Saturday, September 27, 2008

The journey from Delhi to Agra

Agra is the city in India where the Taj Mahal was built. I went there with Gopi (a student from my class), Nagib (a collegue from Australia), and Susmita (Nagib's girlfriend). We hired a driver to take us from Delhi to Agra for the day.

My trip to Agra was incredible, but not for the reasons I expected. The Taj Mahal was terrific, and definitely worth the trip. It's just that getting there and back presented the possibility for large blocks of time to be wasted, and those opportunities were realized to their full potential.

I woke up at 3:45 am to be ready for a 4:30 am pickup. The driver didn't know where he was going, so it wasn't until 6:15 am that I was finally picked up.

There was all sorts of traffic on the road to Agra.

When we got within a mile or two of the Taj Mahal, some sort of street festival slowed traffic to a trickle. People on the road were estimating it would take 2 hours to clear the offending intersection. This was incredible to me considering this is the only road from Delhi to Agra. The Taj Mahal is one of - if not the - most popular tourist destinations in the country. That a street festival could close this road was shocking to me.

Enveloped by the sight, sound and smell of traffic, we decided to abandon our car.

At 12:00 pm we got out of the car and told the driver to continue to the Taj Mahal without us, figuring that, even if the delay turned out to be 2 hours, it wouldn't matter. The driver was going to be waiting one way or another.

Riding around in a rickshaw, trying to get to the Taj Mahal.

So we crossed the road and hopped in an auto rickshaw for a harrowing ride through the narrow and crowded streets that approach the Taj Mahal.

The journey was well worth the hassle.

By around 1:00 pm we finally made it to the monument.

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