Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wah Taj!

Enough of all the talk about struggles with appearances, now back to the greenery of envy!! :) So after the pink city we were off to Agra. Agra hotels seem to have the worst reputation, we couldn't find a single one with good reviews.. after a lot of effort we found one but then I think it was because the hotel (Siris 18) was relatively new and unknown that the reviews weren't so bad! However all the air conditioning in the world seemed to be against us on this day! The car we took from Jaipur to Agra lost its a/c mid way.. and we had to roll down the windows and let the hot hot air in. The room we were given in the hotel had a faulty a/c and we had to change rooms! While that was conceded to with very less resistance, it was the case of the open bottle that had me furious!

The room had a fridge with an open alcohol-less bar. I took out a bottle of mineral water only to find the seal was already broken. However my son insisted on having water and I opened the second bottle and gave it to him! In true 4 yr old spirit he left the bottles near each other and we tackled the next issue of moving rooms. When I asked the obnoxious bell boy who helped us with the move to get the water he brought the wrong bottle. So I told him very nicely that I wanted my bottle and not this one. He argued that it was just the same and turned my nice demenaor into a hopping madness! Finally peace was restored when my bottle was brought back.. but I am not so sure anymore! If you need to stay in Agra, this hotel will work alright but dont eat there.. the food was very bad and salty. Dasaprakash is a good option for vegetarian meals and serves really tasty food amidst a pleasant ambience.

Anyway enough about the food and water.. and now on to Agra.. we could see the view of Taj from our hotel rooftop and even that was splendid. Agra is all about the Taj.. everything else only pales in comparison and I was left wanting to go back again and again to see Taj. I ended up not seeing Fatehpur Sikri due to this obsession with Taj.. but no regrets! We visited Taj early the next morning.. at 8 Am. This apparently is the time with the least crowds.. Taj opens at 7 am and early in the day there is no queue and you get to see Taj without the million heads blocking your view.. still there are a couple of hundreds but that you can live with!

We were at Agra on a full moon night and wanted to see Taj at night. But the guards at Taj advised us against it. Instead that evening we took a ride to Mehtab Bagh.. This is across the yamuna, behind Taj.. The garden was almost empty besides a few urchins who looked us like we had lost our mind! But the view of Taj was just splendid from here.. The light of the setting sun shining on this marvel in marble gave it a creamy hue! We enjoyed our solitude with this awe inspiring sight. I wonder why this place is not popular We hated to leave, but we had an auto guy waiting to take us shopping to the galis of Agra market where tourists seldom venture. Where you get lovely Kundan and other jewellery for a few hundred bucks (the same piece costs a few thousands in the cities) and you get lovely inexpensive earrings that look so pricey! We went crazy ofcourse, and the shop owner loved us! He asked us to go see Dhayal Wag on the next day, he and a few others told us it was a must see in Agra. Wrongly assuming to be a temple of Krishna we went to the Radhasaomi mandir at Dhayal Wag (It is actually a samadhi of Radhasaomi the founder of a cult/ religion by his name). Unfortunately we were very diasppointed.. and except for the fact that we found tender coconut (nariyal paani) just outside this place, we found nothing of interest there!

Another interesting sight in Agra was that of the Baby Taj. The site of Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb is said to have been in Noor Jahan's (Mother of Shah Jahan - who built Taj) family for years. The Baby Taj looked like it was an inspiration for Taj.. or like some write ups say it was a draft for Taj?! We also visited the Agra fort with its rich carvings and marvellous architecture, however we again ended up peering at Taj from the fort as Shah Jahan must have done when he was confined there by his son Aurangazeb! We can imagine why it is very difficult to take your eyes off that marvel. But we had to peel our eyes and selves away from Taj and Agra to head towards Mathura.. the birth place of Lord Krishna!

6 comments:

VJ said...

just catching up on all the travel posts !!

you seem to be having good fun !!!
any plans of coming back?

Mama - Mia said...

wow!! and yes, Taj is indeed magnificent! but Fatehpur Sikri is verry interesting too. to see how sensibly people on those days made their homes errr palaces and the stories / myths behind some places. there will be another trip i am sure! :)

and i didnt know that you got sasta kundan jewelry! bwwaaahhh!

cheers!

Galadriel said...

lovely pictures.. you guys are great parents to take your kid to all these amazing places. :)

lostonthestreet said...

Whew!!! that's some travelling
The baby taj looks fat and cute..

Pavi!!!! said...

such RICH experiences these are!

n damn..i didnt know ther was sasta jewellery! guess i got another reason other than the taj to go back ;)

Preethi said...

VJ - Hmmm.. coming back eh?? yeah have to head back soon!! :)
Abha - yeah you do.. but then you get great stuff in Delhi too :) sasta stuff.. shopping was the best part of my trip!! :D
Galadriel - yeah I am a great parent agreed.. but it was my dad that took us on the trip :)
LOS - hehe.. it does right.. kind of like Taj's obese and short twin no cousin!!
Pavi - Yeah..I wouldn't have guessed.. we got a nice auto guy to take us around.. Also I asked him to take us to the local market.. its better to look there than in the touristy stores :)