Travel with Me! India 2014, the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

I'M BACK! It feels like a month since I left and after experiencing India, I must say I am so grateful for everything I have at home. This was my third volunteer trip and I have been to many third world countries, but I have to say India was definitely the most challenging. I'll explain more on my volunteer posts. This post is about the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort!

All the Chiropractic students minus 1. 
We arrived in Deli after hellish flights and only got 1 day to do touristy things before jetting off to Siliguri to do our work. By hellish flight I mean everything that could go wrong went wrong!

1. Our group of 7 almost didn't make it onto our Perth --> Singapore flight because there was a random $8 surcharge on our tickets which doubled every time they tried to remove it.
2. Some of us exchanged money into Rupees in Singapore before finding out it is illegal for foreigners to take Rupees into India (silly or what?!) and then had to fight the money exchange ladies to change it back.
3. One of us wasn't allowed to check in to the Singapore --> Delhi flight because he didn't have a photo of his Mum's credit card which paid for his ticket.
4. We lost our luggage in transit and had a panic attack whilst we scanned the whole lost and found area before someone found them discarded next to the luggage collection train.

Stressful much?! I have never had such an issue getting onto planes before!

The next day we spent a lot of time cooped up on a bumpy tour bus and let's just say that was the first time I have ever seen someone spew out the window of a moving vehicle. 

This is our travel group of 7 out at dinner after finally making it to a restaurant in Delhi. We have been through so much together. We got fully ripped off by a guy on the street who pointed us to this restaurant which sucked and had a different menu for foreigners which must have been quadruple the price of what locals pay. Yanto ended up paying $40 AUD for his meal! By the way, every restaurant will charge you 30% tax which is only evident when the bill comes out. So be prepared.

Oh and the trains. You literally have to push and sprint both in and out of the train along with waves of people. I got separated from everyone else getting on the train (I must learn to shove harder!) and Yanto had to fight his way out of the train to stay with me till the next train. Thank God he did because you don't want to be female and alone in Delhi where there is a rape every 30 minutes!

Ok onto some more positive things! The next photos are from the Taj Mahal. Foreigners are charged 70 times the rate locals are charged to see it. However you do get to go into priority queues which is great because the place is mega crowded. Check out the hoards of people below!

First glimpse of the Taj.

Isn't it beautiful? It's glory has faded throughout the years (it was finished in 1648), but it's still a wonder. 

Long story short, Prince Khurram had three wives and his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal was his favourite. She bore him 13 children whilst his first and second wives bore none. His first two wives got gates erected in their honour, Mahal got the Taj built in her honour. Sooo... Have lots of kids? :P

The towers are built at a slight incline away from the main building. In case of an earthquake, they will fall away from the dome, rather than onto it!

These details are all around the Taj. They are not painted, each colour is made up of small pieces of gem stones, all tessellated together perfectly to make the pattern, similar to a mosaic!

The surface is perfectly smooth to most people, but not for sensitive chiropractic fingertips ;).

You are not allowed to take photos inside, but I snuck one anyway. It was very dark and eerie -__-. 

Everyone has to wear little shoe scrubs before stepping on the marble!

Overall, the Taj was beautiful and once told the process and the work that went into it, I was in awe. However the large crowds, noisiness and the beggars crowding the entrance were negatives. Tip- don't give the beggars anything, the money apparently goes towards the Indian Mafia.

Next up was Agra Fort! It is basically a red walled city and is huge inside. It's made of red sand stone and marble. 

One of my favourite photos! I'm laughing at something or rather whilst a whole group of locals are taking selfies with our friend Alan (the selfie king) in the background. "They never seen an Asian before or what?"

I love the look of old buildings.

Looks like a game of thrones setting!

The end of a long long day. Actually not quite the end. Next we were taken to a seedy carpet maker who took us into a basement where 10 men aggressively tried to sell us Persian carpets. It was hard to escape from the grasp but we finally left before realising we'd left one of our number behind. Oh India, such memories!

Have you ever been to India? Is it a place on your travel list?

At this point, despite the attractions, I don't think I will go back.

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