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Today was another early day. 530 start time to go on final safari drive. I have to say the system in which they book guests to jeeps is a little random at best. There were probably 20 guests this morning and as always they pick up groups, IE we are a group of 2. The go off to another hotel for another 2. Yet there could be a full jeep at each hotel. Kills alot of time first off. I say this because had we been 10 minutes faster we would have seen a tiger. She and her cub were seen by the first 3 jeeps and the rest of us missed out. We still count ourselves lucky as we saw 2 tigers and 2 leopards, which is more than most get.

We were back for breakfast by 10am and on the road to Agra by 11. We stopped in Abhaneri on the way to see Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri is a red sandstone city (called the City of Victory) built between 1571 – 1585 by Emperor Akbar on the same site where the birth of his son was predicted by the Sufi saint Salim Chisti. The city was abandoned after just 14 years when Akbar went to fight the Afghan tribes. It has a mosque and a hindu temple and in the mosque there are places for Catholics to worship. Akbar was an equal opportunity religion kind of guy. Apparently he was quite forward thinking in his views.

 

Kings gate outside

 

Inside view

 

Common man gate, notice the opposite here? King's gate are generally the nicer ones. Not here. The Common Gate is way bigger and quite nice indeed.

The Hindu temple

The Mosque

There are alot of unique latice work window screens all over the place.

In the Hindu temple there is a tradition to buy a local shawl, donate it and when you do you also get some cotton thread. You tie the thread in the screens and make a wish. We of course made a donation and made our wishes. You're not really supposed to take pictures where you make your donation. I snagged a sneaky one with no flash. You lay your cotton sheet offering out, place flowers on top and every day the priests collect the fabric and donate it to the poor. I saw an awful lot of fabric scarves being sold by poor people out front. I suspect they re wrap and resell. Oh well, we made donation to the poor. Probably way more important than the actual fabric.
 

Bhagawat our driver drove like a mad man to hit sunset at the Taj Mahal. He really does know how to handle these roads. At one point on the highway we were doing close to 100, in the curb and centre lane there were trucks parked. There was an oncoming truck in the only remaining lane. Yes a semi truck in our lane coming straight at us. He timed it so that we snuck through a very small opening and emerged quite unscathed on the other side. He turned to us and said “This is India. No problem!” That sums up the whole driving situation here. Chaotic mess but it works.

We did get one shot of the Taj Mahal. The sky was cloudy so no sunset. We elected to just go down the road and save the 1500 rupees each for entry. We'll do that at sunrise tomorrow and then do a full tour.

One shot to prove we saw it. Not a great one but good enough for today.

Tomorrow night we are on a night train to Bhandavgarh. So I suspect I won't be updating tomorrow. Then in Bhandavharh we are literally staying in a tree at the edge of the park. Again, pretty sure I won't have internet access there either. I'll still do a daily blog but again you may not see it for a few days until we return to bigger towns.

 

 

 

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