Most of today was spent driving from Delhi to Agra. It’s quite a long journey but it’s not too bad. It took us about 4 hours but that was with a couple of stops on the way and we slept most of the way.
When we arrived in Agra, I noticed the vibe was completely different – it was still busy and hectic like Delhi, but something about it was different. Agra is much smaller but it still has everything you need. We crossed over the river . . and we could see the buffalos swimming and women washing clothes in the river.
Our hotel here is lovely, it’s called Hotel East Gate and the door staff are lovely. Bilou is staying downstairs with the staff so every time we pop down he’s there chatting as if they’re old mates. They might be, with how long he’s been doing this!
We’re starting to feel the time difference today so we decided to spend most of today relaxing. We found a nearby hotel, which is far posher than ours that has a swimming pool that you can use for 500 rupees, but it was well worth it to bring our core temperatures down!
We went for lunch at a little restaurant down the road where Josh had tandoori chicken and I had some chow mein (why not?) which was really nice and saw a demon face hanging above lots of doorways, which Bilou said was to ward off drushti, or the “evil eye, having the same function as the hamsa.
We had dinner at a really lovely place called A Pinch of Spice which had lovely food and we met a couple from Jaipur who were celebrating the girl’s, Soni, birthday and offered us cake. Bilou told us that a lot of the time, Indian people will take a picture of them posing with white tourists and then will frame it and put it on their wall to show their family!
We got up really early this morning to get to the Taj Mahal to see it in the best light. Apparently by about 7:30 ish, the colour of the marble on the Taj Mahal isn’t as good as earlier on. It’s also much quieter early in the morning, so we headed there for around 6:15.
The building is absolutely stunning and an amazing monument to death. It was built in 1632 by Shah Jahan to bury his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal in. As he loved her so much, he built the whole Taj Mahal to honour her life. I found out some news about a friend last night so this was a perfect place to honour her memory.
After the Taj Mahal, we were so knackered that we went back to the hotel for a nap. Bilou picked us up again at 1:30pm and we drove to the Agra Fort. This place is absolutely incredible and not what I was expecting. As we walked in through the gate, I was struck by the feeling of being very, very small.
The Agra Fort is the original of the Red Fort in Delhi and is absolutely massive. There are lots of different parts of the fort, one being the first part that you walk into. It is mainly a garden with lots of arches at the front for the gentry to sit in and look out. The garden is surrounded by cloisters which, again, we’re designed for the gentry to walk around the garden in whilst being in the shade.
Another section, and my favourite, is the marble summer pavilion. When you enter the main part, you can see the Taj Mahal. Bilou told us that the Mughal emporer who built the Taj Mahal for his wife, was imprisoned by his own son after Mumtaz’s death in the Agra Fort and had to stare longingly out of the grates at the Taj Mahal he had built for his late wife. He told us that the Mughals were quite crazy and cruel, except for …, so this kind of treatment wasn’t too unusual.
After the heat started to get to us, we decided to head back to our hotel, go for a dip in the pool and go to bed as we had another early start in the morning, driving from Agra to Pushkar. It should take around 7 or 8 hours and we are planning on stopping off at a couple of places so we need to be up super early!
I will post about our journey later!