The fact is we were gifted. Genuinely, the train left Khajuraho at 6.20pm on the 29th July 2011 – Perfectly on time – It pulled into Agra Cant’ at 2.25am the following morning; On time to the minute. That is a rarity in India and so we were grateful to be a part of history.
We had visited Agra on the previous trip and so for the in depth description click: http://thesummerholidayofalifetime.com/?p=204
Arriving into any city anywhere in the world at 2.25am is not a good thing. Arriving into India’s most visited tourist destination at 2.25am is seriously not a good thing. I had told Lisa on the train that we would be in our beds by 3am and was determined.
We jumped straight into a tuk tuk outside for 80 Rupees, the place seemed deserted, it was eerily hospitable and as we raced through the night we soon arrived at the Taj Mahal East gate. Tuk Tuks are banned and so we had to walk around the perimeter of one of the most recognisable buildings on earth at 2.40am. It was pitch black and we saw the Taj in blackness contrasted against the blue night sky. It looked every bit as beautiful as I had remembered. A few dogs tried to get funky with us and a police officer guarding the Taj Mahal but deep in sleep, awoke and came running through the dark with his AK45 slung over his shoulder and must have either spoke dog, or shot one of their mates the night before because they soon gave up and dispersed – Which was great really because none us could really be arsed getting munched on by some rabies riddled skinny arsed dog trying to show his buddies how hard he is.
The first hotel we tried for a room had no availability and neither did the next few. Eventually I found a place and was told 500INR each for the two rooms. I got them for 400INR and the guy didn’t even bother checking us in. It was basically a bed in a room with no covers, just before I closed my eyes I looked at the time 3.05am. We had done very well.
We awoke at 9am and set about the day. I knew our luck wouldn’t last and it was raining monsoon style. The priority was getting our bus tickets for the following day to Jaipur in Rajasthan and after everyone in the whole of Agra tried to rip us off we finally submitted and made the journey to the bus station and bought them ourselves.
After lunch we headed to the Taj Mahal (for info on tickets etc see last year’s post) It hadn’t lost its appeal and we had to sanitise our chins after scraping them off the floor. We spent a few hours in the grounds and it was every bit as beautiful as I’d remembered. Abi was a superstar and got her picture taken many times. Charlie appreciated the beauty much more this time and was in state of awe that man could make something this amazing. I commented to him that I couldn’t think of anywhere that is manmade and as beautiful on earth as the Taj. I still can’t.
As we left we walked under the arch that hides the Taj, I looked over my shoulder for one last glimpse of the most beautiful building on the planet – I saw both Charlie and Abi doing the same thing. Charlie asked “Will we ever come back Dad” I replied “you won’t with me, but you might when you’re older” to which he said “I’ll definitely come back when I’m older” – I smiled with a satisfaction that he was learning and with a gratitude that he didn’t realise he had given me.
Since last year we had done everything else in Agra we spent a few hours getting ourselves together and relaxing.
It was Maharas birthday and so Lisa and I decided on a nice Indian Restaurant a little way out of town, it served Southern Indian cuisine and felt like the perfect location for a relaxed birthday. As Lisa picked up the cake I got into conversation with the tuk tuk driver. I have no idea how we got onto the subject but somehow it turned out there was a Pizza Hut in Agra. Given the choice Mahara chose Pizza Hut which was to mine and the kids delight.
Whilst the Canadians ate Chicken wings, drank cocktails without alcohol and had fresh pasta, me and the kids in true British style dined on huge Pizza’s with cheesy bites, drank beers and couldn’t have cared less if we tried.
Lisa, Mahara and Jhad talked about how great the mango smoothie was whilst Charlie turned his sausage dog balloon into a hat which had a penis and two testicles at the front – Of course Abi fell for it and he laughed and called her a dick head.
It was a good night and the end to a good day in Agra – Mahara was 12 years old, we had been a part of History on probably the first ever Indian train to be on time, had been attacked by dogs under the shadow of the Taj Mahal, witnessed the beauty of the Taj Mahal during the day, felt the monsoon, felt 40 degree heat, crashed in a tuk tuk and finished it all off with Pizza and beer.
What a day.