Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Adventuring in Agra

December 19- Day 2: Agra (Taj Mahal and Agra Fort)

Woke up at 4:15 am with only about 3 hours of sleep before leaving for Agra! It took us three hours at least to get there and we were so tired. I slept a lot of the way; we went in a 12 seater van that was very bumpy. We got to Agra around 10am and we had breakfast at the hotel, naan bread and another kind of bread, with a potato curry sauce and yogurt. Starting the tour in Agra, we had the choice to get a camel-driven cart or an electric cart to the Taj, so we chose the camel! We were even able to take turns riding the camel but only me and Curtis took the opportunity. I went first and nearly slipped to my death trying to get on the camel. I only had two long poles to step on to get on the camel’s back with my yellow slippers on so it was terrifying!!! I had two people helping me and I still nearly fell! Eventually I got onto Raju (my camel) ok and it was so awesome riding a camel! It felt very funny moving up and down to the camel's walking speed. 

We went to see the Taj Mahal and had a wonderful tour guide who taught us a lot! We learnt that the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan built it out of love for his third wife Mumtaz Mahal (“Mumtaz= Excellence”), she was supposed to be very beautiful and bright. The Taj Mahal is well-known for its beautiful symmetry, as there are mirrored smaller palaces; the wife’s body is buried in the middle of the building line of symmetry. Filigree design was popular inside the palace, gemstones and part of the Qur’an design the palace. Nailian gemstones were used so that when light shone on it, would light up and it was so beautiful! The Blank oynx stone can tell if silver or gold is pure or not. Also, the most precious gem, is the Black star of India which when moon shines on it, a star appears. There are three black stars, the normal one, sapphire, and ruby. The tour guide briefly got into a huge loud argument with a few people over something about not telling me what to do, so that was a bit awkward and scary. 

OH so at the Taj, we had to wear shoe coverings and then we had a photographer follow us around to take professional photos for us, a lot of people do that job to make money from tourists. He took all these individual posing shots for us and then some group ones. Afterwards he developed them, we choose, pay, and we get them on a disc. It was so great because they were amazing pictures! Kim and I got so close in a picture with a monkey later that day too, amazing! Arveen got in trouble by Dilpreet when she tried…hahah. There are less beggars than I thought around the touristy hot spots of Agra, but it was still difficult to see all the dogs laying around that were stray, and all the children/poor selling tourist items. You just have to ignore them because they are very smart and persistent, amazing at reading people’s emotions/faces. 

One of the side mrirored palaces next to the Taj Mahal

Closer look at the Taj Mahal design

Along the way in the city, you see so many monkeys hopping around in public as well as cows. We had a late lunch at a nearby indian restaurant and had similar food to the morning. I went to the bathroom with Kim and oh my, it was our first hole toilet! After meals, you get sugar crystals and mint leaves to chew on which refreshes you after a meal. I thought it was to wash your hands with due to misinterpreting someone else's actions whoops! Restaurants are equipped with napkins, but they are so thin and cheap that it falls apart when you use them. 

We caught a quick dinner where we had Indian and Chinese, but the Chinese was Indian-style. We got mixed meat fried rice which was good, garlic naan, and chicken tikka marsala. We tried a salty yogurt lassi which wasn’t that tasty, but the sweet one was.

A magical day all in all! 

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