Trip Start Aug 28, 2004
67Trip End Aug 2005
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We took a Ric shaw driver called "Babu", who refused to discuss any money talk and asked us to decide what to pay him for the day? .This is a ploy used all over Asia ,why quote a rate when you know that tourists will always pay much more as we haven't a clue how little they earn. We went to see the "Taj Mahal", which is quite simply stunning and anyone who refuses to see it on the principle that it costs too much is mad, it costs 750Ru for visitors and 25Ru for the Indian people, but the money goes into the upkeep and the restoration of it as pollution has really affected the exterior. It truly is a masterpiece of architectural design and craftsmanship, over 20,000 people assisted in creating this wonder of the world. From here we went onto the Red Fort which was really interesting both to see the fort and to people watch, as many Indian people travel from all over to see these places too. There were lots of Muslims visiting the Mosques within the fort and they really stood out as their very black (women) and white (men) clothing contrasted against the pale marble carving of the buildings.....here we got a great view of the taj from the riverside too.
The baby Taj which is also on the same side of the river is a cute version of the big Taj, but far more decorative in both it's inner and exterior decoration
As a quick in between trip we visited both Mathura and Vandrivan, two smaller cities northwest of Argra as there were a few interesting Temples of Hindu and hari Krishanea origins. We met some interesting folk along the way including a second generation Tibetan, born in India but worked up in Manali in the summer months and came to Mathura in the winter. Manali is one of the places I visited when I first came to India with a school group doing their World Challenge expedition and they really enjoyed it there. Funny how you cross paths with people......Martin managed to find a very Bollywood style shirt from a guy on the street markets, 100% quality polyester/nylon garment......nice!!!( it was 80p wadda you want?)
Whilst in Mathura, I made a very unwise decision to get my hair cut, yes I should have seen the signs, as he was a small time Barber, with posters of very dodgy hairstyles on the wall (Martin may have tried to warn me!!)
(I was crying with laughter and confused the barber by giving him a tip. Another tip is never get your hair cut by anybody wearing a hat)
We then went on to investigate the Ghats and Temples by the riverside (me now wearing a headscarf to disguise the damage), and before we knew it we were swept into the celebrations by a very large man who daubed us with the red Tikka on the forehead took our money as an offering to the temple and asked us to sit in front of the shrine!! With Dipvalli in full swing, the whole place was swarming with teems of people, not for the fainthearted at all, you do have to be quite assertive and take a stance in these circumstances.(in other words" I'm afraid I'm not superstitious old chap",I mean come on a god who is half man half elephant!) On our return home we passed the butcher, I mean Barbers and he was grinning from ear to ear as he waved when we passed by!!!
Our experience of the Krishna Temple was a slightly more tame affair in comparison, and although the temple has a very striking black and white carved marble frontage it was fairly mediocre inside, but decorated with some really colourful mural paintings of Lord Krishna depicting the stories of his life, the Indian people are very talented artists it has to be said.(Also many westerners singing and happy clapping inside, my first thought was to shout "Get a life" but then I guess they have if you like orange and listening to the same George Harrison song over and over again After a varied experience of both the people and their surroundings we returned to Agra in order to move onto our next destination, "Faitpur Sikhri", we want to visit the Islam Mosque which is meant to be a replica of " Mecca".