We went from the Taj Mahal to that 16th C. fort across the river where the unlucky prince lived out his final hallucinatory days. On the way, we ran into these little critters (below right) as well as some camel-rickshaws and an actual snake charmer with a boa constrictor draped over his shoulders and a cobra rising out of a basket. No pictures of the snakes, sorry to say.
Ugly as the fort looks from the outside, it’s a vast and splendid place
once you get past the walls. Bigger, I think, than any European fort I’ve seen. Housed over 2000 people. Once again, marble (what else?) gardens, various architectural tricks to create cross-ventilation for those hot summer days. It was a full-on Ottoman Empire palace with a harem (300 or so) and eunuchs and all.
After a great lunch–our second wonderful meal of the trip–it was time to embark on the 5 hour drive back to Delhi. Except this time it turned into a 6-hour drive thanks to a Muslim festival day of some sort which crowded Agra’s streets in a way we hadn’t seen since our Bolivian trip years ago. Everyone fender to bumper to bike wheel to cow haunch, going several directions at once. and noise? Trucks crowded with jubilant, green-flag-waving celebrants with music that sounded sort of like traditional Indian music influenced by rap somehow. The speakers on the pictured truck (look closely up-center) were by no means the most numerous or the loudest. Everyone looked and sounded happy, though they could have been recruiting for Isis for all we knew, but the tone seemed much more festive.
Despite the traffic, everyone appeared happy, or at least tolerant, and despite spending 12-14 hours in our van over the two days, we witnessed not a single collision. Quite a feat. Anyhow, we ended up safe and sound back in Delhi, and at this writing, we are waiting for the fog to lift so we can climb on the next flight and end our little side trip and join the tour we signed up for.