Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Golden Triangle part 2: Agra

Listening to: My daughters and nieces playing

Our driver picked us up early and we headed out to Agra. It was a 5 hour drive and much better than I had thought driving long distances in India would be. I redact my crazy mad max comment.  The kids however got totally bored and bothered us the whole way.

On the way, our driver stopped at the tourist trap that had guaranteed clean bathrooms and overpriced knick knacks. We had the most awful tea I have ever tasted and then pretty much ran out of that place. My eldest daughter had some canned juice that made her sick on the way to Agra. L

Akbar's Tomb

We stopped at Akbar’s tomb on the way.  We didn’t go in, but stopped to wander around and take pictures.  After the tomb, we went and dropped our stuff at our hotel, the Sarovar Portico (same chain as Delhi). This hotel was a bit older, but decorated more in an Indian fashion rather than modern. We ate lunch at the hotel restaurant. The food was not all that good here.

Agra Fort

Our guide came and we headed out to Agra fort.  The kids were bored again as they wanted to run around a lot and the guide wanted to stand still and talk a lot. Again, being the nerd I am, I enjoyed learning about the history.

After Agra fort, we headed to a garden on the opposite side of the Yamuna river from the Taj Mahal. This was by far a favorite evening of mine. The garden was totally deserted and we got some great pictures. Since Shah Jehan, the builder of Taj Mahal was completely compulsive about symmetry, it doesn’t really matter which side you take pictures from, they all look the same. We also got to take pictures in the evening light, which was nice. We headed back to the hotel and got ready for dinner.

We ended up at the roof bar/grill section of the restaurant because the downstairs dining room was totally full of middle age white tourists and Chinese tourists.  The kids again ate pizza and the husband and I ate some byriani and kebabs that were pretty good.

The Taj Mahal - just in case you have your head in a gopher hole

The next day, we headed out first thing after breakfast to the Taj Mahal. We took the morning ogling the view, taking pictures and listening to the guide repeat himself from the night before about all of the history. Overall, it is a very majestic place to see and totally worth it. On the way out, we got in the middle of two warring monkey groups that lived on opposite sides of the street. You may think monkeys are cute. You would be wrong. When the monkeys are the size of dogs, have bigger teeth, and are trying to destroy each other it's just not cute. We ran out of the way as the guide shouted at the monkeys to get lost. They paid no attention and we made our way out as quickly as possible.

This was actually a monkey from the Taj. Sitting like a boss.

A few things on Agra. Agra is a smaller city who’s only claim to fame is the Taj. There are a lot of uneducated, small town people who look at you like a mark or a circus attraction. You don’t see women out on the street, at all. I would highly recommend women go with a male relative, friend, or guide and make sure you are wearing loose pants and a long sleeve, loose shirt. If you happen to go when there are a lot of groups of school kids, especially boys, they will pester you and stare. It’s best just to ignore them.  I really hope I'm not offending anyone by mentioning this. It's just an impression I got after being in a few different cities here.

We finished around 11 am and set out for Jaipur.


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