Saturday 29 April 2006

India: the Golden Triangle - Bharatpur

A major diplomatic incident was narrowly avoided this morning. Mrs M’s trousers, laundered at the previous hotel, had been pressed with razor-sharp pleats in the middle of each leg. Without removing the trousers, she frantically squirted precious ‘wrinkle release’ on the offending vertical lines and finished by dabbing with a damp flannel. Crisis averted. Not sure if the hotel staff suspected anything, but during breakfast a waiter carried a tray of burning wood around the dining room to ward of evil (trouser?) spirits.

We have visited many Taj Mahals in our lives, but today we visited the real thing. Every rogue in Uttar pradesh works between the car park and the main entrance, so after beating them back and paying the relatively huge entrance fee, we breathed a sigh of relief as we entered the site. We dripped with sweat as we donned little booties to go into the stunning marble building which brought a few minutes of relief from the sun. We rested afterwards in the gardens and noted a man collecting discarded booties from a bin, no doubt to flog them to unsuspecting tourists or make soup. Two hours was sufficient in the intense heat, so we fought our way back to our ever-patient driver and headed in an air-conditioned manner to lunch.

Post buffet, we drove to a wonderful ghost city called Fatehpur Sikri. Built in the late 16th century, the town was abandoned after a few years due to a lack of water (after a few years??). The architecture is stunning and the highly ornate red sandstone features of a working town can be clearly observed. Perhaps the most interesting site we have visited in India.

The pool screamed out to us as we arrived back at the hotel to reflect over chilled drinks. An evening of telephonic traumas later highlighted the inadequacies of the national network.

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