I left Sunder Place Guesthouse as early as 6.30a.m. for the bus was due to leave the Pink City at 7.00a.m. I wandered around at the wee hour looking for my bus and found 2 tourists (1 German 1 China) looking as lost as moi. We found the bus and decided to sit close to one another. The funny part was we were seated one row after another, all with window seats.
I arrived at Agra at noon and shared an autorickshaw with the guy from China. I went straight to Hotel Sidharta Western Gate Agra for my friends who took the train had arrived much earlier. Hungry, I was. I put down my backpack and joined the others for lunch. If you happen to be in Hotel Sidharta Western Gate, do not forget to try its home made fries. Awesomest.
I decided to skip Fatehpur Sikri as my financial did not permit. Syakir backed off too and we embarked on a little journey through the scam city of Agra. When I said scam, everything was scam-related activity. I wanted to go to the backyard of Taj Mahal and so we did not – after we had few scam series along the way.
We took cyclerickshaw and boy, my heart went out for the skinny bone rickshaw cycler for having to take both of us around Agra. He told us he could give discounted price for the ride if we were agreeable to spend at least 20 minutes in a souvenir shop. Agreed and we started to time for 20 minutes. Only later that we learned that uncle was paid a commission for bringing us there.
It took ages to reach the old Agra city and we opted for autorickshaw to go to the backyard of Taj Mahal. We wanted to see Agra in many different colors often seen in the postcards. Having spent good 45 minutes at the backyard, we learned that it was the magic of photoshop after all. Sunset was beautiful and in great depth.
Agra was where I bought the book of Maharani of Jaipur, the Autobiography.
Next morning started early as we had to queue to buy our entrance ticket to Taj Mahal. Great, it was only 5 minutes walk from the hotel but the queue took more than 30 minutes. First, it was the ticketing counter. Second, it was security check that we had to go through. My safety whistle was confiscated and I am still clueless as to the harm I could make.
By the time we were inside the garden near the grand entrance that leads to the symbol of lasting love, the sunrise was gone. Sprinkled with sunshine and morning dew, I wrapped myself to the saree I bought in Jaipur. I was taken by an awe when I first saw her standing to her glorified-self. She was still covered from haze, half awaken from the chilling night. But there she was, as beautiful as ever told.
The grand entrance was a bit crowded as tourists who were mesmerized by the beauty of the Taj Mahal would stop there to enjoy the view. It was like a dream comes true. I was by then quite knowledgeable on the history of Taj Mahal and the implications she had bestowed on India.
The Mughal empiror, Shah Jahan was grief-stricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal died during the birth of their 14th child. He built the principal mausoleum and the surrounding buildings and garden to symbolize his greatest love towards Mumtaz. Little was said about the striking favouritism as against Shah Jahan’s other wives and children.
Aurangzeb, his third son seized the throne by killing his siblings and putting Shah Jahan on a house arrest. It was said that the head of Shah Jahan’s favourite child was chopped off and sent to Shah Jahan with a note that said he had not been forgotten by Aurangzeb.
Ok, I should not be saddened you with the tragic end of the remarkable Mughal empire.