Monday, 19 January 2009

Sheena, The Taj Mahal Princess.

It is 8 oclock in the morning and its cold.

Last night we arrived in Bharatpur, a smaller town west of Agra famous for a bird reserve, the Keoladoe National Park, on the outskirts and I cant stop thinking about the pythons that also happen to live in the reserve.

I am absolutely terrified of snakes. The last time someone brought one near me I was in Thailand, I had a screaming fit, a 'scooby-doo moment', jumping onto the person sitting next to me's lap...but lets not get ahead of ourselves.

Yesterday we saw India's main treasure, the Taj Mahal.

We got up early to avoid the crowds and to get to see the Taj in the morning light. However a thick layer of fog covered the town so when we got to the gates we could barely see our feet let alone any monument. As we walked into the gardens the place was filled with mystery.

As the morning went on the fog lifted, as if someone was pulling up a curtain, and eventually we could admire the Taj Mahal in all its glory.

You could not help but to be completely awestruck. It is stunning, larger than I was expecting, all shining white marble. I dont know if the story of its founder is truly the 'greatest love story' ever told but the Taj is one of the world's wonders, and maybe the first.

The place filled up quickly with crowds. They were everywhere, running around like small insects, but irrelevant.

I can't recommend a visit to the Taj enough. It should bring all Europeans a sense of humbleness, remind us that although we have built empires and achieved great things, so have other people. Having said that, the Taj is also a reminder of the dangers of absolute power. A king, grieving for the death of his favourite wife spends the public money on a mausoleum...

Once we were finished in the Taj and before heading to the deserted capital of Fatehpur Sikri, we had some lunch at Sheela.

Sheela is the only decent place around the Taj, well so said the Rough Guide. And so it was. Food was great, cheap and the place was set in a secluded garden. We also got to meet Sheela, the little princess that 'owns' the place. As the pic shows she should would fit better in Cannes than in Agra, but she must have done something terible in her previous life. She still behaved like she was in the South of France and she was travelling in Sharon Osbourne's handbag...

Please meet Sheela, the Taj Mahal princess...

So off we went to this ghost city.

A Moghul emperor from the second part of the 16th Century had decided to build a new capital, but well after building got underway they realised that there was not going to be anywhere near enough water. One thing I have already learnt is that in the past in India things got up and running really quickly: the Taj was built in 17 years, Agra Fort was built in 8. The ghost city, a fully fledged capital, was built in 16 years, but they lived in it for merely 15 after that.

It is extremely impressive to walk up the stairs into the mosque. The place is very grand, in local red rock, with beautiful decoration. I liked the goats on the stairs. They seemed to be so happy staring at us.

As we walked around the palace I felt the architecture was more what I have would expected in China than in India. More 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon' than 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. But then again, this was a capital built by the Moghul rulers. I loved the 5 layered podium, like a wedding cake. The emperor was meant to sit at the top and enjoy the evening's entertainment.

I'm now off to the Bird Reserve. Here's hoping I dont get crushed to death by an Indian Rock Python...


  1. Has Charles turned iunto a Butch Lesbian or are those Man boobs in the last picture ! Roberto you appear to have turned into a goat !
    D xx

  2. have you seen this site? might be useful for when you head off on your own:

    and ur right about Cannes, im sure i saw that bloody dog there peeking out of someone's Louis Vuitton...


  3. hey
    great article.. and are you headed for bharatpur this weekend? i'm planning to go today due to the long weekend.

    cheers and hope your redundancy money lasts long!