The Aggravations Of Agra.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Flag of India  , Uttar Pradesh,
Saturday, November 12, 2005

Agra is the home of the Taj Mahal, a spectacular and stunning monument to love. There doesn't seem to be much else to love about Agra, (we did try), but the Taj well and truly made up for minor Agra disasters like bedbugs and overbooked train seats!

Our trip to Agra began with a 5 hour bus journey on a local bus to the railhead at Jhansi. It was the sort of trip that had you wanting to close your eyes as the driver swerved to miss cows, people and trucks but you kept your eyes peeled anyway expecting the impact. Jahnsi train station has the distinction of being the only place (so far) where big rats scampered around the toilets! It was gross. Our wait list tickets were converted to seat no.s in different carriages so we parted company and both found that our seats were occupied and we had to squeeze in tight for the 4 hour journey.

On arrival at Agra train station the hassle became monumental but we eventually organised an autorickshaw from the prepaid booth and set off for Shanti Lodge which the Lonely Planet said had superb rooftop views of the Taj from its restuarant. And that it did. Definitely the best view with nothing in the way to obstruct. The room was very ordinary but also very cheap. Where else in the world could you get to sit and look at a UNESCO World Heritage monument while paying only $15A for your room and $3A each for dinner??? But it came at a price.... Heather got a dose of bedbugs in the not so pristine room!

The Taj more than lived up to its hype. It IS beautiful! The marble is gloriously white against a blue sky and the inlaid work of semi-precious stones just astounding. The day was amazingly clear for our visit. Often it is shrouded in fog or polution and can't be seen at all.

In the afternoon we caught a autorickshaw to the train station to check on the status of our waiting list ticket to Jodhpur and found we had been allocated seats and the train was to leave at 7.55pm that night. BUT our train trip to Jodhpur was not to be! First the train was delayed 2 hours which is a long time when you are being accosted by beggars and one of only a very few Westerners in sight. Then when it arrived a great stampede happened and when we found our sleeper berths we found them crowded with heaps of men and no chance of taking our spot. We could have waited until the conductor came and sorted it out but it was just such a mad house we donned our packs again and jumped off the train just as it took off! That night had the distinction of being the first time we had paid for 3 nights accommodation at different places. Fistly we had retained out room so we could stay in it until we needed to leave for the train after tea, then we shouuld have been accomodated in our sleeper on the train and lastly we had to buy accommodation at another hotel nearer the bus station our solution to get out of town! Oh the aggravations of Agra! We were pleased to catch a 7.30am bus out the next morning and leave it behind.

Footnote: Taj Mahal, Agra, India has been listed as one of the New Seven Wonders Of The World Winners. The Taj Mahal is UNESCO World Heritage listed and features in the book Unforgettable Places to See before you die.
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