Day 5 - Apr 9 - Agra - Mathura

Day 5 started with all of us tired and with everyone wishing to rest. But the place to go was Agra and not to be missed for anything. So we all jumped into the Qualis for another 3.5 hour drive in the sweltering heat of UP.
The driver who came for driving us around was actually a nice guy named Raju. He drove cautiously without going overspeed and respecting at least most of the traffic rules. But since he almost slept off during our return, I asked my brother to get a new one for Agra. After a lot of going back and forth, the cab guy sent Raju again for driving us to Agra. It was not a very nice scenario and the driver complained already. So we started a bit shaky with a slightly grumbling driver.

So when he stopped the car near Palwal to tell us that he left all the papers in Gurgaon itself, we were not surprised. He called his 'malik' and then told me that we will enter UP as if nothing is the matter and hope that no traffic police stops us.

The heat was unbearable in Agra which we entered after a crazy traffic chaos. We went straight to Agra Fort and there was absolutely no crowd whatsoever. We had the fort almost all to ourselves and had the first look of Taj from there. The Fort was well-maintained and literally has a lot of small snippets of history which were very interesting. Like the golden bell of Jehangir or the stone thrones.

From the fort it was a short ride to the Taj. The parking lot was surrounded by the camel carts and the horse carts. It was terrible to even park the vehicle with all these guys surrounding you to take to the Taj gate in one of these carts surrounding the car and trying to literelly pull you out and push you into one of these. It was irritating and for someone visiting Taj, probably once or twice in the life time, it is absolutely disgusting.

We started the lunch when the driver informed that Taj will be closed that day at 3PM due to some VIP visits. It was 2.30PM and we started running to the Taj after taking a camel cart to the gate. But the policeman at the gate said we have time till 4PM. So we slowed down and try taking in the vision of Taj into the mind for remembering.

After seeing the tombs, completely dehydrated, we walked around the monument and watched the site for the black Tajmahal across the river and sat down to chew on the experience. After a few more minutes, the entrance was closed and people started trickling out. By the time we reached the pool in the middle, almost most of the crowd has left and it was amazing to see a Taj devoid of the so many heads.

After spending time till 4PM when Taj was closed, we slowly get back to the car and started off to Mathura, where I promised Sibi that I will show him the birthplace of Krishna. So we drove to Mathura and the Krishna Janma Bhoomi temple. Its almost like a garrison and I can see the improvements in the temple in the past 11 years when I visited the temple last. The temple is almost changed with addition of a small theme park style exhibit, lot of shops, and more crowd.

We went around and actually the temple was better than what was in my mind from the visit 11 years back. Of course, nothing beats a Radha-Krishna temple and you can just spend all the time looking at the beautiful idol decked in green costumes with that glint of romance seeping along with the realization that it is love that conquers all. Amazing place.

It was almost night when we started back and we reached Gurgaon without any incident and the realization that Day 6 is going to be a no-travel-day, we hit the bed and slept before you can say 'hmm'.

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