Agra/Taj Mahal

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February 5th 2015
Published: February 8th 2015
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The train from Varanassi to Agra was fine, but not quite so luxurious as the last train, as we didnt get a cabin to ourselves. Shared with Japanese girls and their guide. Train arrived in Agra 3 hours later than scheduled time of 6am, despite leaving Varanasi on time. (We have since read in a local paper that trains in the area around Agra have been stopped or delayed by lawyers protesting because they want a high court to be opened in Agra. They have been lying down infront of trains, climbing on trains and generally disrupting! I find this amusing, even though the photo didnt show them wearing wigs and gowns to protest!! (if the rail workers themselves protested like that, I bet they would be forcibly removed, or driven over, quite quickly.)) The poor cab driver from the hotel was still waiting patiently when we finally arrived. We are both feeling a bit unwell (head colds rather than Delhi Belly), so we were glad to check in and lie back down! (On the train one of the Japanese girls put a mask on because I think she was worried about what she might catch from our continual nose blowing.) We got up again in the afternoon so as to visit the Taj. It is only a few minutes walk away, but we travelled by cycle rickshaw because there are so many men deperate to earn some money driving you about, that it doesnt seem extravagant or decadant. On the contrary, it seems almost rude to ignore them and walk anywhere yourself.

The Taj is the most exquisitely beautiful building I have ever seen. It is also well kept, with no litter or discarded plastic bags in sight, quite unlike the rest of the country. I wont go on at length, since everyone has seen or read about the Taj, and the photos show how it is. There were a lot of Indian visitors as well as foreigners. Again, some wearing really beautiful saris. The interesting thing is that they are as facinated by us as we are by them. They ask if they can take a photo of themselves with us!

We didnt make full use of our stay in Agra or of the hotel (which is the most expensive one I booked in India) facilities due to our colds.......on the second day we got up just in time for 12 noon checkout, having had a very early night, didnt use the hotel pool, and only picked at a bit of complimentary breakfast. After getting up late we sat on the roof terrace sipping a medicinal tea recommended by the manager for colds, and then had a stroll in nearby Taj Nature Park (entrance fee, no plastic litter allowed, relaxed and refined place with fine Taj views), where there were several much younger indian couples also out strolling. Then it was time to eat and get on an overnight train to Udaipur.

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