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Agra and The Taj Mahal...

Written on: Monday June 22nd, 2009

A journal entry from: London to Beijing overland!!

Hi all, we left Delhi on Friday morning driving south towards Jaipur,  the Pink city.  I think everyone was glad to move on from Delhi although as we were soon to find out the smaller towns are just the same be it on a smaller scale.  Still busy as anything with traffic evrywhere, nobody giving way to anybody, the only thing that makes it all work is the sound of horns, cars, trucks, motorbikes, rickshaws and even the bell of a bicycle can signal someone to give way.  It is good and bad travelling in such a big truck, on the one hand you are massively bigger than anyone else and they tend to steer clear of our path, plus from being so high up we get a great view of all that is happening and we have a big air horn that roars to the whole town that we have arrived and to keep clear, mind you some idiot drivers take no notice! On the down side we often drive up streets that are way to small for us, yet we slowly snake our way through the mess of traffic which is their everyday life.  As well as this we encouner a lot of brideges and overpasses that we cannot get under, I think the trucks limit is 3.9 meters, we have 5 spare tyres strapped on top so that makes it just a bit higher.


So the drive south was hot and we had decided to stop the night at a small town that is home to Ranthanbore National Park where the elusive Bengal tiger supposedly lives.  They wouldnt tell us how many are in the park exactly, I don't think there are many left, but if their was none then suckers like us would'nt come and pay money for a safari to see it.  It is a little sad because years ago they say there was hundreds of them living there.  Our guide told us that before it was national park it was a private game park and in the 1960's Queen Elizabeth came there and shot 2 tigers proudly displaying them for photographs.  The tour lasted about 3 hours and it was good, we got to see some beautiful birds, the kingfisher bird on which the beer is named after.   As well as different types of deer and a heap of monkeys climbing through the rtrees or just playing amonsgt them selves and their babies, quite cute.


While most of us went on the tour the ones who did'nt went to find a bush camp for the night, seeing that we are in India and the fact that there are over a billion people living in the size of a country less than half the size as Australia, you can guess that there is'nt much free land about.  Whether the locals are working the land or using it for cattle or it is part of a town or someones house or that it is a full of sewage or it is being used as their rubbish tip, in any case it is quite hard to find a clean patch of grass or dirt to lay down 30 tents!  So we were quiet rightly excited to be dropped off at a lovely  hotel after our safari, our guide Steve had negotiated a price for us to use their perfectly kept lawn to pitch our tents, plus they had pulled the truck in so we got to cook for ourselves and we had the use of 2 bathrooms for showers etc. But the winning stroke was that we could use their swimming pool, we were wrapt, after spending the best part of 12 hours driving in our own truck to the town, then on the safari truck in 43 degree heat we were overdue for a refreshing swim, it almost seemed to be a mirage when we seen it!  Just what the doctor ordered, plus we coud have a cold beer!


We soldiered on to Agra the next day and to see the monument of love that all of us were looking forward to, The Taj Mahal.  Well the traffic in Agra is just as good as anywhere else and it took us quite a while to get to our hotel.  Onced there we sorted the plan for the next day which was to get to the Taj early, just after sunrise and beat the crowds. 


Our plan worked perfectly and when we arrived there at 6 am the sun had just cracked and the day ahead was begginning to show.  The Taj is just as impressive as any monumenty you will see.  I think its that first initial sight form about 100 metres off and you know that any photo you take with any old camera is going to be brillant.   Staring at it there from the entrance to the main complex it justs seems like someone has drawn it there on the horizon,  with a perfect morning sky as background.  The Taj was built raised up 3 to 4 metres higher then the ground as you walk in and the effect is breathtaking because at no point as you walk towards it do you see what is behind it.  You get the view of sky and so the pictures highlight how beautiful it is.  Incidentely there is the Yamuna river right behind it.


The early start paid off and we got some great pictures with hardly any tourists in the backgound, we even got the famous Princess Diana photo sitting on the marble seat front and centre of the Taj.  After all those mandatory snaps we ventured inside and admired and wondered at the intricate marble carvings and decorative work.  The gardens surrounded it are just as impressive and well kept although they were all fenced off and we couldn't lay down in the shade just to chill out.  Would have been great to sit there and admire the Taj, similar to the grounds in front of the eiffel tower where you can sit and look and wonder.  .


We also visited the Agra fort which was built around the same time and was fairly impressive with loads of white marbel and red stone walls. 


This is now almost 3 weeks of plus 40 degree days and we left Agra very hot but pretty chuffed that we had seen something so impressive.


Bye for now


Russ and Heather  


From annie g on Jun 25th, 2009

well how awesome it all sounds, love the pic of the the two of you in front of the taj m, not a shot everyone will get to have of themselves!take care love annie

From Kellie on Jun 25th, 2009

Thanks for your facebook message. We miss you too, only talking about it last night, how it seems like forever since you left. We have booked our flights home for xmas, 9th Dec-2nd Jan. Definately be catching up with you guys. The photo's so far from your trip are amazing. Keep safe and keep writing the journal. It's great reading.

From maur on Jun 27th, 2009

wow how hot must it be 40 degrees and camping and in India. f you can handle that you can handle anything. Love your writing Heath, maybe thats your next job a bit of travel writing.You both look a bit skinny but very well. Love Maur