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ExploringRTW
30-04-07, 11:21
Agra & The Taj Mahal

16th - 22rd April

On Monday we were up at 5-ish with plans to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise and hopefully with fewer people. The Tuk Tuk we’d arranged the previous night was late but still managed to get us there for entry at 06:10. Despite the early start there were still more people than expected but the sunrise was very good and presented some nice opportunities for photos, the higher-than-expected number of people fortunately not being enough to spoil the shots.

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Sunrise to the east of the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal, as you would have expected, was beautiful and we spent about 2 or so hours looking at the detail that had been included in its design.

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No words to describe such architechture and detail really so feast your eyes on the following shots.

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Note the difference a few minutes movement in the suns position can make to the colour of a shot...above and below.



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The detail is amazing as these next few shots show.

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The entrance way to the Taj itself

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This Mosque is on the west side of the Taj Mahals grounds.

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Would you credit that this road actually leads to the Taj Mahals entrance !!???

After that we went to a local 5* Hotel for a buffet breakfast as we were tired of too much low quality food and slow service. Whilst not astounding, breakfast was nice.

We then did some shopping and had some more Internet time, follwed by a trip to the local Pizza Hut and finally back to our Hotel. Sylvia was keen to see the fort at Agra so she and I took off for an hour or so to see it. We came back and picked up John and watched the sun set on the Taj from a river bank, which was also very beautiful. We then departed for dinner at our best-so-far restaurant in Agra, finally returning to our Hotel to pack and prepared for leaving early tomorrow.

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Agra Fort.

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Note the detail-this is carved out of stone !!

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Sunset !!

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....and finally.



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We managed to get ourselves together again for the early start but the promise of the hotel manager being ready with the bill for 7 o’clock didn’t transpire and had to be called to come in and prepare it. In fairness he did come in and do it quickly and so we were able to leave by about 07:20 to take breakfast again at the 5 star Hotel we enjoyed yesterday. By about 08:30 we were under way and managed to find our way to the Dehli motorway reasonably easily, albeit we were temporarily hampered by the direction guidance of a few tuk-tuk drivers…….I’ve no idea where they thought they were directing us as we wanted to go due west and they sent us North East, fortunately the GPS doesn’t lie and we soon found our way back to the main highway. That reminds me, the Motorway to Dehli is more reminiscent of a well worn and potholed duel carriageway that would have been found in England during the 70’s. We got to the outskirts of Dehli quite early and the Hotel we’d agreed upon could be accessed by a ring-road which appealed to us all. We found the road the Hotel was supposed to be on fairly quickly but nobody, including the highly esteemed Tuk-tuk drivers, knew where it was…….which is a reasonable sign that it no longer exists!! Our guidebook, Footprint, is driving me up the wall. So many things they recommend are either gone or the quality has changed so dramatically it would almost be better to take pot-luck than to put any real faith in it. John and I were melting. John was actually shaking when we stopped at one Hotel to ask directions and we were both finding the heat tough. Sylvia is better than us in the heat. (But apparently suffers more in the cold.) Once we’d decided the Hotel wasn’t here anymore I just wanted somewhere out of the heat. Almost within seconds of this decision Sylvia spotted a Hotel just behind the road we were on. Soon we’d checked and agreed on some rooms and were drinking ice-cold Kingfisher(beer) in the restaurant next door. Ahhhhhh.
We had dinner and retired all drained from the heat.

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Two hot and very sweaty bikers in Dehli.

After breakfast the following day we set off to the Chinese embassy to collect our Visas that had been arranged in England. It transpired that the Embassy where the Visas had been arranged needed to confirm by Fax our details to India for the Visas to be issued, but the person in England was waiting for us to get to Dehli before they would sign the papers !!! and they are now out of the office until next Monday, 23rd April.

After a little thought we decided to stick to our original plans to leave tomorrow and visit the Tiger sanctuary at Corbett and return to Dehli and the embassy early next week. The rest of the day we did our own things and met up for dinner in the evening.

We set off for the Corbett National park the next morning at 08:30, and despite the size of New and Old Dehli’s we managed to make our way across the cities before it got too hot and there was too much traffic, however an odd misfire and occasional cut out that had started with my bike just as we arrived in Dehli a few days ago re-appeared and was gradually getting worse and worse which made any sort of idling at traffic lights almost impossible. The whole ride for the day was only to be 150 miles and so we were all optimistic for an early finish…but the mis-fire got worse and worse until the only speed the bike was running normally at was around 60-70 mph, which, if you’ve read our previous reports on Indian driving, will know that this is suicidal.

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Some of the interesting vehicles and sights we saw on the way to Moradabad.

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The horse is actually galloping !!

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Finally we were close to Moradabad, the last major town on the road before turning towards Corbett, the tiger sanctuary, and my bike was behaving very badly so we decided to stop for some lunch and for me to check my bike over…….meanwhile over lunch we decided that we might as well stay at the Hotel which we were eating in as this would take any pressure off me and us to ride later in the day. After a few initial inspections under the seat and around I was confident I’d found one of three problems. Two of them the results of rats chewing our wiring in the port Mumbai, one being to the air sensor, the other to the fuel tank, and the third being the centre-stand switch re-route coming away from the junction box I’d used when I short-cut the failed switch in Alaska. I repaired all three and hoped for normality to return-it didn’t but whilst I was considering what might be wrong, Sylvia and an interested member of the Hotel staff standing in the opposite side of the bike informed me that there were flames shooting out from under the faux petrol tank. The faux tank panels off and a closer inspection revealed that the rubber inlet manifold on which the fuel injector rests had given way and torn…badly. Approximatley half the inlet had torn and was vibrating very badly, letting loads more air in than usual and hence the fire ball flashes. (Sorry but forgot to take any photos !!) Fortunatley John and I included one of these in our spares kit after discussing possible failures with a Canadian chap we met at a Horizons Unlinited meeting in Canada, 2005. Rene had advised us that his girlfriends bike inlet had failed and it took them ages and quite a lot of money to get one shipped to South America. So we thank Rene for his advice and I rejoiced at the simplicity of the problem and easily resolution. The new one was fitted and my bike returned to normal running again.!!! Hooray !!

We had dinner at the Hotel which was also being attended by a General in the Indian army-the General had apparently bought some new shoes today and one of his soldiers had to carry them in for him from the car !!! There was a fair bit of banging about in the area above ours and so I complained twice to the reception desk. The response wasn’t immediate but it had quietened down by the time we wanted to go to sleep. We think it might have been rifles being banged on the floor in some sort of ceremony.

We got up a bit later than normal the following day as we only had about 60 miles to do. We got off and surprisingly enough found many signs for the Corbett National park. In fact, probably more signs than for any other site we’ve wanted to see. The park itself is named after an English Hunter, James Corbett, who realised that the ever-dwindling number of Tigers were not infinite and so became a conservationist, hence the protected park. This protection though does not stop hunters still trying to kill the remaining tigers and the wardens apparently are in shooting wars and have hit one repetitive hunter with a barrel-load of shot in his nether region !!

Mike

wildbeeste
01-05-07, 19:09
Great pictures and a useful write up - Will be going that way in September

wildbeeste
03-05-07, 16:39
As a result of your experience I have just cancelled my order for the Footprint guid to India - Amazon have taken weeks to deliver it anyway.
Just off to read the rest of your adventures now - probably a better guide anyway:rob
Good luck
Paul
:thumb2

richie
08-05-07, 20:04
We should be leaving Ireland mid october for india too. But four up in a discovery

rc mad
08-05-07, 20:53
great pics, reminds me of when i was out there, loads of us in two tuktuks racing to the taj at 6.30 in the morning, utter chaos :D