Trip Start Sep 02, 2012
Trip End Oct 10, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hotel Sheela Inn Agra
Read my review - 1/5 stars
What I did
Taj Mahal Agra
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of India  , Uttar Pradesh,
Monday, September 17, 2012

  Arrived in Agra 11.30am after a rather rare uneventful bus ride.  The countryside in this neck of the woods has been very green with a lot of large scale farming.  DJ pointed out a walled city which stood out quite clearly on some hills on the horizon.   Apparently the city was abandoned some time back because of a lack of water, but in the last few years the water problem has been solved and people have now returned to the city.  This particular walled city boasts the largest entrance gate in the whole of India.  Unfortunately it wasn't on the bus route so we were unable to see it. 

  The first thing we did on arriving at our hotel, was to drop off our bags and head straight for the rooftop for a cold drink.  First impressions of our drive into Agra are not good.  There appears to be a lot of shanty dwellings and pavement living, there's also a mega amount of rubbish in the streets.  After a bit of lunch, Fred & I stopped off at our room to pick up a few things, when we tried to lock the door on leaving our room, the whole lock fitting came out in Fred's hand. Nothing gets done quickly in India, so to ensure our belongings were safe it was decided that we would have to move rooms. Our new location turned out to be a dungeon on the ground floor - worse room so far.  Everyone pitched in and helped us move our gear, then after that bit of caffufle we headed up the road with a view to checking out the Taj Mahal.  

 The clouds were looking quite threatening, there was much debating as to whether we should go there this afternoon for sunset, or should we go tomorrow morning for sunrise.  Decisions, decisions, decisions, none of us seemed capable of deciding what was the best option, but somehow we drifted along to the tourist office up the street to buy our tickets which could be used on either day.  They also provided us with a bottle of water & paper shoe coverings, so that we didn't have to remove our shoes when we visited the Taj.  We boarded the bus that would drop us off outside the main gates, and once there we would take a vote on whether we should go today or leave it till tomorrow.  By the time the bus arrived in the dropping off zone a huge monsoon downpour was in full flow.  The weather had decided for us  -we would meet at 5am tomorrow morning and walk up to the Taj for sunrise.  In the meantime we decide to stroll around the back of the Tomb which sits on the banks of the Yamuna River. From here you get a completely different photo opportunity altogether.  DJ organised a boat, or more to the point a leaky boat, (it's not a big confidence builder when you see them bucketing out bilge water before you start!) for those of us who wanted to go out onto the river for an even better view of the Taj Mahal.

  I've avoided using the word awesome this trip, but, in this instance it's very appropriate.  It looks almost surreal I can't wait to go inside the Taj tomorrow.  Isn't it funny how things have a way of working out for the better, had we gone inside today for a look around, then we would never have had the opportunity of viewing this magnificent piece of architecture from a different perspective.  Good call DJ.    
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