Somehow, and it was a miracle, we were up and ready for collection from the hotel at 5.30 in the morning, to go and see the Taj Mahal. Again!
It was just becoming daylight when we arrived, having driven in the dark navigating round the usual run of dogs, cows and random people just sitting in the road. They don’t open the gates until 6.30 so we chatted with the others who were waiting, we were about eighth in the cue.
Eventually the gates opened and we all scrambled to get through security; I was slightly delayed by a security guard who I felt lingered unnecessarily over my pat down. Then it was an utter cavalry charge to get through to the Taj, most unseemly.
Everyone seems to be heading for the “Diana Platform” where the late Princess of Wales famously posed on a bench in the early morning. It was an alarming scrummage and some people are unbelievably rude but Mrs Sixwheeler has notoriously sharp and effective elbows and soon sorted them out.
All the guides were telling their clients to go to the left to photograph the Taj against the red sky but given the cloud cover that was never going to happen, so I went to the right ….. and waited. After a while the colour of the stone started to change slightly and then for about one minute this happened
and then the cloud thickened so we headed back to our hotel for some urgently needed breakfast.
Soon we were on the move again from Agra across to Jaipur but first we had to visit the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri. This is a city made out of red sandstone that was built by one of the Mughal Emperors to honour a local Holy Man. The Emperor had been unable to provide an heir and had tried everything without success but following the consultation with this Holy Man he fathered three sons in quick succession.
Fatehpur Sikri only lasted about twelve years before being abandoned. Popular history has it that the water supply failed but our guide reckoned that the Emperor just decided to move on. Anyway here’s an idea of what the place is like.
From here we had a long drive of nearly two hundred kilometres to Jaipur. On the way I was looking at the highly decorated truck, this is a typical though not extreme example.
Finally we arrived in Jaipur just as it was getting dark and were greeted by a thunderstorm of truly biblical proportions, massive lightening lighting up the sky and thunder rolling around the hills, very impressive.
Tomorrow we meet an elephant.
14 March 2015