Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Wonder of the Taj – and it's Baby!

The Grand Taj Mahal
We managed to get up at 6am even though Dave was still weak, but the antibiotics seemed to be working so we headed off to see one of the Wonders of the World – and it didn’t disappoint! There were quite a few people there despite the early hour but it was nothing compared to the hordes that would arrive later. We enjoyed the majesty for an hour and a half, wondering through the tomb, the mosque and the gardens before we returned to our hotel to check out before 10am. By then Dave actually had an appetite so we thought it would be nice to eat at one of the rooftop restaurants with a view over the Taj, but they seriously all smelt like sewerage, with no decent view and no Wifi - so we returned to where we’d eaten dinner and enjoyed banana pancakes with a side of free Wifi. 

Our poor rickshaw cyclist
It was worth the hunt for Wifi as we were relieved to discover that our Wait-List tickets had been upgraded to seats so we didn’t need to return to the train station and try to negotiate for another ticket. Instead we negotiated a cycle rickshaw to take us around and see the other sights in Agra – namely the Red Fort and the Baby Taj. We wandered through the Fort, stopping to gaze out over the river to see what were meant to be fantastic views of the Taj, but due to the heat haze the views were reduced to only a white smudge admist the grey backdrop. 

It was a fairly long ride from the Red Fort to the Baby Taj and we really felt bad for our rickshaw driver so we decided on the hills to get out a walk and help as much as we could to push the rickshaw up the ascent before clambering back in to enjoy the coasting down the other side. It was well worth the visit though, beautifully intricate designs and manicured grounds with hardly another person in sight. 

It took even longer for us to get back to the South Gate with frequent dismounts to help push. Upon arrival, after thanking and tipping our very sweaty rickshaw driver, we dove into the nearest café with aircon and enjoyed a late lunch while recovering from a long day in the heat. 

The Red Fort
After lunch we collected our bags and before returning to the station where we discovered that our train had been delayed for two hours which meant that our estimated arrival time for Jaipur would be at 12.30am, something that we hadn’t planned for and we were a bit worried about navigating from the station to town and then finding a place open in the wee hours of the morning. However, somewhere during the trip our train made up 1.5 hours of lost time so we thankfully arrived at 11pm which was much better! We went straight to the hotel we’d found on the internet, Hotel Pearl Palace, and negotiated a beautiful room with aircon for only 700IRS a night. Relieved to be safe and sound in a nice hotel we enjoyed a much needed hot shower after our hot and sweaty 18 hour day before collapsing into our huge comfy bed and sleeping an exhausted sleep.

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