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22nd August

Got up about 6:30 and went out about 7:00. Took a Rickshaw into Agra, actually went to the railway station which was useful. The station master changed my Rs 50/- note. Anything over Rs 10/- is useless as no one has any change. I spent an hour wandering the streets which were mostly empty , it being still rather early for the busting trade of the day. I was shocked by the squalor and filth. Rubbish lying everywhere, pigs rummaging. I thought it smelled like sewerage, probably was.

Read more: Road to the Taj Mahal

22nd August

The Taj Mahal was build as the final resting place for Mumtaz Mahal, by her husband Shah Jahan, one of the great Mogul emperors.

The picture below was my first view of the white marble mausoleum and its four minarets, which I was told by my unofficial, self appointed guide who later demanded Rs 25/- for his services, are angled slightly outwards from vertical so that in case of earth quake they will not fall onto the sarcophagus of Mumtaz Mahal. I'm not sure whether that is true. Many experts have written about the design and layout and the history of this great place and I shall not try to repeat them.

Read more: The Taj Mahal

22nd August: A small town near the Taj Mahal

Outside and a few metres from the grand entrance of the Taj Mahal I found myself passing under a narrow arch and into a small town apparently unused to visitors.

Narrow streets, stalls on either side, tailors, millers, jewelers, sweets, fruit. Some of everything. Men, women and children going about their ordinary, everyday lives. Was this the real India? Is this what I had come to see?

Read more: A small town and a slow train
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