Agra, Bharatpur, Mathura


Dairy Entry

The Taj Mahal stands as an epitome of enduring love on the banks of Yamuna. No photograph or written material can give one an idea of how it feels to stand in front of this colossal mausoleum. Very similar in its intricate craftsmanship is Jehangir's marble palace in the Agra fort. The keen eye these rulers had for art and architecture makes one wonder if they actually engaged in conquests and warfare or handed over these heavier responsibilities to their Generals. 

 

 

The monuments in Red sand stone at Fatehpur Sikhri, built by Akbar are equally enchanting and in very good condition. The striking use of various Inidan/Hindu motifs and images like lotus, swastika, etc and the very commonly seen arches and pillars of the Gujarati and Rajput style in most of the buildings speak volumes on how smoothly traditions and cultures blended. They reflect the remarkable ability of our nation to strengthen and grow itself by wholeheartedly absorbing external influences!

The visit to Keoladev national park (Bharatpur) early the next day morning was a refreshing experience. Changes in the ecosystem, hunting (before the 70s), a couple droughts in the nineties, etc. have drastically brought down the number and variety of birds visiting this place. The woods looked more like a museum; standing testimony to what once existed here. Surroundings were serene none the less. A big hoarding in the middle of the sanctuary had a long list of Kings and British generals and the number of birds each one of them shot during their visits. There were people who had astounding counts of five, six thousand birds shot using 40 guns, etc.!  

It simply leaves one awestruck to witness in person the sight of hundreds of these birds taking off, filling the air with their harmoniously resounding calls. If this inspired people to pick up a gun and shoot, what else can one call if not the height of sadism.

Next in our itinerary was Mathura. Mathura and Brindavan are twin towns on the banks of Yamuna. Mathura is the birthplace of Krishna, while Brindavan is where Radha lived. Both are dotted with a number of temples, old and new. The value of money in these parts proved quite a surprise. A sumptuous brunch of Puris and rabri costed Rs.15 ! Cycle rickshaws here have only 2 predefined tariff rates - Rs.10 (for shorter distances for 2-3 KM) or Rs. 20 (for upto 5 KM).

As our old driver in his sixties, maneuvered hard to drag his rickshaw through the extremely crowded and narrow lanes of brindavan, he called out in his loud baritone, "Radhe, Radhe", asking people to give way. (Every passerby refers to one another as 'Radhe' here). It reminded me of a tale, I’d read long back. When a saint refused to receive Mirabai, since she was a woman, Mira replied saying, "I did not know there was any male in this universe save god; and the rest all females before him" (The lord being the only creative principle, the bhakti tradition regards all souls as caught in the passive illusory realm, yearning for union with him). It almost seemed like everyone in this sacred little town, have had a priceless realization.  

 


Itinerary

Day 1

Reached Agra by Train in the evening. Lodged in Agra

Day 2

Visited the Taj and Agra fort. Visited Fatehput sikhri (40 KM, 1.25 hrs)  in the afternoon by Taxi.

Day 3

Reached Bharatpur (60 KM, 1.5 Hrs)  by bus around sunrise, sight seeing on cycle rickshaw, Reached Mathura (35 KM, 1 hr) by bus,  Auto ride to Brindavan (12 KM, 20 min), Return to Agra (50 KM, 1.5 hrs)

Day 4

Train to pune.

Tips:

Stay and food are no issues in Agra. Lodges in the vicinity of the Taj can be relatively costlier, although there are budget hotels everywhere. 

Everywhere - outside rail/bus stations, near tourist centers - you will be followed and pestered by all kinds of people : Hawkers, auto drives, gudies, etc, etc.  Develop patience to handle them and enquire about rates before paying anyone.

Sadar bazar is the best place to shop. Marble artifacts are a must buy. The 'chat gulli' in the bazar offers incredible variety. I tasted some of the best chat in my life ever: Pani puris better than anywhere else, Dahi gujia (similar to wada, but a whole lot softer), Bhalla, Paneer Cheela (A kind of dosa made of dal- similar what is called 'adai' in tamil), etc.


Album

Marble inlay work (Agra fort)Anup talao (Fatehpur)

Central pillar (Diwani-i-Khas, Fatehpur)

Painted storks (Bharatpur)

Thirsty monkey (Brindavan)