07 June 2009

One of the Wonders

Last we left off, our weary travelers were traipsing around India. I had managed to see everything I wanted to see up to this point (snake charmer, Ganges, cow in the street) other than the Taj. That changed yesterday.

Kristen and I took an exhausting trip to Agra yesterday where the Taj Mahal is located. As everything else in India it was quite the experience. Originally, it was supposed to take about four hours to get there including a stop for breakfast. Unfortunately, one of the people on our bus was sick and we had to stop many times for him to take care of business. Eventually him and his friends got off the bus at a McDonald's to get him back to Delhi.

We arrived at Agra at around 2pm and stopped first at the Taj which was equally crowded as well as stunning. Before we arrived I was telling Kristen that seeing the Taj was pretty inspiring as this was something that we have heard about our whole lives but never thought we would actually have the chance to visit in person.

After we headed to Agra Fort which is a UNESCO site and was very stunning as well.

One story I liked about the Taj and Agra Fort was the guy who built the Taj (which is a tomb for his wife) wanted to build a black one on the opposite bank. This was going to be too costly so his son overthrew him and stuck him in jail (Agra Fort) where he lived out his days staring at the Taj which he built.

After finishing up in Agra we had a six hour bus ride back to Delhi where we got dropped off in the middle of nowhere and had to scavenge to find an autorickshaw. After twenty stressful minutes of waiting we were driving around the streets of Delhi at around midnight back to our hotel.

Post script: We almost died as well. Our bus was about two inches from rear-ending a tanker truck full of gasoline which was stopped in the middle of the road. That was thrilling!

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India Pictures

Hyderabad -

Varanasi -

Delhi -

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Sarnath, One of the Big Four

A few days ago we made our way to Sarnath which is near Varanasi. This sacred site is where Buddha gave his first sermon after achieving enlightenment. To get there all we had to do was negotiate with the hotel manager for a few days for a rate which was high above the going rate, turn that rate down, catch an autorickshaw, kick out the guy who "helped" us book the autorickshaw, drive to the edge of the city, get sold off to another autorickshaw driver and take thirty minutes and drive there. Simple as that.

Once there we got to see the ruins of Sarnath, a pretty good museum with Buddhist artifacts and see the temple which was built on the site of Buddha's sermon. In addition we got to see some messengers of god (ie deer) as well. We stopped at the Thai Buddhist temple on our way back so I could get one last taste of Thailand before heading off. We stopped at McDonald's on the way back so I could try my new addiction of Maharaja Burgers...mmm...

All in all it was a good excursion from the craziness of Varanasi.

Later in the day we decided to take an evening boat ride. It had cooled off somewhat by then so it ended up being a very relaxing cap to our trip in Varanasi. Our boatman was very nice and was recently married to a Japanese woman (I'm not sure of the authenticity of this story, but whatever). After we returned to our hotel relaxing and ready for our long day to Delhi the next morning.

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