Day 1 - Agra!
I'm sorry if I may get into long boring details, but this is kinda for my journal keeping purposes too!
Considering the crazy kinda days I've been having its no surprise the last thought every night before hitting the sheets is always 'I gotta slow down and take a break'. Thus, when my Canadian gf's suggested we move our traveling plans from Monday to Sunday, I could only respond with a *mental groan*. My late night patters also didn't align with the need to wake at seven am and hitting the road soon thereafter. So, as usual a late saturday night happened, but we managed to hit the road on time and I decided to catch up on my sleep in the car *as usual*. Road trip for extremely uneventful, with all three of us napping away to glory, we tried to play a couple of car games, but I dozed off during my turn while thinking of the next something *Can't remember*.
Anyway, we got into Agra way past afternoon, starved, tired and super excited to see Taj. It seemed to be a little late in the day, so we decided to see the historical beauty tomorrow instead at six in the morning. We drive towards the hotel which is highly recommemded by lonely planet. They called it a tiny little oasis away from the main touristy noisy areas in Agra. Its called 'Tourists Guest House'. We reach and are obviously surprised, as from outside, it looked abandoned, yellowy and way away from our traveling path. We decide to pay the room a tiny visit to see if this place is worth staying in after all. As we move past the reception, I see the most beautiful little garden, full of backpackers just lazying the afternoon away, surfing their laptops. Instantly, I think - " free wifi and perfect place to meet fellow travelers, love it already!" The room was reasonably decent, and they added an extra bed for no extra cost. All in all, 750 bucks for three people. No complains. So, we started filling in the register at the check-in which had several columns asking address, occupation et al. We noticed some bloke from the UK had filled in his occupation as "professional kite flier" Baby jesus! And almost, instantly Betsy decided to make things more interesting, and fills in hers as "super-model" and mine as 'super-lawyer'. So, we're standing waiting for her to finish writing for which she's taking ages, and losing patience Theresa tells her to hurry up. To which Betsy is quick to reply "Come on, gimme a break, some of there questions are really hard for a supermodel". Touche!
So, we got fresh, had a lovely lunch in the beautiful garden, met some travelers, a lovely Italian couple biking away to glory across India etc etc. We headed out, all excited to get a distant glimpse of Taj. Now say all you want about it, I think it is and will always be incredibly spectacular. Ofcourse when you are an Indian and its in your face zillion times a day, nothing may seem graceful thereafter, but it'll always be the most charming monument ever architecturally created. But heading out seemed really futile considering we didn't have the choice of seeing any monument/fort since it was almost 4:30ish. We had decided to catch this show about Taj later in the evening that everyone had been recommending besides it was better than idling around the hotel. Two hours to kill, which can seem a lot in Agra.
We got off at the Taj parking lot, and started our walk towards the monument looking for the perfect rooftop restaurant to have a cuppa tea with a good view. Finally, we come across a gorgeous little hotel called 'Taj resorts' (its not affiliated with the chain). The people in the hotel were really warm and nice, and set up a chair and table for us at the roof, and we decided to forget tea and have beer instead watching the sunset. A superb evening had begun. We got so lost in the view of Taj, and our frivolous conversations that we almost forgot we're late for the show. We rush to pay the bills, call a cab and make it in time for the show at Kalakriti.
For travelers interested, there are three ticket ranges, 300 bucks, 750 and 1000. The two expensive ones come with audio interpretation devices since the play was in hindi/urdu, but we decided to go for the cheapest ones in case its trashy enough to be walked out of. And, most obviously I was the elected interpreter. Great! Now imagine scenario : The play being in hardcore Urdu went way over my head. So I had to first translate urdu to hindi, and then to english for two very curious canadian girls wanted to know how on earth mumtaz died. Halfway through the play I got so exhausted that I decided to just fuck-it and take a nap. The play by itself, was quite neat. Its a must-watch if in Agra. There's no need to spend money on expensive tickets, since the view even from the balcony where we were in was great. It has lots of songs and dances with stunning costumes, c-grade hindi music, mumtaz dying, a melodramatic akbar crying (which made me break into fits of laughter, and victim of audience glares :D) but towards the end of the show, they display a giant replica of Taj on stage which was phenomenal. And once the show is over, you can walk over to the stage and see it up close. I would gladly pay 300 bucks, just for a glimpse of that. Anyway, they don't let you take your own pictures, and you have to get snaps clicked with the professional photographer (which we did, but I didn't bother taking a copy), so I wish I could put up a picture here. Post-show we caught up a quick but late dinner at Pizza hut :P and finally returned to our rooms after what seemed like a good day!
We're to wake up at six am tomorrow to get a quick sunrise view of the taj before leaving for Jaipur, and its elevenish already. Another, long day ahead :)
Will keep thee posted!