From peaceful Udaipur to chaotic Agra

The night before last we caught the overnight train out of Udaipur to Agra, another trip on the trains that we really enjoyed.  Hopefully we manage to put up a few more photos of Udaipur that manage to capture the beauty of the buildings around the water at sunset. It turned out to be about the most relaxing place we’ve been so far and has been thrown into stark relief by the bustle, noise and dirt of Agra.

Here is a cool link to a local Udaipur newspaper showing a few good places to eat breakfast. Reading this perhaps you can imagine what our stomachs are going through!! Fried sweet batter for breakfast, anyone?

At the moment in Agra we are staying here at home-stay accommodation provided by a Sikh family away from the city centre. It has been a great opportunity to peek inside the home of an Indian family and ask all the questions that have come to us in our travels so far. The house is run by three elderly brothers and they live there with their wives, a son and the son’s family that includes two very bright and cute kids. Over a wonderful dinner one brother explained the origin of the Sikh religion which was very interesting. Basically it came into being 350 years ago as a reaction to Muslim persecution of Hindus towards the end of the otherwise secular but Muslim Mughal period. He explained that Sikhism is  a branch of Hinduism whose members consider themselves soldiers, defenders of the faith, who have cast off the Hindu belief in non-violence. They are immediately recognisable in the street because of their uniform- a long beard, long hair wrapped up in a turban (which contains a beard comb!) and a dagger or sword. He was also telling us that they always wear long underwear so that if they are attacked at night they will be able to leap up and fight without having to scramble around for their pants. Sensible I guess!

This morning we visited the Taj Mahal which felt like it could claim the titles of Glariest and Most Crowded world monument. It is an amazing sight but the bright sun, that seemed to be amplified by the pollution, had our eyes watering and us taking turns with the sunnies as we looked at the white marble. It is an amazingly beautiful building. The symmetry, proportions, curves and diffuse glow are really attractive from a distance and the detailed inlay and calligraphy work are amazing up close. It’s deliberately built on a high foundation so that it is only silhouetted by the sky. It only took 22 years to build which seems mind-blowing to me.

After ticking that box we’re off to Allahabad next, the sacred junction of the Jumna and Ganges rivers where heaps of pilgrims come to bathe, especially at a Kumbh Mela every five years or so. At the last one there were 70 million people, the largest gathering of humans ever! We will be there on the 14th of Jan which is supposed to be an auspicious date on the Hindu calendar, so there should be a few bathers about.

Anyway, we’re off to have lunch and find something to settle Bohdana’s stomach (Agra belly this time). Hope this finds everyone well!

love b and b

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