Agra: Baby Taj, Taj Mahal and Sleeper Trains

Friday, 26 August 2016

Hey hey I'm back with my third edittion of my South East Asia and this time I'm in one of the places with India's most famous monument. Agra, and visiting the Taj Mahal. And I always excpect monuments to disappoint but they never do and the monuments of Agra are no exception. I loved all the places I went to in Agra actually, and all the food so all round it was a happy Izzy.

 Agra itself isn't a very big place, it's a small city and one that's full of tourists only really going to and from one place, the Taj Mahal. It was a pretty place though not at all like I excpected. I thought it would be a big sweeping city with buildings surrounding the Taj, hotels overlooking and people bustling 24/7 but it wasn't at all like that; though not in a bad way.
But first on our list, to get us more excited for the building we were really here for was the "Baby Taj" (I wrongly called it the Mini Taj in my video) which is actually the Tomb of  Itmad-ud-Daulah. It was built before the Taj Mahal and is in a similar style, hence why it's called the Baby Taj. 
While we were visiting it was a beautiful hazy evening and the light around the place was just perfect. The whole place was stunning. This building actually had a lot more detail in the stonework and a nicer interior than the Taj Mahal but I guess it's easier to do detail on a smaller building. And as with most Islamic architecture is so beautifully symmetrical. 
 Then the next day it was a nice early start at 4am to walk through the dark to queue for the Taj Mahal. Which was completely worth it as we were the first one's in there. I can't tell you how nice it is to be at a huge monument without a million people crowding and shoving. We had a group picture with no one else in it and though it was a white out of a day, with no fountains on and scaffolding on the towers of the Taj it was still so worth being there.
For some reason I wasn't expecting it to be as big as it is. It is so so so massive, unbelievably so. And so beautiful. Though the inside is crowded and dark and small and wasn't a very nice experience but one I felt I had to do while I was there.
 Though one thing that disgusted me was finding out that Indian Visitors to the Taj not only have a separate queue at the back of the place but they actually have to pay more than foreign visitors. I can't believe they think that's ok.

That night was my first experience on a sleeper train which wasn't the best night's sleep I've ever had. I'm glad I did it but I'd definitely book the next cabin up in future. These were three tier beds which are  super crammed and have no doors or even curtains; so your feet (and bags) were exposed to everyone else . I did wake up in the middle of the night to two guys eyeing up our bags but I made sure they knew I was awake.
I have to say since this I've been on much nicer sleeper trains with space, air-con, and a lock on the door. But at least we had clean bedding and a fan. And though as a vegan I shouldn't be saying this I recommend getting yourself a silk sleeper if you're planning to go on sleeper trains, it's just very nice to have something of your own to sleep in and they're especially helpful if you end up on a slightly suspect bunk. They just make you feel more safe and at home.
That's it for this little post on Agra, hope you enjoyed it. This was part of a group tour with G Adventures through India and Nepal which you can look at for yourself here. And as usual I have a little video diary to accompany this part of the journey which I hope you'll have a little watch of.

I will see you in my next post on Tuesday. Don't know what it's going to be, though I do know next Friday is another post from Agra all about the lovely people at Sheroes Hangout so check back then for more!
Thanks for reading!

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