Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Agra

Agra has got to be one of the most touristic cities in India as it is home to one of the seven wonders of the world: The Taj Mahal.



This picture perfect monument draws approx 20,000 tourists per day! And no one leaves disappointed. The moument was errected by Emperor Shan Jahan as a memorial for his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal who died whilst giving birth to their 14th child. The building started in 1631 with 20,000 people working on the it and it wasnt completed for another 22 years in 1653!

At the time the Taj Mahal cost 32 crore rupees to build. That converts today into over a billion dollars!!

Due to the amount of pollution in Agra the Taj Mahal began to loose its colour so had a face lift not unlike one a normal Indian lady will have herself. They washed the outside in soil, cereal, milk and lime to restore the building back to its original colour. 

The prices are a little exxy though. For tourists you pay a hefty 750 rupees ($25AUD) for entry whereas Indian citizens only pay 20rupees ($4AUD) entry! 

To get to the Taj Mahal there are loads of rickshaw drivers who are never far away or you can stay nearby for realitvely cheap. 

We decided to make Agra a one day trip. We arrived in the morning after a long and stomach churning bus ride from Haridwar that took 11 and a half hours. The bus had definitely seen better days. The seats were all covered in dust and cobwebs and all of them were broken. The only available place to sit (or try to sleep) was a sleeper bunk at the back of the bus. When you are travelling by bus you want to sit anywhere so long as it is as far from the back as you can. The buses have no suspension so any little pebble on the road can be felt. Needless to say in our stale smelling little sleeper compartment we got no sleep at all and we acquired a few bruises as reminders of our lack of sleep.

Even though we were leaving on a train that night to Varanassi we decided to still get a room to at least get a few minutes of sleep in. It was a bit pricey at 400rupees ($8AUD) just for the day, but the place had a nice veiw from the rooftop restaurant. 

Once upon a time you had to take off your shoes and leave them on racks once you entered the Taj Mahal so you wouldn't damage the floor- only to find your shoes being sold at a street vendor down the road on the way home. So to stop the "shoe thief" situation the officials give you trendy little slippers you put on top of your shoes.

When you sit down to take in the entirety of the building be sure to watch your belongings as cheeky monkeys are never too far away. 

As spectacular as the Taj Mahal was it was probably a close tie with another impressively huge, monumental masterpiece. India's greatest creation next to the Taj Mahal: A 1.3 metre long Dosai!!
We got the creation from a restaurant called Laxmi Villas in Agra for 550rupees ($11AUD). Even though we had prepared for it by not eating breakfast, the "family dosa" made for 4 people was still too big for us. They even had to put two tables together in order to fit the monstrous creation on the table. 
The Chef looked so pleased with himself when he bought it out, and so he should be!

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