Once back in Delhi, I really felt like I could handle the chaos and the noise. It was a huge difference the way people treat you when you aren't wearing a big back pack. The place I was staying in was called the smyle inn which was clean, affordable and sold water at reception. The staff were a bit grumpy so after our day of exploring the markets we decided to move to the hotel next door. Turned out to be a good decision!
Our second day in Delhi our hotel manager and newly acquired friend, helped us book a private car to Agra to visit the taj mahal and Agra fort. Our drivers name was prem and he was a complete fiend behind the wheel. Ducking and weaving his Toyota van past motor cycles, cows, camels, rickshaws and cars. These guys are pros. It takes 4 to 6 hours to Agra and prem would have had to be on the ball the whole way.
When I got to the taj I took a lot of snaps of the surrounding architecture. There are lots of myths and stories about the taj which are pretty interesting. One of my favorite ones is that there were plans to construct an exact negative of the taj from black marble. There has been black marble excavated from the surround area and many 'official guides' will back up this claim.
Standing in the gardens looking up at the taj was a real hallmark in my life. Seeing a world renowned famous icon such as the taj was surreal. A word I have used often to describe India, yet just fits so well. To see it in the flesh and see that it was real and not just something from a postcard, was significant for me.
After the taj, the next tourist attraction was Agra fort. It was used for military purposes and then later was lived in. Its really big and has windows that overlook the entire city. You can see the taj mahal on the horizon. The contrast between the old temples and buildings and the traffic below is quite cool to see.
The train ride from Delhi was an adventure. We went with the cheapest option and rode cattle class with the general public. No a/c or free refreshments. I was offered chips, water, soft drink, samosas, chai and hash and cocaine. I declined all of these offers. Tom, however opted for some sort of fried sandwich he described as 'not very good'. After a sweaty 6 hour train ride hanging out with a group of 30 something men who acted like teenagers bubbling with excitement and a cute little 6 fingered girl, we arrive in orchha.