Mittwoch, 28. Oktober 2009

The Taj Mahal, Baby!

I get up at 5:30 and head over to New Delhi Station. It is still dark but already the road is crowded with people. I find the platform of my train and work my way to my seat. Still in the dark we leave Delhi at 6:15 sharp and with the engine sounding it's horn every half minute we head out of the city. On our way we pass the really poor quarters of the city then just sheds made from sheet metal and plastic foil. Then we roll past burning junk fields and finally it's farm fields. The sun is making its way over the horizon as a dark red ball of fire lighting up the hazy sky all around it.
The Chai Wallah is coming through our coach passing out some biscuits and tea for breakfast.
After two hours we reach the city of Agra, where, leaving the train station hordes of rickshaw drivers surround us to get a ride to town and maybe the followup sale of a day long tour around the sights of the area.
Andre, a fellow traveler I met on the train and I share a moto rickshaw to Taj Ganj where our hotels are located. Our driver is nice and is chatting us up what to do and when. He suggests to see the Red Fort of Agra first one or two more sights and visit the Taj later in the afternoon.
Some time later we meet up again and despite the recommendation of our driver we head straight for the number one attraction of the city:
The legendary Taj Mahal
We enter through the main gate, already a sight of it's own. The Taj is lurking through the opening of the gate and joyful anticipation starts building up. I notice me getting more and more unsettled, slightly quickening my pace. Then we step through the backside of the gate and into a garden with long pools. And on the
far end lies majestically the Taj Mahal, its white marble blazing in the morning sun.
We stand in awe, absorbing as much of the sheer beauty of this scenery.

We slowly make our way closer to the mausoleum of Mumtaz Mahal, Emerpor Shah Jajan's favorite wife. It is incredible and we can only take our eyes off of it to take more photographs. The entire trip was already worth its while.
We spend almost four hours strolling around the premises. Again and again we stop and enjoy the moment.
Again we are stopped and asked for pictures by our fellow visitors from India. We make their day. First the Taj Majhal and then a picture with a tall, bold guy from Europe wearing silver sun glasses. It's a riot.

Heavy heartedly we make our way back to the entrance and leave this gem of marble in this crazy maze of India.
Our driver is gone but he left his "brother" who has Adre's cigarets and lighter. He drives us down to the Red Fort of Agra, which I find even more intruiging than the one I saw in Delhi only two days earlier. We wonder through the courtyards on this large compound but still saturated with sensual input from our visit of the Taj, it's hard to feel true enthusiasm for this great building.
It is getting later in the afternoon and our driver is reluctant to drive us all the way out to Akbar's Tomb. We cross the Yamuna river for a view of the backside of the Taj in the evening light. It nice but simply can not compare to the view from the entering gate. Plus the barbed wire fence and military post preventing you from walking all the way to the edge of the water kind of kills the mode. We agree that a nice cafe with patio, chill Indian music and a large variety of chais, coffee specialties and long drinks would be a gold mine. Let's wait and see how long it takes until someone pulls it off.

We head back and chill on the roof top of Andre's hotel. We have some great chicken Masalah and two bottles of domestic strong brew. At ten I call it a night and head back to my own hotel just around the corner.
I crush on my bed and fall asleep almost immediately. But I do manage to get one last thought through my tired brain.
What a day!