india chronicles: dirty pictures

i woke up early to catch my morning train ride back to new delhi.  i hailed an auto rickshaw infront of the hotel i was staying and asked the driver to drop me off at  agra cantt railway station.

passengers were waiting for the next train when i got there.

this is one of the trains.

a busy platform.

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these crows in the rail tracks were feeding on dead rats.  i was taking pictures of them when a man called out behind me. i looked at my back and saw that it was a middle-aged local man.  i backed out a little at arms length as a precaution.  he asked how was i doing and i said i’m good.  he then said – “are you taking dirty pictures?”  “what do you mean ‘dirty’ pictures?”  i asked him back.

he explained that tourists takes photos of dirty stuff and post it at the internet and tell the whole world how dirty india is.  he added that visitors should post nice things about india.  i was surprised of what he just told me and said from where i come from we also have dirty places – we also have dirty railway tracks.  i told him that it was the first time i saw crows feeding and it fascinated me so i took their pictures.  i smiled at him and said – “i went to india to see the taj mahal and it was beautiful”. 

i was left with good memories of my solo travel to india – and that will never be a dirty picture.

india chronicles: three tombs

there are a lot of tombs to visit in agra and I was able to see three of the well-known ones.

tomb of akbar the great

tomb of itmad-ud-daulah

tomb of mumtaz mahal

i took these last four pictures at mehtab bagh, which is opposite the taj mahal along the yamuna river and gives the mausoleum a different view.  it used to be a complex with a garden and fountains.  i was told that this site offers a good picture of the taj mahal during night time.

india chronicles: agra fort

after my visit to taj mahal, I have planned to see agra fort which was part of my itinerary for the day.  I realized as I went out of the mausoleum that I used a different gate  and it was not the one where the tuktuk dropped me off early morning.  I found myself walking on narrow streets and not even knowing where to go.  for a few minutes I just kept on walking, occasionally a tuktuk will stop by my side and the local driver offering me a ride but I just sort of ignored them.  I then saw a  tuktuk stopped in a corner street and I noticed that there were already passengers inside.  I assumed it picks up passengers (same in philippines?!) so I approached the driver standing beside it and told him – “agra fort”?  he nodded and I added – “how much”? he said “10 rupees”!

I then told him “noooo special! I go with them!” ( as I pointed a finger at the guys cramped inside his tuktuk.)  he looked surprised, I asked again how much and he blurted out – 2 rupees!  it was fun bargaining, it’s really not because I wanted to save 8 rupees but getting him convinced for me not to pay the “tourist rate” was a funny experience.  I then sat inside the tuktuk, took out my camera, positioned it infront of me and announced “picture”!!!”and here’s the result. 😀

after a short ride with my new-found indian friends I made it at agra fort.  the fort is a unesco world heritage site.

it wasn’t a friday so I have to pay the 50 rupees “pathkar” – whatever that is, hehe.

a welcoming structure at the entrance.

sometimes it also gets lonely being alone.

it shows here that part of the fort is under military occupation.

this is the hall of the public audience or diwan-i-am.

the octagonal tower, mussaman burj which actually offers a view of the taj mahal from afar.

macchi bawan, which used to have fountains, marble tanks and there were fishes.  also called as the fish enclosure – it’s all green grass now.

india chronicles: taj mahal

from the place where i was standing, the view was like the hazy sky was a canvas and the taj mahal itself was just.. a painting.  it was the main reason i wanted to visit the golden triangle – and felt this kind of excitement comparable to a kid seeing his birthday present.

this was the gate where all the visitors were crowding up for the reason of getting a good picture of themselves with the palace on the background.  i myself have to wait patiently to have my turn.

these ‘shoe covers’ are provided when you buy the ticket.  a bottled water is also included.

i started walking around, taking random pictures.

the details of the intricate design in the walls.

one of the pillars.

the taj looks the same on all sides.

photography is not allowed inside where the tomb is located.  i took this ‘blurry shot’ near the exit.

another one of the gates.

a closer look.

the yamuna river.

.. and this is what i paid for! 😀

india chronicles: picturesque rajasthani

majestic forts, monuments and temples was the main reason that i visited jaipur.  three days was not enough for me to visit it all but the ones i have seen have made me appreciate the grandeur of this main tourist destination in india.

my jaipur visit would never be that great without the help of ashish sharma, a local rajasthani whom i contacted through couchsurfing website.  there was a tour guide who approached him when we were in one of the forts and asked him how much i paid for his tour services – he told me he just shrugged him off for he did it for free!  i would highly recommend this trustful young guy to anyone who will need company if visiting jaipur – but of course you have to pay for gas for his motorbike!

india chronicles: jaigarh fort

i do not know how to drive a motorcycle and it has been ages since i last rode at the back of one.  ironical as it sounds, i took a risk of riding one when i was in jaipur.

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from the busy bustling streets of the pink city, my couchsurfing buddy, ashish and i traversed the concrete road to jaigarh fort, one of the famous three forts in jaipur.  i felt an urge to remove the suffocating helmet that ash bought specially for me to feel the cool wind in my face but restrained myself to do so for my safety.

the fort offers a majestic panoramic view of the sprawling city below.  it was said that the fort itself never came under attack during the course of its history.

the fort was too vast and i declined walking farther for it was getting hot and forgot to bring some bottled water.

these stone railings are a prominent architecture in the fort.

a flag flaps proudly in one of the towers.

a window opens up overlooking the mountains.

the fort is a must visit when you pass by rajasthan.

it was already midday and scorching hot as ashish took a picture of me as i sat behind these doors.  the back of my neck was sunburned but it was way worthy to see this historic place, jaigarh.

india chronicles: jaipur is colored orange

i went around jaipur with the help of ash, a young rajasthani whom i met on couchsurfing website.  he has his own dependable motorbike with him and i was kind of reluctant at first about the idea of going around the city riding a bike for i was considering my safety.  i took the risk though and i have no regrets doing it (and thank god for not encountering any mishaps).  ash, as he has actually boasted to me, was an expert biker.

jaipur, is called as the pink city for most of the buildings are supposedly painted pink.. but it’s not pink, it’s orange!

various establishments were still closed.

a store selling dresses and a bookshop.

the hawa mahal’s façade as seen in the street.  it is also named as the palace of the winds.

there was no traffic early morning but during the afternoons it can get really congested.

not all buildings were colored orange.

ash and i stopped by in a store that sells traditional lassi, a yogurt-based drink.

there are different variations of the lassi drink and the one that i tasted was sweet and has added rosewater.

it was creamy and tasty like a milkshake.

i also had some kachori, a rajasthani spicy delicacy.  it is a flattened round baked flour with stuffing on it.  i was not sure what was the stuffing made of but i find it delicious.