We woke up early and received messages that the morning flight of our trip buddies from Dubai to Delhi was cancelled. Added to the tension was a problem with the tourist visa which can be solved for a couple of days.
We followed the original plan as suggested by the travel agent. All hotels and travel guides were booked already as plan. We should continue the confirmed group tour without them.
Location: Agra, India
Where I Stayed: Hotel The Taj Vilas
At 10am, we left Taurus Hotel and traveled down to Agra. The heavy traffic in Delhi confronted us. The wide road occupied by different types of land transportation, from a simple pushed cart to heavy loaded trucks, competing to each other. Blowing of horns was just normal. The driver said, “on this road, some cars are following no rules.”
The road to Agra was wide and spacious. The vast agricultural plain decorating the province was the source of livelihood of locals. The fields are planted with rice, sugar canes, corns, and millet. Animal raising was also abundant like buffalo, cows, sheep, and goats. The bright and colorful cloth seen at the distance was an Indian woman taking care of all the animals on her traditional dress called sari.
At 12pm, we stopped in a restaurant. The smell of spices evaporated in everywhere. The aroma of curries were so tempting but the surprising spicy taste which we couldn’t handle refrained us on ordering.
At 2pm, we reached the territory of Agra. It just like a village with so many strayed cows resting on the road. There were buffaloes too even within the city. We directed to our hotel and checked in at the Hotel The Taj Vilas. Our driver contacted our local travel guide who will lead us in visiting Agra Fort at 3:30pm.
After an hour of freshen up, we headed to the fort. We were paying the individual entrance fee of 500 rupees when the rain started to fall. An umbrella was a helpful tool to keep us dry.
The local travel guides are necessary to point the exact location and explain the brief history of a certain place. They knew well the site so learning unfamiliar stories were so interesting with them. The Agra Fort was constructed primarily by Emperor Akbar in 15th century. Additions on the fort were made until the time of his grandson Shah Jahan, the successor leader behind building Taj Mahal.
The fort was new to my eyes. The thick red colored walls had shown me how the civilization look like at the old ages. It was like dreaming a fairy tale where I was the bravest warrior entering the fort aggressively. We entered the great gate which hid the beauty of the capital in the 16th century. The original gate padlock was still hanging at the door. There were three gates towards the inner part, so the conquerors at that time succeeded three levels of defense to penetrate. Currently, all gates are still functional for security inspection. I imagined how many warriors died on the location. Besides, the fort was believably surrounded by water with crocodiles in it. However, gun powder was already invented during the war so crocodiles failed to safeguard the fort’s exterior.
A hidden paradise was seen personally. We were introduced to the different buildings inside the fort. Each palaces and building mark their history as well. The curved and the designs were detailed and really astonished us. We saw the gathering halls, the royal family rooms, the old walls, wells, the terrace facing the majestic Taj Mahal, the communication wall, the mosque, gardens, and the most was the small and cute squirrels who were still occupying the place.
The rain was heavily dropping but the bulk of tourists visiting the site was unstoppable. I didn’t absorb all of the details that our travel guide was explaining but he left me something to search on.
We left the site joyfully with our eyes full of beautiful scenes of Agra Fort. Before dropping us back to our hotel, our guide led us to a gem and textile shop. He also led us to a shop which shows how they manually crafted gems on marbles. The shop owner explained their crafts were similar on how Taj Mahal was created. Each shop has items to offer with corresponding price. Souvenir items are quite expensive but the thought of their authenticity was respected.
At 7pm, across the road of Hotel Taj Vilas was a shopping mall which has McDonald outlet. Hoping to find a tasty beef burger I visited it. I stayed for few minutes watching the meal offered on the screen. I left disappointed that there was no beef burger but there were burgers with purely vegetables, chicken masala and chicken tandoori patties. India was indeed so interesting!
( Day 1 of my customized tour to the Golden Triangle of India last August 25 – 30, 2017. )