India Trip - Day 2 - Agra

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April 4th 2009
Published: April 10th 2009
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Day two of the India trip started off in an interesting manner. We had to get up really early and catch the train from Delhi to Agra. This meant that we had to be in the reception of the hotel at 6am so we could get to the train station on time. The drive to the train station was a bit of a dream, right up until we got close to the station where it then all turned completely chaotic. In Dubai people like to use their horns a lot, but here they take it to a whole new level. I swear that there is no rhyme nor reason to the use of the horns here - unless it is something like "I haven't sounded my horn for at least 5 seconds, I'd better give it a toot". The entrance to the train station was complete and utter chaos. There were cars, people, ricksaws, motorcycles and animals everywhere. However we managed to get on the train safely and at 7:15am the train pulled out of the station.

The train ride itself was a little on the dull side and 3 hours later we pulled into Agra, where we faced another interesting station experience. We actually saw 2 rickshaws crash into each other and get stuck. However luckily this time we were priviledged enough to have motorised rickshaws ready and waiting for us. These were actually really quite lovely to drive in. They took us to the hotel so we could drop our bags off and then we were off to look at the Agra Red Fort. I have to say that I was very impressed by the Red Fort. It was beaitiful. It is a large, lovely part military, part royal palace complex and when it was in its hey day it must have been totally amazing. The guide that we had took us around and showed us the various parts of the palace including the royal bedrooms, harem etc. There were beautiful pools where the concubines used to sit in the rose water and sing to the emperor, gorgeous courtyards and reception areas, a library etc. When the decorations of gold and silver and precious stones were still there it must have been an amazing sight to behold.

From the Red Fort we were taken (via a brief stop for lunch) to a carpet factory. Here they english speaking guide showed us the full process of making the carpets, right from the start of the wool coming from australia and NZ (go NZ!) through the knotting (weaving) process. How they clean the carpets and then trim them, right up until we got to see the finised products. The factory actually uses women out in the villages to do the knotting and when the carpets are fundamentally complete they are sent into town to be cleaned and finished off. It was an amazing process to see. And yes, I did succumb and purchase a wee carpet. Actually it is a wall hanging and it is the picture with the elephants on it. So mum and dad you can expect a carpet to arrive via DHL in about 3 weeks. 😊

From the carpet factory we were taken to the Taj Mahal. Well this is the only thing that I was really interested in seeing in India and it didn't let me down. Well actually it did let me down in one way, all the fountains and ponds were empty for maintenance and cleaning so we didn't get to see any of the beautiful water reflections. The other really annoying thing was all the people that were there. It was actually really interesting because most of the tourists that were there were actually Indian. In fact probably 95% of the people there were Indian. And there were an awful lot of people there. What was really classic was that the indian men seemed to take a bit of a shine to some of the girls on the tour and about 10 of them had their photos taken with the girls. Robin and I were approached by what seemed to be an entire class of Indian school children who wanted to have their photos taken with us. And then later on again I had some more men ask to have their photo taken with me. It was all very odd. We couldn't really work out why they would want their photos taken with us. Unless they are going to use them as prospective bridal photos for the future.

The Taj Mahal itself was just lovely. Robin and I managed to pick ourselves up a little local gardender who insisted on taking us all around the Taj and showing us the photo spots. It was actually quite cute. It got to the point that he didn't trust me to take the photos and took my camera off me and took the photos himself. He actually put us in a couple of good spots and we ended up with some nice snaps. Of course he wanted some money for his time and effort. So he walked away with the princely sum of about $US 4 for his efforts. Well worth it on his behalf.

Tomorrow are off somewhere else. No idea where, although the guide has told us the name.

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