Taj Mahalomania

Trip Start Jul 25, 2011
Trip End Sep 01, 2011

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Flag of India  , Uttar Pradesh,
Thursday, August 11, 2011

After struggling to find a train seat from New Delhi to Agra, I ultimately decided to join a day trip organized by a couple of other guests at my local hostel. After a very early departure at 7 I finally got there at 11.30 after taking one hour just to get out of the Delhi urban area. We got past masses of people crossing the motorways, from the schoolgirls perfectly dressed with their clean uniform and white ribbons in their hair, to the pilgrims of a nearby shrine sharing their path with some cows that decided to do the same for whatever reason.

On the way to Agra we were warned about the inevitable flood of touts of every kind it amazingly took only one second out of the car to be swarmed. Ever seen those zombie movies where the refugees are trapped in a car and all sort of disfigured and amputeed humanity surround them?
Keeping it cool and easy, no time for this nonsense, just walked past them as usual. This time a self-appointed tourist guide assistant from the Indian government welcomed us all and went to explain how to get around.

The Taj Mahal is so fragile that cars are banned from running in the nearby areas, so only electric buses are allowed. After bidding farewell to the "guide", his spontaneous offer of showing us the site (cheap price my friend, where have I heard that before) and to his travel operator ID (which was actually a religious icon of Ganesh with some pencil writings on it) we finally got through.

The sight of the Taj Mahal is truly spectacular as it's initially hidden by a series of smaller buildings that surround the main path leading to the entrance of the gardens. At last the white giant emerged from the other side of the dark and narrow building we were passing through, then finally revealed itself.

What a sight!

It's enormously bigger than you can imagine, no picture truly gives an idea of its immensity. White as snow, imponent yet so light and airy that it was one with the cloudy sky for most of our visit.

Of course something went wrong again, but nothing serious, just lost contact with the others and wandered around by myself until finally catching up with them right at the exit, a few minutes before starting to panic.

Before heading back to Delhi there was enough time left to visit the Red Fort, and considering how the one in Delhi was closed due to the upcoming national festivities, this really was mandatory to visit.

I haven't much to say about this site since I was started to feel very tired and worn out by the weather, however still did my best to take some nice photos and enjoy the gardens. Also got to see my first monkey, and plenty of them!
Back to Delhi, tomorrow I finally leave this modern Babylon of our times and get to the rural part of the trip: Jaipur and Rajasthan.

At a time, our car is getting past immense green landscapes the driver is singing softly a gentle theme. A few minutes later, the monsoon comes and it's complete mayhem. People walking knee-deep, boys getting their cows out of the mud, street vendors saving their products from the floods and so on.

What a sight.
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