Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Agra - day 13

Agra the city of the Taj Mahal - and nothing much more about it!

We arrived in Agra after the protest ordeal I wrote about in the previous blog post and headed straight to the Taj. Here we were advised to either get a bike rickshaw from outside or just walk it as it's only 10 minutes on foot to the entrance. Don't let anyone fool you to take you to the best gate etc they just are tuk tuk drivers wanting easy rupee!

So we arrived at the Taj and went to the ticket boot and in a flash somone saying that is "special guide" appeared and told us he will be guide - don't fall for it wait in the queue with the locals. One thing that is normal here is that a ticket for Indians is 5 or 10 rupees - tourist ticket is always some 250 or 300 - for the Taj it's 750 but at least they include camera fee.

We got in the queue (female and male separate) and walked slowly until we reached the security officers. On checking my waist bag he started getting stuff out;


And said "No" - I replied ok why and he kept saying "no go locker" I said that obviously I won't smoke but he kept showing me away. Finally another police with some vague english knowledge told me to go to locker - I requested to know why this is not advised before and he showed me a sign which was completely covered by the people of the queue no wonder I didn't see it!

We went to the locker which was about a ten minute walk from the entrance and was met by a man half asleep that yet again had no idea of speaking English but knew how to say "20 rupee charge" - oh great so my locker costs double the entrance fee of an Indian guy to see the Taj - great!!!

Anyways we went back through security ( was stopped again since I had a pen and was advised not to scribble on the marble - to that I replied rudely that I'm educated and will never do that) and finally got in the entrance pathway to get to the Taj.

The amount of people (Indians mostly) was incredible and after getting through a swarm of photographers wanting to take our picture ( they didn't notice my camera I guess ) we kept moving towards the White monument. Seeing it from far it simply looks like a photo - nothing much - but the real feeling is when you get closer and under it and realise the shear size of it - it's huge!!! Yes that's the best part of the Taj it's size. It's decorations are very plain and simple and if it wasn't for the size and the amazing minarets I doubt it would have reached the world wonder status.

Any way - the fun started when we slowly went around this huge monument. In one of the fountains we saw a group of 6 people washing their feet, teeth, hands and having a drink from one of the fountains - inspiring (I have the photos will add later!). After all fuss made about the fact that I cannot even take my cigarettes in the place was dotted with red chewing Tobacco spit - educational. On entering the main mosuleum which is the burial place and is kept in darkness due to the red flower paintings and where photos are strictly prohibited we were blinded by flashes and cell phone torches! The place looked like a U2 concert for god sake and the idiot at the door sent me 3km to the lockers to lock my flash light - it's enlightening!!!!

Well my opinion about the Taj is that it's over rated, oversized, takes too much credited for nothing and even the late Lady Diana looked bored in her picture in front of the wonder. From what I have seen, India has so much to offer apart from the "should see monuments".

Oh by the way - rest of Agra - nothing much we went to hotel and prepared for a long trip to Orchaa.

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