In addition to the world famous Taj Mahal, Agra is also home to an excellent historic fort. The exterior is built out of sandstone and looked amazing as the sun began to appear this morning. I’m beginning to get used to seeing monkeys everywhere but a particularly large quantity of them seem to reside in and around the fort. Our guide Ravi warned us not to look monkeys in the eye as they can become aggressive. Inside the fort was amazing. Every time we tuned a corner there seemed to be a new section of palace, balcony, viewpoint, courtyard, garden or fortress. Apparently much of the original detail has been preserved. Agra Fort has supposedly retained more original features that the famous Red Fort in Delhi, which was damaged by the British Army. Only about a quarter of the fort is open to the public with the remainder still be actively used by the Indian Army but what we saw was impressive. Ravi told us that the Agra Fort was home to lots of Mughal emperors. One such was Shah Jahan who commissioned construction of the Taj Mahal, which you can see across the city from the fort on a clear day. However following a power struggle Shah Jahan was deposed by his son and lived the rest of his life under house arrest in a wing of the fort. It all sounded a bit like real-life Game of Thrones.
It was then back onto the train for a ride through the Indian countryside. Here we saw an abundance of agriculture, plenty of cricket games, some nice and some not so nice scenery including loads of rubbish, and vultures devouring a dead cow! After a short bus ride, we were in Orchha. It’s a small town located on a river. At sone point in time Orchha must have been a significant place as there are old temples and palaces all over the town.
Ajay took us down to the riverside to get a good view of the sunset. This involved walking across a long and quite narrow bridge which was also shared with traffic. If a bus passed by, it was definitely a case of breathing in and hope that you were nudged onto the rocks or into the crocodile infested water below! We then visited the colourful Ram Raja Temple to see a Hindu prayer ceremony. Some of these things can go on for a while but this service seemed short and to the point. Afterwards we had another nice meal. No meat was offered due to the restaurant being in the proximity of the temple. However you could have an not on the menu beer if you sat in the back room.
We were staying in some sort of semi-permanent tent in Orchha. It was more of a clamping setup though. The rooms had a telly, fridge, fan and hot water. However the tents certainly weren’t soundproof. We could loudly and clearly hear some free entertainment with a nearby wedding in full swing. Indians seem to do weddings in style. There was a light show, lots of cheering, beeping horns, drums, bangers and some dreadful sounding techno music.