India – Day 25 – Agra

Today: 12 km
Total: 3.658 km (final score)
One hundred million degrees Celsius and the sun is burning hotter than hell

At seven we left the hotel, for an early visit to one of the new seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal. Waking up early proved a very good idea. Without queues and all touts and souvenirs shops still closed, we entered the complex fast and easily. The only hump on the road were some forbidden items in our backpacks (pocket knifes, Hindu souvenir statues, GPS and some camera equipment), which we could store in the locker rooms and pick up after our visit.

Unfortunately one of the minarets was being restored. Walking around the enormous marble building, makes you wonder. How is it possible this building was built 400 year ago, with so much eye for detail, exactly the same from all sides and very beautiful and in current days it seems impossible to get a durable fix on a rickshaw? Anyway, a very nice start of the day.

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Back in the hotel we managed to sell the rickshaws, back to the seller in Chennai. From now on we are rickshaw-less, depending on local and government transport again. Feels quite touristy.

On our way to Agra Fort, we went by the train station. The plan: go to Varanasi tonight with the night train. Visit Varanasi on Friday and fly to Delhi on Saturday for a days visit and fly back to The Netherlands at night. After a bureaucratic session of filling in train tickets request the very unfriendly and very uncooperative (which almost never happens in India!) train station employee told us the train to Varanasi was fully booked. Delhi was possible tonight. After filling in paper work again, tonight was not possible, fully booked. So now we end up taking the 6 AM train tomorrow morning, resulting in a two day Delhi visit. Also OK, but Varanasi would have been nice. But eh… traveling means you need a very flexible plan.

Agra Fort is a red fort, overlooking the Taj Mahal. Sjah Jahan, who had the Taj build, was imprisoned in Agra Fort by his son, until his death. After his death he was put in the Taj. It was nice, but because we visited so many forts, there’s not much to tell.

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India – Day 24 – Agra

Today: 44 km
Total: 3.646
36 degrees and sunny

Today we split up in two groups. Tom stayed in the hotel with Delhi belly 😦

Armand, Erik and Mitch tried to sell the rickshaws. The final conclusion is that selling a rickshaw in Agra is difficult for two reasons:

  1. Our names are not in the ownership papers.
  2. Two strokes are not allowed in Agra, because that’s bad for the Taj Mahal.

We are trying to have them repurchased by the seller in Chennai.

In the evening, Tom by then recovered, we had dinner on a roof top restaurant with a view on the Taj. The service was bad, the food worse. Don’t ever go to Saniya Palace Hotel. The chicken burgers tasted like fish. The spaghetti bolognaise had more fat than tomatoes, drinks took 45 minutes, starters came after the mains.

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Tomorrow we are going to visit the Taj Mahal and Agra fort and try to arrange train tickets to Varanasi.