It all started rather normally. A long 8 hour car drive from Pushkar. I wasn’t looking forward to it but it had to be done in order to get to the highlight of our Indian trip: the Taj Mahal! Esther was very excited and I armed myself with patience for the trip.
As predicted, the trip was long and rather uneventful. As we were approaching Agra we saw droves of people dancing into town behind slow moving pickup trucks. The trucks had huge loudspeakers blaring what can only be described as techno-indian music.
Apparently we had arrived during a big festival day and tonight they had the big bonfire party to destroy the effigy of some villain from an old Indian story. I had 4 different people try to explain it to me and that’s all I got. In any case our driver Kuldeep promised to take us there that night.
We had some food and rested a bit in the hotel. This also allowed us to avoid the part of the festival we’re they cover you in coloured dyes as a “blessing”. That’s a blessing with a very good disguise.
We arrived at the festival and cajoled Kuldeep into joining us. As we are foreigners we got to go into all the VIP areas and wander around freely. I took full advantage of this and wandered as freely as I could. I played the good old tourist card and “did not hear” some requests to not advance into certain areas.
As a result I got really close to some of the pantomime acting and a bit too close to the fireworks. I now proudly display a burn on my lip from the impact of a stray rocket!
All this crazineess wrapped up around midnight and we crawled back to our hotel where we had a few hours before we were due to go see the Taj Mahal. Our hotel was in the middle of nowhere and one of the worst places we stayed in India but it was ok that night for a quick few hours of sleep.
I’ll cut to the chase and just say that the Taj Mahal is one of the most stunning things I have seen. There are few times when a well known landmark has managed to take my breath away. Michaelangelo’s David, Mount Fuji and the Taj Mahal. All the ones I can think of. If you ever have a chance, go see it. At dawn. Amazing
After the Taj Mahal, poor Esther was not feeling well so we spent a day resting at the hotel until sunset. When sunset came around we went to the other side of the river to get another view of the Taj Mahal and to bring out Esther’s secret weapon: the T-rex costume! Suffice it to say she gathered quite a crowd while she danced around in the setting sun.
Later, it was time for beers, shisha and conversations as we said goodbye to our driver Kuldeep. We’ll miss him on our journey but it’s somewhat nice to recover some independence. We had a good night with him but when we returned to the hotel it was time for a bit of misery.
There was a big party going on in the lobby with very loud music until midnight and we also still had no Internet in the hotel. To top it all off, after a night of barely sleeping, we had no hot water and the breakfast was sad, to put it kindly. With this great mindset we prepared to spend 9 hours on a train on our way to our next destination: Kujaraho!