Agra, India

Today marked our first pre-dawn wake-up call, and first public train experience; of which, over the course of the fortnight ahead, there would be many, many more. I don’t remember much about either; I was pretty much unconscious throughout the period between the alarm and boarding the train, and I was borderline catatonic during the three hour train journey from Delhi to Agra. By the time we’d arrived, the awake part of me had joined the party.

Here’s a teaser shot to get you in the mood:

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Agra is obviously best known as the site of India’s most famous landmark, the Taj Mahal. But before we were to enjoy a guided visit to this icon of Mughal architecture, we took baby steps and visited the Baby Taj. This mausoleum was built before the Taj Mahal by Queen Nur Jahan for her father. As with most of the sites in India, this would be an architect’s wet dream – lots of intricate detail in the marble structure, complete with embedded precious stones. It costs 110 rupees to visit the Baby T; definitely worth throwing in a quid to see it.

Agra Fort, the Taj’s less famous sister monument, was next on the agenda. The red sandstone and white marble Mughal fort is pretty impressive in its own right – but our tour guide went on a bit (that’s a nice way of putting it), and he wasn’t the easiest to understand. In the blistering heat, there’s only so much you can hear about Mughals before you melt into a sticky pile of… blargh.

A tuk-tuk from the hotel to the Baby Taj, to Agra Fort, and back to the hotel again was only 500 rupees. Between three of us… yeah, cheap as chips.

Then it was time for the big boy.

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As a wannabe writer I should probably try to explain what it’s like using language but words will fail me so – here – have some photos instead.

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Yes, I did get a warm fuzzy feeling. And not just because it was 30—whatever—degrees. Walking through the gates to see the spectacle for the first time is definitely up there as one of my ‘wow moments’.

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