I woke up early and rode to a hotel in the Taj Ganj area where I could access a rooftop and watch the Taj Mahal begin to glisten as the sun rose. Unfortunately, the early start left me tired and cranky as I endured an annoying process to enter the site. First I was forced to park my bicycle about 700m from the entry point, despite their being plenty of locals’ bicycles parked at the entrance. I parked my bike, walked back to the entry, lined up for my ticket, and then lined up to enter. I wasn’t allowed in because they had a problem with the Ortlieb bag I was carrying. I was also not allowed to take in a drawing pad and pencils. In fact, all I was allowed was a camera and bottle of water. I had to walk about 400m to a cloakroom where I had to pay to have everything else stored. Finally, I got inside the front gates.
I immediately ducked around the side of the entrance and proceeded to set up my video camera for a quick video shoot. I was confronted by security again and forced to pay a fee for having a video camera, and then rent yet another locker space in which I had to store my video camera while I properly explored the site (you are only allowed a video camera within a small area at the entrance). As I walked towards the Taj Mahal, I was instantly bombarded by prospective guides who took some encouragement to go away. Free from annoying touts, I then had to endure the tourist crowds. At one point I had just sat down on a park bench to admire the view when a guy came up to me and told me to move away because I was in the way of his picture. All this aside, the Taj Mahal is something you just have to see. It truly is the most beautiful building I’ve seen and the grounds surrounding it are stunning.
Escaping the Taj Mahal, I retreated to a quiet restaurant for lunch to recoup some energy for an afternoon battling more tourist hordes and touts, this time at Agra Fort. Again, annoyances aside, the Fort is absolutely incredible and I enjoyed exploring it just as much as I did the Taj Mahal. I hired an audio guide headset to learn about it as I walked. The details and grandeur of the place is mind-blowing. How incredible it must have been in its heyday!
Patience exhausted, I returned to the peace of home. I set about repairing my front tube, which had a pin-prick hole causing a slow leak. Job done, I asked for a bucket of hot water and enjoyed a soothing wash. Finally, I ventured out to Time2Eat Mama Chicken for another delicious dinner: chilli chicken, veg tandoori momos and fried rice, followed by an ice cream.
|Distance ridden today||14.44km|
|Average cycling speed||13.5kph|
|Total distance ridden||17,677km|