A Travellerspoint blog

Agra - Monkeys, Weddings, Wells, and the Taj Mahal

overcast 31 °C

After breakfast we left Jaipur behind and headed toward Agra, with a few stops in between.

Around 20km from Jaipur we arrived at Galtaji; or more commonly referred to by tourists as The Monkey Temple. It was built in the 17th century and is famous for its holy natural springs, where pilgrims will bathe away their sins. It is also home to a ginormous tribe of rhesus macaques!

large_1_monkey.jpg

large_2_monkey_water.jpg

large_3_monkey_sitting.jpg

large_4_monkey_temple.jpg

It was like a ghost town as we slowly strolled down the dirt track into the temple complex. The only visible inhabitants were the hundreds of monkeys jumping around everywhere, surprisingly a little bit unnerving – they have big teeth remember!!

When we arrived out the front of the main temple a priest quickly ushered us inside and into a small shrine room where he made us sit down in front of a looming statue of Hanuman; a Hindu deity resembling a human-monkey cross. The priest proceeded to then sing and wave burning incense all around us before tying a small piece of cotton around Kirby and my opposite wrists, which he held together while reciting another prayer. We tried to ask him what this ceremony was for but he didn’t speak any English – he did however say a few select English words and he was either trying to ask if we were married or telling us we were now married. So who knows maybe we just got hitched in India? :)

large_5_priest.jpg
^^ Our Priest?!

After our ceremony was complete and a donation was left we started walking further into the complex until we spotted a couple of naked men up ahead; obviously here to bathe in the holy springs. We decided at that point that we had seen enough and turned back to wake up a napping Galoo to continue our journey towards Agra. On the way back to the car we crossed paths with a few young boys who decided to practice their English vocabulary by saying “Hey, you wanna fuck?”; charming little fellas! Haha :)

As we continued our drive we passed through a few towns and it was obvious that the rural life in India or at least the towns surrounding the larger cities are extremely impoverished. The lack of infrastructure, running water, electricity etc. is fairly confronting – hopefully things improve in the future.

large_8_woman_balancing.jpg

large_9_streets.jpg

large_210.jpg

large_311.jpg

Around 100km from Jaipur we arrived in a small village called Abhaneri, what makes this little town special is the well – it is called Chand Baori and was constructed in the 9th century, it is over 20m deep, has 13 stories, and over 3500 steps, a really beautiful construction in the middle of nowhere.

large_6_well_steps.jpg

large_7_well.jpg
^^ Chand Baori

After a few hours we arrived in Agra and let Galoo have his nap before heading off to the Taj Mahal in the afternoon.

Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1631 by Shah Jahan as a tribute to his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died that same year giving birth to their 14th child. Construction of the Taj wasn’t finished until 1653 and it wasn’t long after the completion that Shah was usurped by his son and locked in Agra Fort – where he could only gaze at his world wonder from afar.

Holy shit was it busy!!! The entrance into the grounds was like a funnel, pushing hundreds of stinky, sweaty bodies together to create a humid, somewhat comforting, somewhat revolting stench that dissipated as you exploded out the other side into the beautiful open courtyard before the Taj Mahal. Many foreigners travel to India to be ‘born again’ – entering the grounds of the Taj Mahal was in many ways a way too
literal ‘born again’ for me.

large_12_taj_entrance.jpg
^^ Time to converge

large_13_inside_canal.jpg
^^ Inside the birth canal

large_14_taj_mahal.jpg
^^ There it is!

large_14_1_taj_closer.jpg

Once you disconnect your figurative placenta from the writhing crowd behind you and actually absorb the amazing sight in front of you it’s very surreal. I kept feeling like I was in a movie because it looks exactly the same in person as it does on TV – except bigger. There’s not much else I can say, the photos speak a thousand times stronger than any words I could hope to conjure.

large_15_me_n_kirby.jpg
^^ Me and Kirby

large_16_me_taj_distance.jpg
^^ Getting in all the corny shots for mums fridge magnet haha

large_17_me_kneeling.jpg
^^ Classic Taj

large_18_taj_scale.jpg
^^ Check out how small people are compared to the Taj - HUGE

large_19_taj_side.jpg

large_19_1_taj_n_spire.jpg

large_20_decoration.jpg
^^ The entire Taj Mahal is decorated with painstaking detail

large_20_1_saris_n_taj.jpg

large_21_spire.jpg

large_22_taj_dome_below.jpg

large_23_me_admiring.jpg

large_24_taj_from_below.jpg

The weirdest thing for us was that we were at the Taj Mahal and people were still crowding around us to take our photo!!! I mean come on guys, you’re at one of the wonders of the world with its white marble domes looming overhead and you still want to crowd around and take our photo? So that was strange for us, and being hassled constantly sort-of takes away a bit of the magic. But oh well what can you do, Indian’s ‘love’ foreigners, there’s no doubt about that!

Tomorrow we are off to visit Agra Fort to see where poor Shah Jahan spent his last years as a prisoner of his own son.

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 18:07 Archived in India Tagged monkeys india priest well jaipur taj_mahal agra monkey_temple driver agra_fort hanuman galoo galtaji rhesus_macaques abhaneri chand_baori giant_well shah_jahan mumtaz_mahal

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

Nothing corny about those photos!:) I have saved the one with Kirby in front of the taj on my iPad. Love starting my day with that face in front of that magnificent building!
I'm not a fan of those monkeys either you never know what they might do!

by Chris tayler

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint