Sunday, September 23, 2007

Someone said there are two types of people, "Those who have seen Taj and those who haven't.". Till yesterday I fell in a third and unusual category, I had seen it from backside when I went there last time. I mended that yesterday by going for a day trip to Agra with Enemy Tull and two friends. Now I feel better that I did not get to see Taj last time from front side. :-)

Since we had already planned that we will be coming back the same day, we started at 6 from Enemy Tull's place, picked up friends and were off to Agra. We took the airport, NH8, Badarpur, Firozabad, NH2 route and reached our destination at 10:30 after taking a breakfast halt at a roadside dhaba.

I managed to spill curd on my t-shirt and jeans when trying to break the bubblegumish aaloo-pyaz parantha. It's a miracle that the pickles in the same plate did not make an attempt to dirty my clothes and a disaster was avoided.

Delhi-Agra highway (NH2) is a decent highway but it's very risky to go on prescribed 90 kmph speed. You have to dodge things like, speeding and honking and zig zagging cars, extra slow jugads, auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, slow but in first lane trucks, cow herds and buffalo carts (I saw them after a long time). Driving on Mumbai-Pune expressway and U.S. freeways have truly spoiled me. Some people might be happy with the smooth, pothole free highway but I want more from these highways.

We crossed Sikandara and Agra Fort on our way to Taj Mahal and were asked to park our car 700 meters away from Taj. I would have gladly parked it a kilometer away because there were free camel cart rides from parking to Taj entrance. On the way back we took paid cycle rickshaws.

It was an extra sunny and hot day, we stopped at The Taj Restaurant for some cold drinks etc. and got into a queue to get inside the monument of love. As we bought our tickets our cameras were already in action and we kept taking photographs and videos; at the end our camera had nearly 150 photographs and I think our friends had similar number of photos in theirs.

In an unusual event, ladies' queue was extremely slow thanks to food carrying auntyjis and a bad tempter constable. Usually ladies' queues are really fast and relatively empty.

First look at the Taj made us forget about the sun burning on our heads but the sun broke into the magic very quickly. A round of photo click frenzy followed, we crossed the Taj gardens quickly and were baffled to know that we have to remove our shoes. Now burning sun on head was still better than walking on heated marble barefeet. There was a work around of wearing a cover over our shoes and we did just that.

Taj is really huge, it didn't look that large from across Yamuna river, but it really is a wonder. We spent a lot of time clicking photographs and rested in shadow for some time. I have seen Taj and would want to go there again in better weather.

We drove back to Agra Fort and spent an hour there doing nothing. We chose not to hire a guide and just went here and there and didn't really explore the place all that much.

It was time for us to head back. I plan to go there again for a longer and more relaxed trip.

I also plan to revive my photoblog by posting photos taken on this trip.

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