Agra (April 30  - May 2,  2002)
New Zealand

Hospet/ Hampi
Deep Griha


One of the "must-do's" in India is to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra. We checked into the pleasant but hot Tourist Rest House for two nights. 
Taj Mahal

old style rock carving at the red fort in Agra

The next morning we were at the Taj at 7AM. It is spectacular - more impressive than I was expecting. There is just no way to describe it adequately. Even the kids were impressed. Chloe bought one of those little tacky Taj replicas made out of plastic as a keepsake. We also visited the Agra fort. I didn't like the story of the Agra Fort, although Mark got a chuckle out of it - Shah Jahan (the Mughal ruler who built the Taj Mahal) finished the fort's construction and was subsequently imprisoned in it by his son. They are maintaining sections of the fort... and I suspect their work methods have not changed since it was first built. 

The rest of Agra is definitely not spectacular. Many of the roads were little more than dirt tracks. Garbage, stinky ditches, and the most persistent touts and rickshaw drivers we have ever come across driving the oldest, dirtiest rickshaws imaginable turned our visit to Agra into penance we had to serve in order to see the Taj.

But in the midst of all this, we did find lots of exquisite inlaid marble products for sale. We now have a horrendously heavy inlaid marble chess board to carry home. I hope it makes it in one piece.

I recently wrote an e-mail to someone to tell them that we had all been in good health in India - I should have touched wood.  Mark was sick at around midnight on the night before we left Agra. With Gravol, he survived until about 5AM. We gave him another Gravol and hoped that he would survive the three and a half hour train trip to Delhi. He did not seem too bad when we left, and in case he needed a doctor we'd rather be in Delhi anyway. 

We could only get second class unreserved seats on the 6AM train. I think the number of tickets issued are limited only by demand, not the actual seats available: the train was packed with commuters. The benches in our little area were marked into 10 seats, but we had 17 people sitting with another four standing. If we had not taken over the luggage rack with our baggage, there could have been another six to eight people sitting on the racks over our heads as well. 

Poor Mark being sick on the train from Agra to Delhi Through all this, Mark was quite sick. However, he discovered how to create more space around him. On the few times he did not make it to the toilet, he found that "people scattered like bowling pins" as he was being sick into his plastic bag. Poor kid - not only was he feeling badly, but his father was mean enough to take pictures of him and post them on the web site. 

That was our last train trip in India - memorable to Mark in particular, but not in a nice way. Off to Delhi