The Cruise

World cruise on the Dawn Princess starting in Sydney on May 21, 2010 and sailing west around the world for 104 days.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dawn Princess World Cruise 2010 - Wednesday June 9, 2010

Day 20 Delhi to Agra
Our wake up call was at 4.15 this morning. After a breakfast of fruit and pastries we arrived at New Delhi station to catch the 6.15 Shatabdi express train to Agra. The station at this hour of the morning was a real eye opener. There were masses of people everywhere. Some families were still asleep on the platform floors, others in brightly clad saris were rushing to catch trains, porters balancing several pieces of luggage on their heads manoeuvred their way among the bustling throng. Announcements over the loud speakers never ceased and Sikh engine drivers with their beards and turbans smiled out the windows of their trains on the multitudes who keep them in work. The trip to Agra was uneventful, and on arrival we were met by our coach and taken to the Jaypee hotel. Again, we found ourselves in a luxurious hotel although the bed and pillows were not to the standard of the previous night. This hotel was low rise and spread out over luxurious grounds. Each room had a balcony that looked out onto the gardens. We were given a substantial breakfast on our arrival, after being given a red circle of welcome on our foreheads. At 10.15 we left to see the Agra Fort. This fort had two moats around it when it was built 400 years ago, and these moats were filled with crocodiles and tortoises to keep the enemy at bay. The inhabitants of the fort could also pour boiling oil on their enemies below. The fort was built by the mighty Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great, and is really an amalgamation of palaces and buildings. The architecture of these buildings is amazing. One of the buildings where Akbar housed his 300 wives and many more concubines there are windows to allow air to enter the rooms but from the outside you cannot see the window – it looks just like a sold piece of sandstone. One of the buildings was a prison for the fifth Mughal king, who was actually the king who built the Taj Mahal. One of his sons killed his brothers, imprisoned his father and made himself the sixth mughal king. From his prison the fifth king was able to see the Taj Mahal in the distance. This was the mausoleum he had built to the love of his life, his first wife, who always accompanied him everywhere he went. When she was to give birth to their fourteenth child, he had to go away on business and she died in childbirth. He was inconsolable,
and had the Taj Mahal built for her resting place. In the afternoon we went to see the Taj Mahal. It was even more beautiful than I had imagined. Pictures cannot do it justice. Besides being made of white marble, it has been decorated with flower motifs, made of semi precious stones such as lapis lazuli and onyx. It was an incredibly hot afternoon, so after we had looked extensively at the Taj and taken innumerable photos, Bill and I found a cool spot to sit. While we sat, Indians kept coming up and wanting to have their photo taken with us. Our guide told us that they will go home and show the photo around to family and friends, showing them their new European friends. Some just wanted the photo, others wanted to try their English. Many Indians speak English but the ones from the countryside seem to be less fluent or know only a few words of English. I have fallen in love with India. I love its beautiful world heritage monuments, I love its aromatic smells and its foods which are created with the most wonderful spices, and most of all I love the people. Even the poor people are always smiling and waving. They are a gentle, virtuous and happy people. (Barbara) I should say a few words about our wonderful tour guide Vissal (as in Wissal overcome!). He was a middle-class Indian, rotund and jolly with a liberal view of his Hindu religion and all other religions. He was attentive to all in bus 5 – we were always bus 5 and, therefore, last to arrive and depart everywhere. He was a story teller and painted great word pictures of ancient battles between opposing sides with their horses and elephants. (Bill)

1 comment:

  1. I also fell in love with India in 1979. Have never been back since. All I can do now is cook Indian food!! But we will have a day in Mumbai when on Oriana later this year. I saw New Delhi, Agra and the Taj - just like you. Unforgettable!!