Today was the day I have been eagerly waiting for – the Taj Mahal!!! We set off at 8am this morning with our guide Shaf. Once we arrived we had to line up in males, females and Indians.
When we walked through the gate and the Taj first came into sight, I honestly thought I was going to cry because it was so breathtaking. The history behind the building of it is amazing – it cost the emperor 41 million rupees to build over 22 years and is a mausoleum for his dead wife to prove to the world his love for her. (a love like that please!!)
After the Taj we visited Agra fort which took 8 years to build and would have been crazy luxurious in its time. The fort has 2 moats the first was filled with crocodiles and the second was a dry moat filled with tigers. when you entered through the royal gate women would drop rose petals down on you and play music as you entered. The fort itself was beautiful. We were told not to be scared of the “squirrels” (chipmunks) but not to feed them as they bit and they have rabies. So, totally not scary…
For lunch, we got shown how hand made carpets are made, this included a free samosa and turned into a sales pitch!
When we got back to the hotel we all sat by the pool and had indian pizza hut and beer together. We watched sunset at baby Taj and then went for some curry for dinner!
Tomorrow we are moving on to a small village called Dhula Bagh, I’m a little nervous about the toilet and shower situation as Mandy the tour leader has joked that they have running hot water for showers which consist of a man running with hot water…
We started off our morning with a walking tour from an organisation called Salaam Balak which helps street children. Ejaz our tour guide ran away from his home when he was 10 and lived on the streets for a year before joining the organisation. He showed us round part of Delhi and one of the organisation’s 6 shelters for the children.
We left the shelter and walked to Masjid Mosque which was absolutely stunning but I have no pictures of it because I didn’t want to pay the camera fee!! Today was a day of visiting worshipping places because afterward we went to the Sikh temple – SeesGanj Gurudwara where we saw them making rotis to feed the masses who visit.
The Gurudwara itself was amazing with so much colours and music. No photos here either as it wasn’t allowed. On our way to the Gurudwara we saw our first wild monkey of the trip and I was like a kid in a candy shop!!
We then took our bus to Agra, where we have had some dinner and are prepping ourselves for the amazing Taj Mahal tomorrow.
This morning we arrived in Delhi, India. After an absolute mare trying to find our arrival transfer we finally got on the road towards the hotel. The drive itself was an experience, with 6 lanes of cars squished into a 3 lane road. Nobody sticks to lanes and nobody indicates there’s just a lot of beeping and cars with dents!
Once we arrived at the hotel and had a nap we were ready to meet the rest of our tour group with G Adventures. We had a welcome meeting with Mandy our CEO (chief experience officer) and all went for curry. There are 6 Americans, 2 Norwegians, 2 Australians and 3 Brits including Ben and I.
The culture difference was obvious from the beginning with people staring but it became more real as we walked to the restaurant tonight, with people lighting fires on the street and kids trying to sell you balloons (a little girl followed me for a good 5 minutes hitting me with them).
Tomorrow we head for a street tour of Delhi and into Old Delhi before the long ride to Agra begins!