We were in Agra! Finally! We could see Taj Mahal, India’s most famous building from our hotel’s roof. We’re so happy: even tough we had such an amazing view, we were so close to Nepalese border as well. We had Annapurna track at fingertips. We had. Only for a moment. The earth shook and our plan fell apart…
Buying tickets to Nepal
After a long night on the train we arrived to Agra from Ajanta Caves. We were very excited as Nepal was getting closer. Right after the arrival at the railway station we went to the ticket offiice to book tickets to Goraghpur which was next door with Nepalese-Indian border. It turned out that we had to wait until 10am to buy tatkal tickets (tatkal – last minute ticket, can be bought 48hrs in advance). We came to Agra at 7am so we had 3 hours waiting. Seemed not long, but after all night spent on uncomfortable bed (too short and narrow for Chev!) we still needed some proper sleep. All we wanted was to have a ticket which would be a pass to another country that we couldn’t wait for. 10 o’clock, Tatkal now for sale. Tickets for cheaper class which we used to buy (sleeper class – the cheapest one avaliable, but still okey) were sold out so we had no choice but to buy last two tickets. Unlucky for us AC 2-tier tickets were 5 times more expensive than the cheapest one. We looked at each other, thought twice and desperately bought it.
The Earthquake and series of unanswered questions
Our accommodation was in Taj Ganj neighbourhood right next to Taj Mahal. We dropped our backpacks and went to take a shower straight away. It was before afternoon at local time. Chev sat on the bed and after some time asked Anna if she had been moving the bed. Confused Anna looked at Chev and then at the walls and floor… Her first thought was that room was hounted. Everything was moving and shaking and bed was spinning around. Chev without thinking twice shouted to get out from the building. We were scared, but 1 minute everything stopped and we returned to normal. After few hours we were sitting in the restaurant on the roof top with 2 polish girls we met. One of them had a text from sister about massive earthquake which took place somewhere in the middle of Pokhara and Kathmandu in Nepal. We didn’t know what to do. What about our Annapurna trek? What about Himalayas? Nepal itself? We were confused, media kept giving informations about dead people and numbers were getting higher from one hour to another. 8 thousand people died and over 19k was injured, many buildings collapsed. Huge tragedy in such a poor country. What we wanted was to go there, but not for fun anymore. We thought about going there and help somehow, but there was a high risk of aftershocks and we didn’t think our families could manage that too. Moreover, our insurance didn’t cover such kind of activiity. Another thought was to go to Lumbini in Nepal (near the border) – stay there for a while, monitor situation and then decide what’s next, but it was getting worse with every minute and there was a high risk of epidemy. Finally, we decided to leave India definitely and postpone Nepal for a while. Our choice was Thailand…
Here some words about the biggest attraction in Agra, Taj Mahal. Probably not everybody knows that, but this one of the most recognizable buildings in the world is… a tomb. Building works started in 1632 on order of Mughal emperor Shaha Jahan. Empire was on the north of present India. Main religion there was islam, not hindu as what we think when we have picture of India. Wife of Shaha died while giving a birth of his 14th child (she was 36!). To give the proof of his love Saha decided to build the most beautiful mausoleum in the world. Taj Mahal is built out of white marble brought from many places in Asia. It’s perfectly symethric, surrounded by 4 minarets that are tilted away from Taj in case of an earthquake. Towers are nothing more than decoration only. On the east and west side of the Taj are two big red buildings: one on the west side is a mosque and one on the east side is fake mosque – it’s only there to keep symetry in balance. Taj Mahal is surrounded by gardens with wery long pools and fountains.
Geomatics in Taj Mahal ?! 😀
Something for surveyors. Laser scanning is known in India. Even Taj Mahal has been scanned! 🙂