Up at 5AM we loaded up and took off for Agra. Just a year ago the road was a single lane, full of potholes and was an experience of 5 hours of near head-on collisions the whole way as traffic wove and raced in opposite directions. Because of the Commonwealth Games 6 months ago, the road has been remade. Two luxurious lanes in each direction divided by a barrier down the center. Along the center divide, twigs of straggley plants looked like they’d been planted 6 months ago and I don’t give them the summer!
Travelling past big blue Krishna temples and crossing the green fields that are the home land of Lord Krishna, on the bus we sang the Krishna song, “Govinda Narayana.”
In Agra, we checked into the Clark’s hotel and, after lunch, went to where we got 2 at a time onto horse-drawn tongas, or little chariots. The skinny little horses dashed through the busy road and ours even crashed into a road barrier almost flipping us over! At the Taj Mahal, we divided into smaller groups and entered the grounds. A festival was going on and the huge achrage was full of people. I loved the fabulous parade of gorgeous saris and fabrics that painted a beautiful river of colour all around the Taj itself. Inside the Taj a few of us stopped and stayed awhile, following local guides and looking carefully at the inlaid gems and stones that decorate the interior walls of the tomb. The acoustics are perfect and it was hard not to call out some noise just to hear the echo.
Flowing the flow out, we wandered back through the gardens to the west gate where we found the others and jumped onto our bus.
A couple of us opted to go to the hotel to rest while the others went to the Red Fort. The evening sunset was an unbelievable firey ball of red. I sat and had tea and watched it from my hotel room. I heard that that evening at the Red Fort was one of the most beautiful ever: the Taj Mahal shining pink in the dusty distance, and the walls of the fort radiating red in the magical red glow of the evening.