THE FIRST OF MANY!
A looooooong break and another fantastic vacation which was planned in the break time kept me away from writing and also a lot of work transitions...ah man life can get you so busy and occupied that you wont even know what you are doing..LOL!!
Execution of the plan is as important as planning a trip. I knew what all places we had to cover during the Delhi trip, but i didn't know the means to reach that particular place. That place is none but AGRA! i checked for the bus which would take us to Agra in the morning but that was least feasible. Believe in angels in disguise? LOL not really, but this time i did! there was someone from my previous organisation who was at Delhi and i had to contact him for travel details to Agra after letting him know that we wanted to see the world famous TAJ MAHAL but didn't know how to reach the place. He was generous and considerate enough to share some contacts and asked me to negotiate with the driver! Tada!!! it worked. My hindi speaking skills could convince him well enough that agreed for a 4000/- day trip to Agra!! the next day morning by 7:30 our drive was ready! we asked him to pick us at 6:30 but..ah but Delhi being Delhi had a lot of fog and it was so not possible to start that early!!
The Yamuna Expressway is a fantastic road for all you guys who are suckers for long drives on perfect highways! Me being me as usual slept 90% of the travel time. Ugh, i can never keep myself awake during travel. I always prefer to sleep!! This driver of ours was called Pramod and he said that we would be picking up a guide on our way to Taj ( we never asked him for one though). We finally reached Agra and also picked up the guide. We were hungry and desperately wanted to eat. The guide asked us if we would have samosa, kachori and jalebi for breakfast!! Bhai, hum aap logon jaise nahi hain...those are evening snacks for us..dosa idly nahi milega kya? (standard response from my dad) :D
We found a krishna bhavan where food sucked and paid twice of what had to be paid. Note of caution: When in a new place please, please go eat their kind of food...not search for your kind of food..damn! After the horrible food we proceeded to take the tickets for our visit to Taj. the ticket hardly costed some 50/- for Indians and round 1000 odd rupees for foreigners...why??!! Covers are given to put your feet into so that the vicinity of Taj isn't stained or dirtied by your slippers/shoes.
Next comes the interesting part...
Being a guide he introduced himself as Suresh and we greeted him formally and left it there. Looks like he was too interested in my family and started getting all personal asking about caste, religion and a few political interests. I totally lost my cool and told him we aren't interested in his nonsense and if possible he can just tell us about the Taj else just SHUT UP!!
Spot the TAJ!!
He took us in and started explaining about the grand entrance and also the 3 different entrances to the Taj. I was constantly looking around if i could steal a glimpse of the magnificent piece of architecture and yes...i could spot the top dome after walking a few steps forward. OMG!!! i was surprised looking at how beautiful it was and couldn't stop admiring it..i was waiting to see more of it but this annoying suresh was stuck in his own world of nonsense talks!
We walked into the entrance and i stood there completely frozen for a couple of minutes with eyes popping out and a dropped jaw!! The Taj mahal..it stood right there and it was extremely beautiful...nothing like i had imagined it to be!! we took a lot of photos and this idiot Suresh hurried us into the inner premises of Taj. Here we found a lot of beautiful designs so intricate and delicate and i couldn't appreciate the work no less!! it was extremely good adorned with semi precious stones and patterns from the mughal era and the workers from the olden days have just made justice to this monument. She stood majestically symmetrical, shining in white yet so graceful and subtle and i couldn't get my eyes off her!! The inner chambers which contain the false sarcophagi of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz had spectacular designs and there were a few designs in the shape of Hearts. Our amazing Guide Mr.Suresh said that those were designs of Shah Jahan's heart for his beloved Mumtaz and it represented Mumtaz's heart. WTH...dude seriously?!? Basically he knew nothing and just wanted money! we explore the rest of the taj all by our self and left the idiot behind :D
After coming out of the Taj, there are logical patterns which are optical illusions which can leave you dumbstruck for the way its done...watch out for those patterns if you love details!! We asked Suresh about it after overhearing the explanation from another guide who was near us and this man finally told us facts which made Sense. It is also seen that the word Jannat has been inscribed in various languages on the entrance to the Taj. The decorative elements are written in calligraphy and throughout the Taj complex contain verses from Quran. The calligraphy at the main gate reads "O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the lord at peace with Him and He at peace with You". All you art lovers out there, go watch out for the minute details and it will leave you so satisfied. Plant motifs, arabic designs, reflective tiles, marble lattices are the ones mainly adorning the beautiful Taj Mahal. The 4 minarets stand out symmetrically and outward so that even during the worst earthquake, the minarets shall fall outwards and not on the main dome hence leaving the structure safe! Such is the love of the emperor for his queen. there are 99 names of god in the form of calligraphic inscriptions on the real tomb of Mumtaz and other inscriptions include his praises for his beloved queen!
We finished touring the Taj and it was time for us to pay the guide. I spoke to my parents and had made up my mind to pay him just 300/- and i gave him the same with a huge grin and a polite thank you. This Suresh speaks to my driver demanding a 1500/- for all the rubbish he had spoke...so lesson learnt..beware of these guides who try to cheat you. Do your homework well in advance and go visit this World Class Architecture. I am so damn in love with the Taj Mahal. It is no less than the Iron Lady for symbolizing love!!
Done with taj, we hit the roads for some shopping and lunch. Go shop for amazing shawls in Agra and also the famous panchi Petha!! oh im drooling!! Simply love that sweet and it comes in multiple flavours...not going to disappoint you one bit!
Have lunch at a local dhaba at Agra and you will relish the true flavors of food!!
This Agra trip was a lesson learnt and i showed it in the means of paying our driver 3400/- !! haha, you need to compensate the loss incurred!!
Adios Agra....wait for what happens the final day in Delhi and we say goodbye to north India!!
ISE KEHTE HAIN WAH TAJ!!!!