Trip Start Jun 21, 2009
12Trip End Jun 25, 2009
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Where I stayed
(This long paragraph has nothing to do with Agra travel. Skip it if you don't like.)
After I came back to Japan, one of my coworkers underestimated a guided tour
On the night, we had Chinese dinner at the multi-cuisine restaurant Taj Mahal. The dishes were Chinese, maybe Indian-Chinese, because they were made for Indians with spices. Generally speaking, Indian restaurants don't have many guests. We saw few groups of guests in all the good restaurants we stopped by even in the time for meals. That's why they have to serve drinks for high prices. In a restaurant, I paid 130 rupees, or 3 USD, for "a can of orange juice" and another 60 rupees for a bottled water. By the way, the guide had me checked up on the unopened cap of the bottle. It should be a basic rule, when you travel in the developing countries, but I totally forgot it in the safe tour with a reliable guide.
Our hotel, which was close to the restaurant, was Mansignh Palace with 5 star rating. The hotel was good with a clean room, a swimming pool, a good restaurant, and some souvenior shops, but I don't know the rate for a room of this hotel, so I can't rate it. At least, we had almost no problem but a lack of shampoos and disposal razers.
On the next morning, I walked around the area, looking for stray bulls. I suppose they are a feature of Indian cities, because you may see some bulls in the countryside of some countries, but not in the cities but of India. Delhi has more than 16 million population and Agra more than 2 million. It is difficult to imagine that such big cities have bulls in the middle of cities. Luckily, I encountered some bulls strolling along a street or eating breakfast in a garbage collection point. Bulls are a sacred animal and the vehicle of the Destroyer Shiva, so Hindus never eat beef. I saw a lot of bulls during our travel and took a lot of pictures of them. While I was strolling around the hotel, an auto-rickshaw driver talked me into going to a market. It was an attractive offer, but I didn't have time. Besides, I was not sure he would really take me to the market and, or rather, there was a large possibility to take me to a marble factory and to make me buy souveniors there. This is a kind of scams I often encounter when I travel alone in developing countries.
The first destination of the day was Taj Mahal. We had to change vehicles on our way to Taj Mahal because of the vehicle restriction of the area. We took a minibus, but somehow we still had to walk for a few minutes. Going through a security check at the gate, we headed for Taj Mahal, passing by some photographers selling pictures of Taj with us
Mughal Warriors Taj Mahal Construction Specification History Video
You can learn about the construction of Taj Mahal and "Black Taj" in ten minutes. The black Taj Mahal was said to be a mausoleum of the king who built Taj Mahal. An archaeologist revealed the secret of Black Taj in this video. The latter half of the video is a must-watch.
The view of the river and Agra Fort from the back of Taj Mahal was excellent. There were a lot of bulls bathing in the river. We may have spent more time at the back than in the tomb
See the details of the mausoleum in the video.
After leaving Taj Mahal, we made a visit to Agra Fort. The fort was impressively huge, when I passed by it on the previous day. The entrance was also awesome, but the inside was similar to other palace ruins and not surprising to me anymore. Until I caught the view of Taj Mahal from the fort, I didn't realize that the fort I saw from the back of Taj Mahal was this one. According to our guide, we toured only a half of the fort, but I thought it was enough for us. There are some noisy venders surrounding us in front of the gate. They tried to sell an Indian photo book, but I took so many photos in India and they are more precious than the photo book.
Agra Fort Video
The video works like an audio-visual guide. UNESCO seems to like videos like this.
Then the guide asked us if we wanted to visit marble factory as scheduled