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: going to agra by train

the last stop in my golden triangle itinerary was agra, where the magnificent structure the taj mahal is found. from jaipur i travelled less than an hour by plane through jet airways back to delhi and had to find a place to crash through the night for my train ride to agra the next day.

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i checked-in at this budget hotel (palm d’or) which was very near from the train station.  it was late and i was starving and called room service.  i ordered some tomato soup and asked the room boy if they know how to make grilled cheese sandwich for i was not in the mood to eat local food.  he said they do and after a few minutes my meal arrived.   i was hungry and tired from my visit to jaipur – and just wanted to fill-up my famished tummy and sleep for a few hours.

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i woke up late the next day but had enough time to have a cold shower and was trying to condition myself for i will be having a 3-hour train ride to agra.  i had some black coffee that was offered at the reception of the hotel as i checked-out.  i declined to have breakfast for i fear of being nauseous while travelling for i’ve suffered motion sickness since i was a kid.

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the train station was jam-packed at the entrance.  people were busy moving about and some are just seated on the floor.  i did not even know where the main entrance was, and had to ask a guy in the security post where should i go.  i just noticed that some of the locals do understand english but are very shy when approached by a foreigner.  he gave a smile and pointed out the gate where i should enter.

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the train arrived and it was confusing which coach i was assigned to.  i booked one for first class and had to ask a number of people which cabin it was.  finally i was able to speak to a local guy who was travelling with his family and he showed me the right one.

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this is how the first class coach looks like.  a pillow and a blanket is provided.

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travelling with me was a young couple from the states.  they showed me an india guide-book and i checked on a page detailing the railway transit system.

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after a short nap i woke up as we arrived at agra north central.  i said goodbye to the couple i met in the train and we parted ways.  supposedly i have a complimentary pick-up transportation to the hotel that i will be staying on but i have waited for half an hour and it never arrived.  i took a taxi instead to my hotel.

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the hotel i got was okay but not that impressive.  it was worth the price considering it is near taj mahal and a restaurant and coffee shop shares the same building.  during my stay in agra, all i ate was pizza and pasta at pizza hut then sandwiches at costa coffee.  the hotel also has the most expensive internet wireless connection i have encountered – 100 rupees for an hour.  i asked them how much do i have to pay for a day they said 100 rupees per hour.  so i said for a day that will be 2400 rupees which was.. no, it was crazy!  i did paid for an hour just to get my status updated in my facebook account, hehe.

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early morning the next day was my visit to taj mahal.  it was a hazy morning as i took a short rickshaw ride to the place and had to fall in line for the entrance ticket.

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had to fall in line again while waiting for the taj to open.  women are separate from the men, men are separated from foreign and local.

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a little local boy with puffy eyes, tickets on his hand.  it looks as if he just cried.  i’m just not sure if younger children have free entrance.

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the first structure to see.

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even the entrance door to the palace is so meticulously artistic.

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a marker of the taj mahal.

i was so excited as i saw a glimpse of the structure.

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and there it was.

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one of the greatest palaces in the world, the taj mahal.

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: arya niwas

i stayed in an old renovated haveli (mansion) in jaipur.  hotel arya niwas is a two-star hotel that has won a certificate of excellence from trip advisor website.

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it was mentioned in their website that the main hall of the hotel is 150 years old, repainted in the original style.

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the hotel has a simple and relaxing ambience.

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i booked a standard single room with aircon.  wi-fi is available with a small fee.

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i had a seat in one of their wicker chairs in their lawn while having breakfast.

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omelette, baked beans on toast and hot cocoa drink to start my day.

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i also dined at their restaurant, chitra cafeteria.  they have this home-like meals that are afffordable and satisfying.

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they have this unique feature where they display the food – so that you will know the portion size as well as the product itself.

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arya niwas was a good choice for me in my stay at the pink city.