Sunday, January 22, 2023

Agra to Jaipur, India, January 22, 2023

I went to Agra Fort this morning.  It’s enormous, covering 94 acres but unfortunately only about 30% can be visited-

The first entrance-

The moats-

The second entrance-

The third entrance-

Walking up the hill past the outer walls-

The Jahangiri Mahal was where the wives and concubines lived-

The carvings in the red sandstone are exquisite-

The view from where if you look really close and use your imagination, Taj Mahal is in the distance.  Keep burning India!

Muthamman Burj is an octagonal tower close to the Shah Jahan’s private hall Diwan-e-Khas, the third building.  It was built for his beloved Mumtaz Mahal between 1631-40.  It’s made of delicate marble lattices with ornamental niches so the ladies of the court could gaze out unseen. The decoration of the walls is pietra dura which is the inlay technique of using cut, fitted and highly polished stones to create images.  The chamber has a marble dome on top and is surrounded by a verandah with a beautiful carved fountain in the center.

The tower looks out over the Yamuna and has one of the best views of the Taj.  Shah Jahan and his favorite (all these favourites) daughter spent the last few years of his life, imprisoned by probably not his favourite son, Aurangzeb.  He lay on his death bed staring at Taj Mahal-

The gardens-

The side view-

Pietra dura-

Inside where the fountain is in the centre-

The last place is the Diwan -I-Am which is the hall of public audience built between 1628-1635.  It’s made of red sandstone but covered in plaster to make it look like marble.  It measures 206 x 70 feet with nine arches on the front-

and three on the side-

Inside are 40 pillars making 27 huge bays-

and a throne made of marble where the king sat-

It was also built by the Mughal Shah Jahan in typical Indian/Mughal style with arcaded dalans.  That means the room has one open side overlooking a courtyard-

From 1803-1857 the British East India Company converted it to an arsenal - just imagine! and later it was restored. 

On my way out-

I was disappointed because it was so beautiful and there were only three places to see.  Today, the military occupies over 70% of the site.  

I walked to the train station about a kilometre away, past a slum-

and arrived plenty early. Eventually I found my car-

and got settled.  I had a CC ticket which means chair car with three and two seats per row.  It’s also air conditioned.  Too bad they couldn’t do something about the bathrooms or I could do something about my bladder-

There is food available and lots of masala chai.  It’s my favourite-

The countryside is field after field-

I had planned to walk to the Backpackers Villa but decided, for next to nothing, I’d take a tuktuk.  I was very glad I did because the traffic was nuts and it appeared like I’d have had to walk along a major highway for awhile.

My hostel seems nice.  There’s a rooftop “bar” where they serve chai and have a fire every night-

I was directed to a hotel down the street for something to eat. Inside it was an old but not rubby colonial hotel (from the British era) and I remember a movie shot in South Africa that had these kind of hotels and all the ex-pats congregated there in seclusion from the chaos outside. Another woman was sitting by herself so I asked her to join me. She is from the Byron Bay area in Australia and works with textiles.  This is about her 10th time coming to India and she finds locals who do embroidery work and then imports their fabrics. She was staying at the hotel.  I looked it up and could have stayed there too for double of what I am paying but where I am is just fine because I am with the locals and I like that better than being surrounded by white people when I’m not travelling in a white country.

I’m looking forward to seeing Jaipur in the daylight!

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