Another early start as I had been advised that it is best to try and get to the Taj Mahal at the crack of dawn to beat the tour buses, so out of the hotel at 9 am. My rickshaw driver was there waiting for me. Now about my rickshaw driver in case you are interested, his name is Sonsu (not sure of the spelling) it means seventh son, he told me that in Indian tradition the seventh son is the lucky one, and in order for him to be the seventh son there had also been five girls. He has six sons and four daughters but as he explained he is now 56 and does not expect to make the seventh son…..he lives in a small village 5 miles out of Agra so has a fair pedal before he even starts work. He lives with his wife, his mother, two of his sister and one brother and between them there he thinks about 30 children, Sonsu recons it can get quite noisy at times!!!
We arrived at The South Gate of Taj Mahal in about 10 minutes he took me to this gate as tour buses can’t get to it. You are searched on the way in to ensure that you are not carrying any tobacco and of course I was, so this was put in a locker for collection on the way out. It seemed busy but certainly not as busy as it was when I drove past yesterday. Unfortunately today was quite foggy, the pollution in Agra is terrible so no sunrise over the Taj Mahal for me. I have to admit that it does look quite stunning and was exactly what I had expected. I had decided I was not going to go inside, as I mentioned before inside tombs is not for me. I am not going to bother to give you a history lesson about the Taj Mahal firstly because I am not sure myself and secondly just Google it and you will find out a lot more than I can tell you. I did spend a good hour walking and sitting in the gardens and during that time it started to get very crowded. I bumped into some people I had met over dinner last night and had a bit of a chat about our impressions and we all agreed that we were glad we had seen it.
Next it was off to Agra Fort this was about half an hour with a few small hills Sonsu was finding it quite hard work so we decided to stop for a cup of Chai from a vendor by the side of the road. The vendor decided to give me lesson in the art of a good cup of Chai as he could see me watching very carefully so here goes, firstly you take quite a dirty looking pan splash some water into it then wipe with dirty cloth. Secondly add a little more water then loads of milk put onto heat, When it comes to the boil for the first time add tea leaves and loads of sugar then boil again and leave to boil (all this boiling does make me feel better) while water, milk and tea leaves are boiling add a little Cinnamon and crush a small amount of Ginger add to pot and keep boiling. When all this is done pour into cup through BIG plastic strainer and hey presto one cup of Chai and very nice it tasted!! Back onto rickshaw and off to Agra Fort we went. Now Forts I find far more interesting than tombs, and Agra Fort certainly is a very large fort it was built in 1556 but I imagine they started it a few years before that even on piece work it would have taken quite a long time, it is massive!!
I wanted to visit Agra Fort Station just to have a look as my train tomorrow leaves from the other
station. Agra Fort Station was built by the British in 1890 and is an example of the types of station the British built, it hasn’t changed much since then. It is certainly a hive of activity. This was the end of my sight seeing for one day. I am leaving early tomorrow morning for Bhopal by train so just wanted to relax a bit and find somewhere to eat and then have an early night. I must say that Agra id certainly one of the most annoying cities I have been to (an I have been to a few) you can’t move 5 yards without some tout trying to sell you something mainly cheap tat and after a while it becomes very annoying as they just will not take “no” as an answer. I am glad I saw the Taj Mahal but will be pleased to leave Agra and head south.