India – Traveling to the Taj Mahal

Since our trip lasted more than a week, we found ourselves with a free weekend for some site seeing and shopping.  I felt like as long as I was in India, I should at least take time to visit the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  We were staying close to Delhi, the capital of India.  The Taj Mahal is located in Agra which is about a three hour drive from Delhi.

We were told that there was a highway between the two cities that had been completed about five years ago.  We left in two vans, with our drivers and a couple of Indian nationals that accompanied us on the trip.  In most cities that we visited we had no problem communicating in English because they were generally located in larger cities, but because this trip was going to and through lesser developed areas we thought that having someone with local language skills would be a good idea.

Getting back to the highway… the highway proved to be very similar to what I was used to, except for one thing.  When it was described as a highway between the two cities I didn’t realize that the description was literal…really a road between the two cities, no other off-ramps, on-ramps or cross streets.  There was only one major “Comfort Stop” along the way, basically a rest stop with a small restaurant.  Otherwise, we saw nothing but miles and miles of beautiful countryside with small family farms.

Arriving in Agra, it was clear that we were in a much less developed area.  We saw many small shops, vendors with carts of produce and cows in the streets.  More than once we had to wait for livestock to clear the street to continue.

 

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One of the many chimneys located along the highway to Agra. Bricks are handmade and then dried in these kilns. They seem to be just randomly placed in the countryside.

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Many forms of transportation are used. Here are two very common types, a bicycle and a three wheel truck. In background is an example of the many small stores. This one is offering various coffees and teas.

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An example of the handmade bricks being used in construction. It is also very common, even in large commercial building projects, to use “sticks” as support. My assumption is that, especially in the more rural areas, building codes do not exist.

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Pizza Shop

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There are many vendors along the way, with fruits and vegetables. No supermarkets or big grocery stores, most food is purchased from local markets.

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Livestock roam the streets

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We were traveling on a Saturday, and came across this wedding celebration. We actually passed a couple of these on this day and one thing they all had in common was the elaborately decorated cars.

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Examples of a few things in the photo:  on the left, pedal-powered transportation; handmade bricks and a homeless encampment in the middle.

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One of the many stores offering handmade articles.

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The more that I travel, the more I realize that you can find a Coke anywhere!

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