Feb 4, 2010
Clear, sunny, about 70 degrees
This morning we woke up around 6 in order to see the sun rise over the Taj Mahal. David urged us to hurry because this was not something we would want to miss. Our hotel is about one hundred yards away from the monument, so at 6:30 we walked over to buy our tickets. Men and women were separated into different lines because of the intense search process. Women were shielded from creepy male eyes by a blue partition. The woman in front of me had a pipe and a gigantic bag of weed, both of which were not allowed into the Taj Mahal.
Once we got past security, it was immediately obvious that David was right to rush us; the rising sun cast a pink glow over the tomb, and there were relatively few people wandering the grounds. The Taj Mahal is completely indescribable. It is of course, very large. But when you get close up, you realize that what makes it so mesmerizing is not the size, but the intricate and careful detail of the stone work. We took off our shoes to go inside, where pictures were not allowed. Beforehand, a guide had told us that the only thing that disrupts the symmetry of the compound is the location of the tombs. And it seemed like such a shame that the builder’s body was haphazardly thrown in without any care.
After returning to our hotel, we packed up and checked out, and called four taxis. The drive from Agra to Bharatphur was about an hour, and most of that was through densely packed urban streets where horns don’t stop blaring for even one moment. After a few nights in India, it has become obvious that there is only a brief lull in the noise from about 4 to 5 in the morning. Those are precious moments of silence.
In Bharatphur, we went to the Falcon Guest House, which is a lovely hotel with lots of small rooms. The owner had prepared us a very delicious lunch, and right afterwards we walked down the street to the bird sanctuary. Originally, the sanctuary was an area sectioned off for the king’s duck hunting, but now it is a national park. We rented very very rickety bikes and hired a guide, and went off along the bumpy path, stopping every hundred yards to check out birds or animals. The guide had an unbelievable ability to spot small animals even while biking over extremely rough terrain.
We got back to the guest house around 6, ate dinner, and immediately went to bed. This morning, we had yet another early morning, and got on the train to Jaipur, which is supposed to be a really nice place. We had quite a bit of confusion when we were trying to find our car, and we ended up just barely pulling ourselves and our luggage into train as it began to move away.