But, I thought, on the bright side, I could soak in some of the lovely countryside everyone keeps talking about. That was the day my NRI-ness decided to catch up on me, because all I could see as I peered out was filth, Buffaloes in filth, Kids playing in filth, water - with filth floating on top, did I mention filth? Honestly, was I so jaded when I was staying here that I didn't notice these things or had the place become drastically filthier in the past decade? (to be honest, I wasn't this shocked in Delhi. This was Delhi filth times 10!) I was now dreading stepping out into the city. Would my beloved Taj be mired in filth too? We had built this up so much in our heads (and the Kids' heads) that I didn't want to hear 'But Amma, it's so dirty!' from either of the little ones.
So, after we get settled into the guest house at Tajganj, we hired a local tuk-tuk to take us to the Taj. They did say it was a short 15 minute walk, but I did not fancy yelling at Pickwick and bossy baby to 'watch out!' and 'mind that dung pile on the road' and 'Stop petting that flea-infested dog!!' . We were greeted with a surprisingly short queue and shortly we fount ourselves at the Taj complex. My fears were totally unfounded. Not only was the complex spotless, the sheer beauty of the Taj dwarfed everything else.
|I can see what they mean by elegance|
|The garden and lawn in the complex were extremely well maintained, despite the heaving tourist population.|
|A bit of family history to amuse Pickwick: I fell into this fountain on my last visit to the monument - at the ripe old age of two. Pickwick is thrilled to know where he inherited the getting-into-trouble gene from|
|The Bossy Baby chose to re-enact 'Let it go' at the Taj|
We still had a day left in Agra, so we decided to visit the Agra Fort, another impressive UNESCO World Heritage monument.
The fort is a lovely red sandstone structure build by Akbar and his successors, but the original fort was said to have existed from the 11th Century. Our guide spoke only in Hindi, which meant I had to translate everything for Pickwick and the Baa-Lamb, but at least this meant Pickwick wasn't tempted to wander off and go exploring on his own. I really loved the history of this fort, some of which involved the Koh-i-noor, Shivaji's escape from captivity, Shah Jehan's Captivity, Mumtaz Mahal's demise and rampant fratricide.
|our Guide at the Agra fort|
|The Room near the entrance where havans used to take place at the behest of Jodha Bai - Akbar's wife|