I have to start out by saying that I'm exhausted at this point. I've been awake since 4 am and I walked way too many hours in the sun already. To make matters worse I have at least 5 more hours to make it to the hotel where I plan to very quickly pass out.
With that out of the way, let me explain why I feel so tired. This morning I left the hotel early to board the train known as the Shatabdi Express that makes the daily trip from Delhi to Agra, leaving Delhi at 6 am. This option was recommended to me as the most efficient and fastest, which made sense so I took it. In an effort to control some of the chaos of the day I asked the hotel in Delhi to book me a driver and guide for the day.
After an interesting 2 hour train ride through the Indian countryside I arrived in Agra where I was met by my very nice driver called Bima. We drove to the local hotel to pick up our guide, Mr. Mayank. After picking Mayank up, we proceeded to draw up a plan for the day.
We would first go check out the Taj Mahal, then visit the Agra Fort followed by the baby Taj before stopping for lunch.
First, the Taj Mahal, a monument to love of a woman and love of perfection. The complex took 22 years to complete using thousands of skilled laborers and slaves. Even after 400 years the buildings look pristine thanks to the stone used in its construction. All of the paintings and designs on the rocks are inlaid stones, which make it keep it's color and design through the centuries. I was lucky to walk with Mayank around the site, since or only did he know a lot of interesting facts (the columns outside the main building are actually leaning out, this was done on purpose, in case for an earthquake they wouldn't fall on the main structure) about the place, but also had a lot of experience on what were the best points to take pictures from (will add some soon).
The Agra fort was the emperor's city. It housed him, his family, his armies and many of his cabinet. Currently only 25% is open to the public, since the rest is actually under use by the Indian Army as their barracks. The Agra fort also had its own market and square that served as a kings court to the people.
After a buffet lunch in a local hotel we'd go visit Akbar's tomb. At this point I need to now wait about 3 hours to be driven to the station so I can take the train back to Delhi. Arriving back in the hotel around 10:30 PM.
Let's be very candid and direct, Agra is a very dirty, messed up place. If not for the beautiful monuments it wouldn't make it on a map. But there is something inspiring and amazing about the buildings in this city. The scale of these projects challenges the mind to understand that these were created 400+ years ago, yet they look perfect in almost every way. All without PCs (or Macs)
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