Back on the Shatabdi Express but this time to Agra, once the capital of the Mughal dynasty. Awakened at 4.30 am to leave at 5 am!, Delhi station almost as hectic as before despite the early hour. Hoardes of people sleeping in the entrance area!
Arrived Agra Fort, the Red Fort built by Akbar on the west bank of the River Yamuna, by 8.30 am! Huge fort built by Akbar in the 16th century with two 'extensions' added alert by his son and grandson. The later additions quite different in style, especially the latter which used mostly marble. Again part of it inaccessible as used by the army! The Taj Mahal just visible in the distance despite it being very hazy.
The Taj Mahal, built in 1630 by the Mughal Emperor Shajahan and dedicated to his dead wife and as her tomb, took 12 years to build with the heart broken Emperor working with a Persian architect and with 20,000 craftsmen brought from Baghdad, Italy & France. Probably the most extravagant monument built for love. He could see it from the Agra Fort when imprisoned there.
Even though it is such a tourist attraction it is everything you would expect. Don't know why we were surprised but it was great to see more Indian visitors than tourists from abroad. Great photo opportunities of course!! And again our celebrity status meNt we were much in demand for group photos!!
We decided to have a relaxing afternoon so took a refreshing dip in the hotel pool followed by G&Ts with Sue & Janet in our room before dinner.
Pratap took us to a local restaurant where we were met by a musician and a precocious boy dancer of about 9 years old. Had a delicious Rajasthani meal and were further entertained by a simple but fun puppet show. Ended up with us buying a couple of their puppets! We were also shown how the Rajasthan man's turban is worn. It consists of 9 metres of material and is wound and twisted on the head securely. Quite amazing!