Another early start as we were taking the 7a.m. train. I was prepared for the train journey to be nightmarish but was pleasantly surprised.
However it is difficult to ignore the child beggars who populate the station.
We left the train at a small town called Baratpur and were delighted to find our coach ( and luggage ) waiting for us. The rest of the journey was a 2 hour drive which we interrupted to visit a most interesting fort/palace called Fateh Sikr. It was built in the 15 th century and took only four years to complete. It was not only vast but was built entirely of red sandstone that was most elaborately carved.
The Rajah who built it lived in it for only 14 years and it was then abandoned to gypsies and squatters of all kinds for centuries.
Sometime in the fifties a team of historians rediscovered it and with the aid of UNESCO it was cleaned up and is now open to the public.
We are now arrived in Agra? Once again shocking scenes of squalor and poverty. The area approaching the Taj Mahal is an area of low caste Moslems with open sewers and appalling scenes of homelessness. People can be seen living on the street. Many women work in the shoe industry and work in their “homes”. Men hardly seem to work at all. We saw men lying full length in the street apparently sleeping, but modt just seem to stand or sit around.
We saw these scenes on our way to see what is known as the Baby Taj, a beautiful memorial with lovely gardens.
The gardeners are women!
Tomorrow we see the Taj Mahal, and Agra Fort!