The City of Everlasting Love - Agra
While we were in Delhi this time during our crazy and epic drive, me and sister thought we should also may be drive out with the family for a day, someone mentioned the new [Yamuna expressway](h
While we were in Delhi this time during our crazy and epic drive, me and sister thought we should also may be drive out with the family for a day, someone mentioned the new Yamuna expressway and the plan was freezed in like two seconds, yes we are mad enough to get excited about being on road after 2500kms+ 3 drive too.
The expressway starts from Greater Noida and has only one entry, we stay in Rohini and thats like the other end of the town and it took us about 1.5 hours that too at 7:30 am in the morning just to reach the expressway start but we were able to find it pretty easily thanks to my most treasured thing when driving. Yes you guessed it right I am talking about google maps ;) How I love that app on my phone and one of the reasons I haven't upgraded my phone to iOS6 is because I will lose google maps...but as usual I digress.
Once we were on the expressway, it was delight through and through. Cemented 3 (infact I think 3 and half) lane roads, barricaded on both sides. We were constantly cruising at 150. At one point of time, hubby even mentioned this is so smooth and good, I am almost getting bored. The only sad thing about the roads was the fact that they were so deserted. I mean I think we saw just 50 cars on an almost 150km+ expressway. Ofcourse we weren't complaining on the lack of traffic but we were worried that if its not used, it won't be maintained well in the longer run.
What I also liked about the expressway is the fact that after every toll plaza (and there are three of them) there is a pit stop, a small quick eating joint and very clean loos, there is a janitor always standing there who cleans it just after u use. Hopefully this will continue as the usuage of the expressway increases too. We had breakfast on one such pit stop, took bread pakoras, veg puff and stuffed kulchas and eat it on the car along with hot tea.
After the quick breakfast stop, I took over the wheel from N and enjoyed the drive till Agra and I tend to agree with him after the 3 days of drive this did feel boring essentially because it was so smooth ;) Like he says we needed a better car, a car that can take us to 200kmph may be and give that trip (Warning : The whole road is cemented and not tarred and there is a greater risk of tyre bursting which can be a huge risk at high speeds. Please use caution while speeding. We have all terrain tyres in our car which we fill with Nitrogen and hence the risk is lower)
We made it to the outskirts of Agra City including the breakfast break in under 2 hours after entering the expressway. What happened after we entered the city is another story though. My heart pains to say that roads of Agra are narrow, broken and dirty which is such a contrast from expressway that it hits you right into your face :| After traversing through those lanes and struggling with directions (yes google maps came to rescue again), Can u beat it there are not many sign boards guiding to Taj? It's supposed to be a wonder of the world I thought, we did reach Taj Mahal parking somehow. The child saw the camel cart there and wanted to take a ride in one of those. So from parking to Taj was done in that and we all had fun like a child.
When we reached the ticket counter, I was ready for another shock. No one wanted to follow queues, garbage was strewn all around. It was shocking to see that this was the state of affairs just outside Taj, one of India's most important and popular tourist destination. It made me realize that why do all people have the image of India that they do. People were eating chips, throwing packet on the road when there is a dustbin right next to it and the security guards standing there will say nothing too. Food isn't allowed to be taken inside the monument and its stated on a lot of boards but people were still taking it and there was a huge bunch of discarded things lying next to the entrance because of that which includes discarded melted ice cream, imagine the mess it would make. Taj is a monument of pride for me, for me visiting it fills me with joy and happiness that its in India, I wonder why do people not feel the same?
The minute you enter the premise the scene changes though and what you witness is impeccable lawns, clean and tidy and oh so gorgeous. When you look at Taj, even with so many people around you know there is indeed something special about it.
Unfortunately I couldn't get around clicking pictures as I would have wanted, too many people, tried parents and a hungry and cranky child aren't things that can let you pursue a hobby :) So we exited Taj after a quick round of the monument.
After seeing Taj we headed for lunch to Ram Babu Paranthas (read the post linked here on the food blog for delicious Agra food tales) where we had a yummy lunch, following which we headed to Sadar Bazaar for a little shopping. After all what trip is complete without having to see what the city offers to its shoppers ;) We picked up a bag, some footwear and so as Agra is also famous for its leather. We also visited Meena Bazaar and picked up a gorgeous marble mortar and pestle and some coasters.
Post all this when we saw the time it was already 5:00 pm and hence the plan to visit Fatehpuri Sikri had to be ditched :( and we started our journey back which was largely uneventful and the same kind of drive. We reached back home at 21:28 after clocking 508kms on road.
PS: this is my third post as a part of Marathon Bloggers, we are posting one post a day, Wanna join us ? here is the FB group
PPS: Here is the link to the xls with our travel data.