheap hotels and food. Upon my arrival to Taj Ganj I bumped into two Spanish tourists namely Ursula and Mifua at a local coffee shop. We had some conversation about general stuff till we became familiar. I freshened up at the local restaurant and set off to see Taj Mahal with these Spanish tourists. After the conversation I found out that Taj Mahal looks different during sunrise and sunset. So I also decided to see the spectacle with these folks. The auto wallah realising the urgency and need of our sunrise took us around the city and later told us that this is a shortcut and charged us 200 rupees. I was stunned. Meanwhile, Mifua intervened and said in broken English only 40 rupees if you want you can take it or else leave. The idiot auto guy just took 50 rupees and vanished.
We walked through the banks of Yamuna River to see the sunrise but unfortunately it was partly cloudy and had to be content with streaks of sunrays. We sat on the bank for sometime waiting for the boats to cross us over. We crossed the river to reach the North entrance of Taj Mahal at 6:10AM.
As soon as I entered TajMahal I really didn't feel any different. It was a plain white building with Mughal architecture. I stood for a moment to see what is there in this building, but honestly it was average. I walked around the monument to discover the place. I saw the four minarets they reminded me of lighthouse in Mahabalipuram. I spent time looking at the intricate paintings on the walls which depicted about Mughal architecture in India. I spent time looking at foreign tourists, holding hands with their partners and getting the best picture clicked. So it will look nice in their drawing rooms. It was a nice feeling as I finally saw Taj Mahal.
I left the place soon with these guys and took a train to Mathura. I spent time chatting up with these guys about India and their experience. I did receive dirty looks from fellow passengers as Mifua was wearing weird dresses and smoking beedis. I gave some tips to handle the looks and dress moderately when you travelling in India as you invite troubles unnecessarily.
I reached Mathura by 10AM and bid a good bye to those Spanish tourists. Mathura is a small town and a holy place for Hindus with narrow roads, friendly people and humid temperature. I took a place at Sri Krishna International guesthouse at 75 rupees for a night. The rooms were clean and common bathrooms. Very well maintained and suits travellers like me who live on a budget.
I went around the town visiting all the temples under the hot sun. I was really tired going around the temples as the temperature was hovering around 44 degree. Despite the heat I did manage to go to Vrindavan 12 kms from Mathura. Honestly these places were dry and there is nothing, which really catch your attention. I mean to say it's just a sleepy town filled with temples and pilgrims.
I was really tired by the end of it, mainly due to humid weather and dehydration and decided to call of my trip to Fathepursikri. I had a good dinner at guesthouse for 50rupees, which serves hot butter soaked rotis and nice vegetable curry with the best dal. The food is unlimited and try it out for yourself when you visit the place. I slept early, as I didn't have any energy to venture and explore the place.
Next morning I took a early train and returned to Delhi.