Wednesday, 26 February 2014

OTN Yathra 2014 - The Taj Mahal

This was the only free day of the tour for sightseeing, and Murali, Hans, Raj and myself set off for the Taj Mahal; just 3 hours late because our taxi went to the Crowne Plaza in Delhi not Noida!

This journey was great, a toll road with a set speed limit, which it appears we broke constantly, and the road was littered with signs saying 'speeding invites prosecution' and other witty suggestions. Then we reached Agra and I experienced village traffic. I can't describe all of it, as my eyes were closed, a lot!

The Taj Mahal was everything I expected plus more, it was beautiful. locals pay less to enter than tourists which i approve off in principle, but actually we paid 37.5 times the price, however we did get a free bottle of water and shoe covers! Another advantage was the 'High Value' queues which was a kind of priority line, even better was the 'High Value Ladies' queue, another good reason to be a Woman.

As I said the monument was fantastic and I am so honoured to have visited, I had the obligatory Lady Di photo shot and soaked up the history from our guide. Our guide was another scam, but in this case turned out very knowledgeable. the taxi driver stopped a little way before the Taj Mahal and phoned somebody, 5 minutes later this guy turns up on the back of a motor bike and tells us he is our complimentary guide (who incidentally expects a good tip) - so we negotiate what a good tip is going to be and off we go. he was good and in retrospect I am pleased, but do wish people were simply up front.

Afterwards Raj the guide tells us honestly that Agra fort we wanted to visit is being restored and most of it is closed to visitors. Since we started so late and want to get back we simply take photos from the van and side of the road where the driver simply stopped mid traffic. then he stops at a marble warehouse, as we will find this very interesting to see how the marble in the Taj Mahal was worked. there is no charge we are assured but obviously an opportunity to buy goods, and yes I did but it was all very reminiscent of the government mandated trip to a jade warehouse on our visit to the Great Wall a few years back in China.

By now the sound of horns blaring is being ignored by my brain which is too busy clenching every muscle in my body through abject fear of the traffic, we did however experience a wonderful sunset, and in balance it was still an awesome day.

I know I am paranoid of the traffic in India and it is a big part of my story but remember it is irrational, and I am working on my 10 worst journeys blog, which includes many other places I have visited. 


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