The train we caught to Agra only had sleeper class. There are eight different classes of ticket on Indian railways and sleeper class is second from bottom, above it you have; First AC (very fancy airconditioned beds), Executive Class (very fancy airconditioned seats), Second AC (fancy airconditioned beds), First Class (fancy airconditioned seats), Third AC (airconditioned beds, three tiers), Chair Car (airconditioned seats), Sleeper (fan beds, three tiers), Second Seating (fan seats). It wasn’t exactly a luxury, especially not for 12 hours, the difference in price between First AC and Second Seating is 11 times the cost. We watched a couple more episodes of House of Cards before attempting to sleep, Harri had slightly more success than I did but that’s not saying a great deal.
We arrived in Agra after very little sleep and made our way to our hotel which was situated very close to the Taj Mahal. When we arrived (a little before seven) the doors were locked, we knocked and it was opened by a bleary-eyed member of staff. He proceeded to wake up an English-speaking guy who proceeded to be one of the rudest people I have ever had the misfortune to come across. Granted nobody likes being woken up however that was still no excuse for the way he addressed us. He demanded to see our booking and when I showed him a print screen of it he said that wasn’t good enough, I then couldn’t get their wifi on my phone which had the booking on so I had to get my laptop out to try and load it on there (all the while I was wondering where their booking confirmation was). Eventually after much huffing and rudeness we were allowed into our room a good couple of hours before actual check in. We then had a quick shower before crawling into bed for a couple of hours sleep.
We woke up feeling slightly rejuvenated and went for breakfast at the hotel, my breakfast was fine however Harri had a hair in hers, she sent it back and got an omelette, we still had to pay full price though… We then walked the five minutes down to the West Gate of the Taj Mahal and enquired at the ticket office to whether or not we could purchase a ticket for tomorrow (no we couldn’t) and what time did the ticket office open tomorrow morning (0445 and the gate opened at 0525). Happy with the answers we went to Agra’s slightly less famous tourist attraction the fort.
Agra Fort was one of the most impressive sites we had visited to date, there architecture was very impressive, the fort also gave us our first prover view of the Taj, you could see it down along the river, it looked beautiful. It was a huge complex and we spent well over an hour just wandering inside, by the time we finished we were hot and in need of some lunch.
For lunch we headed back towards our hotel and selected a place with a very friendly proprietor who was very thankful for our custom. We had daal, a fruit and nut curry (13), rice and chapattis and then spent another hour or so chilling on his rooftop which had an excellent view of the Taj. We then went back to the hotel to chill for a little while before then going out for a walk, down to the river for a different view of the Taj, we had actually hoped to get a boat to take us out into the middle of the river but it wasn’t the season, the currant was far too strong, even a motor-powered police boat struggled to make any headway going up river. We stayed there a while before going to find some dinner.
We went to another rooftop restaurant where we were able to watch the hazeset (similar to a sunset) whilst enjoying channa masala (14). There was also an amazing natural phenomenon, about halfway through our meal hundreds of bats (each had the body the size of a 1L water bottle) flew across the sky, they kept flying past for a good few minutes, I have no idea where they were coming from or where they were heading but it was one of the most incredible natural sights I have witnessed whilst travelling.