Archive for February, 2007

Disappointing

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

We’ve been asking various other travellers whether the Taj was worth the money or not, and the general consensus was that it shouldn’t be missed. Actually, both Kate and I were pretty disappointed with the Taj… for the money we were expecting amazing gardens and attached buildings with amazing interiors, but actually there’s really not much to the place other than the famous marble building that everyone has seen photos of so many times. Everything is highly symmetrical, which is not a quality that makes me go ‘wow’. The inside is not particularly stunning.
When I think of the other tourist attractions around the world, the Taj Mahal is way down on the list.
There was a moment when the light was no longer enough to support taking photos, most of the other tourists had gone, and the last traces of the sunset just hung in the sky and we suddenly understood what the Taj was all about. It’s a building of the night, and the heart and inspiration which went into it can’t be appreciated during the day. It was built as a tomb by a grief-struck ruler, and you can really feel the sadness when the light has almost disappeared from the day. The tomb feels peaceful and still at this point, and there is a huge irony in the lack of calm and rest that the poor recipient of the tomb receives daily with vast amounts of vexatious gawping tourists.

Many more photos to come!

Taj
Taj
Taj
Taj
Taj
Taj
Taj

We’ve had enough of the cold weather and rain which feels a little too much like home to us at the moment! Also, we’ve been told the south is much more pleasant than the north which is where we currently are, so tomorrow morning we’re off on a 40 hour train journey to Kerala in the South of India. You may not hear from us for a while!

Finally… the Taj!

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

We’re now in Agra, which is surpisingly hassle-free and laid back for such a tourist destination.
The Taj Mahal is unbelievably expensive, so we’ve been debating whether to fork out for the privilige. It costs 15 days accomodation in Varanasi for us to go in once! It’s 36 times more expensive for a foreigner to see it than it is an Indian national. The weather has been very bad… rain and grey clouds so it’s really not worth it at the moment, if at all! However, it is possible to get some views from the other side of the river on the north side so we thought we’d check this out first:

Taj
Taj
Taj
Taj
Taj

The Lonely Planet is way out on loads of information about this… you don’t need to pay to get into the park and it’s not remotely peaceful as hundreds of kids refuse to leave you alone and demand school pens, money and chocolate. I’ve never seen so much litter and pollution in one place as I have on the rivers surrounding the Taj, surely some of the extortionate entry fee could go towards cleaning this up?

Lovely

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

The Pakoras were great, and the family had great fun in dressing Kate up in a sari. It’s such a privilige to be accepted by Indian families and invited into their homes with no strings attached!

Nice Family
Nice Family

More kindness

Friday, February 9th, 2007

We were cycling though a village away from the tourist trail this afternoon, and we were invited to tea with Khajuraho’s very smiley postman. The whole village gathered to gawp at us in a friendly way, and then Khajuraho’s priest turned up who was very interested in us. He spoke reasonably good English… better than most of the villagers and we spent quite a while talking about Indian religion, astrology and mythology. I think the whole village fell asleep, but I found it all really interesting as I like to spend a long time reading about the western counterparts. Of course, there are many annoying interactions for the rest of the day, but it’s moments like this that make it all really worth it. We’re off to someone’s house this evening to sample their Pakora, much to their insistance!

By the way, I have tried to send several people emails today, but my mail server is blocking my emails. It’s to do with sending mails from dodgy India along with millions of spammers. I’m getting my mail server company to look into it, so please be patient if you’re waiting for an email from me.