Unforgettable Memories on the Way to Taj Mahal
We, eleven Delegates and our hosts, left New Delhi at around 6:15am to Agra, to visit Taj Mahal. It is more than 200 Km in distance, and we were told that the trip would take us around 4 hours by bus. We were very exciting to the see the people, Indian lifestyle, the real countryside and the “Taj Mahla or Crown Palace”, one of the Seventh World Wonder. It is summer and we expect temperature higher than 40 degree.
The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage. Taj Mahal is the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Turkish and Indian architectural styles (Wikipedia).
The bus left in the east direction of Delhi. What we could see along the way is the poor picture of hard life of Indians rural communities, the chaotic traffics, the rubbish and the polluted water ponds and water ways. It was very surprised for me to see with my own eyes the hardship of these people and parts of India. I have heard all these stories, in the past, from my friends who have visited India before, but “pictures speak louder than word”. It is quite true in this regard.
We stopped for Breakfast along the way in a vegetarian restaurant, at 9:30am. Indian food is unique, with lot of ingredients, chilies and curry. Most Indians eat normally with fingers, not with spoon and forks or chopsticks. Our two colleagues (from Thailand and Laos) have problem with their stomach because of the food.
I must say that my stomach is not bad and did not create much trouble for me in the past three days, though I have eaten everything offered. After having breakfast, we continued our trip. We have just reached half of the way, after three hours. I start to worry about our time management, since we do need to return on time to catch the flights back home, at 23:30pm. But, the bus is old and the driver is also an old man. He drives very slowly. In the driver cabin, there is a place where the co-driver can take a rest and sleep. I have never seen scene like this before. We reached Taj Mahal at around noon time. Our planned arrival schedule was 10:30am. We stopped at a hotel to meet our guide and grabbed some water. Suddenly, the bus and the driver disappeared and we could not contact them. We assumed that they might go for lunch, without any warning to the organizer. It is strange! Then, we were left on our own. The hotel provided the transportation and we were able to visit Taj Mahal, for about 2 hours, under the hottest sun. It is an impressive building with impressive architecture, representing the great love of the builder toward his wife, in the sixteenth century. It was very hot; it was probably “the hottest temperature (42-43 degree) I have ever experienced in my life”, said a Chinese delegate. It is true for me too.
After visiting the marble monument and having lunch at the hotel at 2:30, we left for Delhi at 3:20pm. With about 5 hour’s non-stop drive, we would expect that we will reach Delhi around 8pm. Our driver drove first slowly, but steadily and sometime rudely. They stopped eating at one restaurant without informing us or our host; it was not a friendly way for a driver of a tourist bus company. We felt that we were left alone with our worries and concerns with flight schedules. It was also very windy evening, the dust and the dirt were up in the air and we could hardly see anything. Finally, we arrived in Delhi and reached our hotel short before 9pm. Though, tight schedule, we managed to catch the plane and went back home; with unforgettable memories of the poor landscape along the way, the great Taj Mahal (UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983) and the strange behaviors of our bus drivers. “Incredible India”.