Agra

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Before the morning light, a taxi drove us to the train station. A quick security check, an occurrence common to any public activity I’ve found, a few minutes wait, and we were on our way. The trains themselves are perfectly clean, and a fantastic way to watch the countryside sweep by, passing from city to city. We were afforded a fantastic sunrise over farmland dotted with occasional houses and scrubby trees, casting a sheer hay-colored light from the horizon. Any chaos from the city quickly disappears, though the occasional whiff of a particularly acidic foul smell (common amongst the developing world) wafts from the stations reminded us, we are still in India. But it is so beautiful, especially in the early day when the light is soft and the sun not yet oppressive. I’ve been looking forward to train travel, where I can lose myself in the affair of observation, the ride to Agra did not disappoint. The morning was spent entirely wandering around Agra fort, or rather, what wasn’t “under military occupation.” Despite the 100 degree heat and hoards of tourists making photography an interesting art of framing and dodging, it really was beautiful, ornate, and extravagant. In this case I was glad to have a guide as had I been on my own, I would have relied heavily on the lonely planet descriptions (if that) and wouldn’t have learned as much a I did, though if I’m being honest I’d have to admit I’ve forgotten much of it. Regardless, it was an excellent way to pass the morning. Pictures below.

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Then, of course, as is the reason we’ve all come to Agra, or perhaps even India itself, we see the Taj! I had expected it to be fantastic, but it truly was above and beyond any of my expectations. The size alone is nearly impossible to convey in pictures. We stayed for the sunset, which was worth the visit alone. And, a check off another wonder of the world!

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