All back packed up, got my bags, and my snacks, now let’s make my way in. This looks like my train, that’s arrived nice and early, which is great, all I’ve got to do is find AC, and usually, he says hopefully, the AC is towards the, AC is towards the back of the train. For sleepers, sleepers.

Farewell Udaipur. I just hope I’ve walked all the way down, the right end of the platform, don’t you hate it when you’re right? I just walked all the wrong way, so I have to walk back again. So, my first night train, it’s this one here, when I can find my carriage, and it’s from Udaipur, to Agra, apparently it takes twelve hours, nice slow train, right across the country, well not right across, but from east, no west in Rajastan, to just south of Agra, Delhi.


And of course I’m going to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, wow I can’t come to India and not see, one of its most fantastic monuments. In the meantime, I’m walking the platform, looking for my, coach, okay so far I’ve occupied about seven minutes, just walking the wrong way down the platform, to the end of the train, it’s like, it doesn’t matter which way you walk, it’s always the other way, isn’t it? The gentleman here, he’s got all the names of the passengers on this carriage, and he’s gonna stick it on the side of the plane, train so you can find your seat, so I don’t know how he organizes his job, it must be, quite complicated. He’s got to stick the right of the paper on the right carriage, and there we go, hopefully he’s already stuck mine up.

I’m here, Simon Wicks, I am indeed, here I am, I would point, there, let’s just get in, okay, be in these things, I don’t know what’s going on, how do you know which cabin to go in? you just pick a cabin? I don’t know, I’m going in. This will do for the moment, I couldn’t see anything on the paper, I’ll go and check again now, I’ll be back, I can’t cart these around, let’s go and check the bit of paper again and see if there’s anything that says, where I should be. Okay, let’s try this one out, thank you, okay, now here I am, as far as I can see, that’s me, no, what’s your name?, I’ve got my name, there’s me, but which cabin? any cabin?, E-cabin, E?, E, E.

Everyone’s in E, E,E,E,E,E oh yes I get it now, upper bunk, upper bunk, cabin-A, cabin-A. Thank you very much, good job I got someone to translate for me, thank you, okay, somebody helpful as usual, I’m in cabin-A, so I have dumped my bags in the right cabin, and let’s see if there’s anybody else in cabin-A, it looks full, oh no hope they’re nice people, anyway nothing else to buy on the platform, let’s climb on board, okay, on time, it’s nice to be early. I have a quick tour the train for you, so, toilets, well we mustn’t use in station, you generally get, water and this is a, stand up toilet, that you flush, with water.

And obviously don’t use it in the in the railway station, and this one, western-style toilet. If you wan to sit down, or if you can sit down in a moving train, again, water that, in a little basin, there’s your, train toilet. Here we go, and a, I don’t know what that is we got a little chained off area, alright, or they lock people who don’t buy tickets or something in there.

Okay I’m in, I’m here, but I’m in to, cabin-A, two, three and four, there we go. So, you’ve got four bunks, at night time they are made up like this, lower, upper, upper bunk. like this one here, there’s fans, and this is the AC, so it’s aircon as well and you even get, for going up the bed, you don’t have to jump, you’ve got little steps look, go up the steps and into your bed, and they bring around bedding, which I’ll show in a little while, there is also, a table, lights, fans, a bell I think to call, plug socket, drinks holder, mirror, and close the curtains block out the light there we are and we are set for the night.

No more companion so far, we could possibly have two, top bunk on this side, bung my bags up, plenty space, I’m not the biggest, I’m not the tallest of people so, plenty of space, they’ll bring back around, bedding in a little while, hopefully a pillow, then I’ll stuff all my bags in the corner, my drinks in the drinks holder, then sleep through the journey to Agra. Welcome to the night train. We’ve arrived in Agra, after surviving my sleeper train, it was actually very nice, very quiet, I managed to get some good sleep, I was in the, first class aircon so, four people in a compartment, all nice and quiet.

It’s a twelve hour journey though, but I’ve arrived in Agra, now the usual thing, find my way out of the station, negotiate an auto rickshaw ride, to my hotel, and get some food. And, I’m, almost, out and yes do you want a prepaid taxi?, no, I’ll find a rickshaw, the rickshaw’s here, where do you want to go?, my hotel. Which hotel?, View Point, but I need a rickshaw, which hotel?, I have two tuk-tuk, tuk-tuk yes, yes, not a rickshaw, where are you going to go?, that’s a good question, hold up.

Dasaprakash, Dasaprakash, only one fifty, one fifty, okay. Okay, tuk-tuk rickshaw sorted, one fifty, it’s about the right price, and out of the station. And it’s Agra, and, we have a cow here.

I’m up early this morning, and I’m looking for a ride, to go and see the Taj, oh with any luck, this should be it. Good morning, I want to go to the Taj, climb in, how much?, , thank you. A short but cool tuk-tuk ride, surprisingly cool this morning, might have needed to put something warmer on.

I’m heading down, to see the Taj Mahal. Oh and, look at that queue, look at that, tickets I think are over there, people are everywhere. Oh, now, I got here before opening, but not before the queue started.

Well, it is, one of the most popular, sights in all of India so, not surprising, thank you sir. So, let’s cut through the queue, to get our ticket, and tickets, here we go. There’s a counter for foreign tourists, ticket counter for Indian tourists, here we go, in we go.

No queues now, everybody’s has got their ticket, and is queuing over there already. Good morning, ticket for one, do I have to pay extra for the camera?, no, it’s free, it’s free, thank you, one for you, thank you. free water free shoe cover free water free shoe covers Ah for the shoes, thank you.

Check your ticket, lovely thank you very much, and actually, you pay one thousand, five hundred, it’s entry, and five hundred tax, you see, there’s a very big line to entrance, yep, I’ll go and wait, it’s one kilometres longer, it can take three to four hours, wow, okay, you give me, I’m working the governments side, we’re officers who guide here, it’s okay, I’m okay without the guide, you don’t need to wait in line, it’s okay, I’ll just sit and patiently wait, thank you very much. See the women’s side, see this is my licence, it’s okay, keep going on, with me no need to wait in line, well, if everybody else has to wait I’ll wait. If they’re nice to you, they like to help you skip the queue, I hear it’s a one kilometre long, three hour wait, but I believe, if you go over this way, there’s a way in for foreigners, I think, but I’m about to find out, because everyone in this queue is Indian.

Okay, so just to prepare yourselves a little bit, there is quite, long queues to get in, although there is, separate queues for, men and women, and for foreigners who buy a priority ticket, i.e. a thousand rupee ticket, as opposed to locals, but make sure you get in the right queue.

Also when you get in, they do search and they are quite strict on security, tripods, metal items that they don’t understand or anything or don’t know what they are, are not allowed in. So, good that the security is tight, excuse me a minute, obviously he’s gotta blow his horn to get through, oh, he’s security, so we’ll not pick on him. So yes, when you go through security, they search, if you’ve got a bag on you they search your bags, and if they find metal bits and odd random things, so I of course had my steady cam, I didn’t bring a tripod, I thought maybe, I could hold it, no you’re not allowed it in, and a map of Delhi, was not allowed in, I have no idea why.

So you then have to walk, about eight hundred metres, from the entrance, when you’ve already queued and got in, to a locker room, which charges twenty pesos (rupees) to hold it for you for the day. So I’ve just walked down there, given them my twenty pesos (rupees), and my, steady cam and my map of Delhi, for them to look after, while I eventually now, get in to see the Taj Mahal. Now I’m not sure what happens now because I obviously queued, got in, went through got all the stamps and everything, then I had to go out, to put my steady cam, my things in the locker.

Now, you know, does it mean I can skip the queue and just go straight to the front? or straight through the entrance? I don’t want to check security again, I don’t know, but we’re about to find out, because I really don’t want, to wait in this queue again, I should have been more prepared. Anyway, when you come along, you can be more prepared now. Okay, gonna put the camera away now, while I attempt, to skip through security again, well not skip through, skip the queue, and get through here again.

And, I’m in! I am officially, inside the Taj Mahal, well inside the grounds of the Taj Mahal. Past the queues, past the ticket, past security, past putting things in the locker room then back to security and checked again, and I’ve just got my first glimpse, of the roof of the Taj Mahal. There it is there, so let’s go and get a closer look.

And this is the main entry, you come in through east, west or south gate, and then you arrive, here, I know it’s a bit distant but if you look through arch, where everybody is streaming, is the, Taj Mahal, peeking. Wow, it’s huge. There she is, the Taj Mahal.

What a view hey? The Taj Mahal, one of the most iconic, spots in all of India, certainly, when you think India, this is one of the things that springs into mind, that and sari’s and good food. But here I am, at the Taj Mahal in Agra, built by the Emperor for his favourite wife as a mausoleum, to house her body after she died, now that’s a sign of affection. Now coming to the Taj, there’s a few tips for you, that, to bear in mind, first of all, even if you come early there’s long queues, now if you’re a foreigner and you buy a foreigner ticket, what they call a privilege ticket, you can shortcut a lot of these queues, secondly, you go through quite a bit of security, obviously to keep the place safe, a lot of things like tripods, anything metal, certain written materials are not allowed in, If you do bring them with you, once you get through the ticket process, into the queue and then security, they’ve checked your bag and they find these, you have to go and put them in a locker room, which is about a four to five minute walk, outside again.

You deposit your things, pay twenty rupees, they look after them for you, then you have to walk back in, you don’t have to queue the second time, you show your locker ticket, that you’ve been stamped, then you go in again. But to bear in mind, that things like tripods, metal things, certain written material, is not allowed inside, so bring minimum possible, food is also not allowed in either, but if you get a privilege ticket, they do give you, a free half litre bottle of water as well, so that’s quite nice. Secondly as you come in, even if you come in early, it’s gonna be busy, I mean except in the wet season, the monsoon season, good time of the year, November, December, January, February or October, it is busy.

So expect that, the earlier you get the less, busy it is, but there’s still gonna be lots of people, but there’s still plenty of room to enjoy, it is a fantastic sight. As you go, into the first entry, you come to a big arch and you see the Taj Mahal, and then there’s some steps down before the water starts, like in this picture, and up to that point, and where I am now, right to the edge of it, you’re allowed to post and photograph, but you’re not allowed to post from this point, onwards. So you can only post from back here, and you can photograph, into the ground up to the mausoleum, and inside the mausoleum you’re not allowed to photograph or post anything at all.

Also going in to the mausoleum, at the end there, you either take your shoes off and leave your shoes outside, or they do provide shoe covers, over your shoes and you shuffle round, they look fetchingly like this. So, that’s a quick tour, that’s a quick explanation of the, Taj Mahal, if I think of a better way of putting it or if I’ve missed anything out, I’ll do another post, but in the meantime, here’s some shots, I took, mixture of post and photos because obviously, I could only take posts up to a certain distance, from there in the gardens, I have to take photos only, but here they are, so enjoy them, as I sit back, and enjoy this fantastic, bit of Indian architecture. The Taj Mahal, yes.

Good morning, ticket for one please. Good morning sir, excuse me, do you want a guide?, no thank you, no thanks. Got me ticket, missed the guides, now let’s go in.

I’m exploring some more of Agra, today, before I leave for Delhi. Obviously the Taj Mahal is the big draw card for Agra, but you’ve also got a couple other things, one of them right now is Agra Fort. It’s a huge fort, but only % of it, is currently open to the public and that’s a big area, there isn’t a great deal inside, apart from the fantastic architecture and big gardens, big open spaces big courtyards, palaces and lots of empty rooms.

But, it’s nice to amble round, I recommend again getting here early in the morning, partly to beat the heat, and you beat the people, not beat the people, but you get there before the people, if you, know what I mean. You shouldn’t beat the people. And that’s the ‘baby Taj’, which is also on the river.

You can also see the cows and buffalo and the people, washing laundry, there’s the baby Taj, there’s the laundry, that’s where we’re headed, that’s not too far, that’s good. Okay, so now it’s time for the baby Taj, which is the tomb of, there you go, opening of the monument, sunrise to sunset, and entrance, two hundred and ten, looks like this is the ticket counter. Good morning, good morning, hello, how are you? Good thank you, how are you? Fine, ticket for one please, ten more, sorry, thank you very much.

Thank you, have a good day, and through security next so I must put the camera away. Visit the baby Taj, again this is a mausoleum, to another beloved wife, built again with sand, sorry not sandstone, with white marble and ivory, the gates, are made of red sandstone, and is on the other side of the river, to the, Taj Mahal. Much quieter, much smaller but beautiful and peaceful, lovely place to come.

Entrance for foreigners is, two hundred and ten rupees, and I think Indians, it’s thirty rupees, entry, you’re also not allowed to take in, a lot of metal things or tripods or anything like that, so my tripod and everything, even my little tripod, I had to, leave behind, left with my my rickshaw driver, and I’m back to hand holding the camera. So, sorry if I’m a bit wobbly today, got nothing to steady the camera on, and I haven’t found anything to stand it on while I, talk to you guys. But, this is my last, last few hours in Agra, it’s been fantastic, the Taj Mahal, really is breathtaking.

The other things, you know, you wouldn’t come specially for, but when you’re in Agra, the Red Fort and the Baby Taj, are worth a visit, so, take a look round them while you’ve got the time, while you’re here, but obviously, go and see the Taj. Then enjoy the rest of Agra, it’s quite a mellow city, I’m going to, sit here for a little while in the shade, I don’t think I’m allowed onto the grass. Beautiful green grass, but I’ve got shade of a tree here and I’ve got a nice seat, so I’m gonna sit myself down, relax, just, spend an hour or so chilling out and enjoying, this beautiful view.

I hope you’re enjoying, our trip through India as much as I am, thank you very much to everyone out there, who has given me so much feedback about so many things, about information, about things, places to go, foods to eat, what the food is, it’s very helpful thank you very much. So, thank you and I hope you’re enjoying this ride, I’m now heading back to Delhi, where I’ve then got to decide where to go, I haven’t planned it yet, so, I’ll keep you up to date on that. In the meantime, let’s have a look around the baby Taj.

I gotta go through security, so I have to turn the camera off, back in a minute. And I’m on E, this is E. Alright I should be on, this list, I hope, oh, there I am look, Simon Wicks I’ve worked it out, it’s seat thirty three, look at that, oh it looks like a nice quiet train, that’s brilliant, so, let’s get on board, find seat thirty three, and I’m in, seat thirty three.

This way, or this way? I think it’s this way. Looking for thirty three, sorry ladies, I don’t want to, oh thank you, sorry, thank you very much. Thirty one.

Welcome aboard, the seat number sir, thirty three, just put my bag there, I hope, and this seat?, this one I think thirty three, okay, that’s good, thank you very much. Nice, quiet train, plug in the computer, do some work, or have a nap, who am I kidding? okay, here we go. Now, I don’t have technically have food on this trip, but I’ve still been given, green tea and masala tea, and biscuits, and s sort of cake of some kind.

They really spoil you when you travel like this, I can get used to this, but I am looking forward to a nice cup of tea, my throat’s getting, dry again. Welcome back to Delhi, a different railway station this time, but another nice, relaxing journey, in the executive class, really spoilt. Now it’s that time to join the throngs, escape the railway station, and negotiate an auto rickshaw to my hotel, which I’ve been informed should be no more than a hundred and fifty rupees, let’s go.

Look at that queue, I think that’s for rickshaws, let’s find one and negotiate a, sensible price. For five hundred no, no, no what about one fifty?, one fifty, okay. Oh wait, oops sorry, oohoo, this is a chaotic station.

Hello, friend. Okay, thank you very much, hotel booked elena? yes hotel’s all booked, book?, yep. Okay, let’s see what’s happening here, if you’re not quick enough, I’ll find another driver.

Hey pooch, don’t worry, there’s a good boy, hold on, let’s see what’s happening here, we going here, we going there, these are the hassles you don’t want, you just want to get in a tuk-tuk and go, let’s see what this guy has to say. Hey, hi, good evening sir, good evening, yes you are, where would you like to go? Arakashan Road, near the other railway station, the Arakashan Road?, yes there is a hotel you have booked over there?, yes all booked, you have booked it? yes all booked, okay, okay, so you don’t want to book over there? no I’ve already booked a hotel, don’t need to book another one. Okay Arakashan Road you’re going?, yes, Okay thanks, thank you, no.

No what? no go, okay. Okay, he doesn’t want to do it because they want to scam you on the hotel, so, we’ll just find another one, there is plenty so. So you’re gonna really have to watch your stuff here, so, I’m gonna find a little spot here, and see if we can find us an honest driver.

Okay, I’m gonna put this away for a little while, it’s getting in the way, back to you later. Look it’s my breakfast spot, Cafe Brownie, That’s what I’m looking for, breakfast menu, let’s get breakfast. Good morning, good morning how are you doing? how are you sir? good thank you, good.

I’ll have, same?, same as usual, okay please have a seat, thank you..

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