Saturday, January 15, 2005

India Trip 3

Well! Due to the detour to Mumbai, we had to miss the first (1 day) conference session. Some people say that we should not mix business/work with pleasure but I am not one of them. I wanted to enjoy my trip to India.

A trip to Agra was part of the package we had taken and of course we were not going to miss that. We left our hotel early in the morning and was it cold. Brrrrr. We picked up the rest of the participants from the Grand New Delhi, where they were staying and we were on our way.

Agra is in the state of Uttar Pradesh and is about 200km south of New Delhi. However, just to get out of the city, it took us more than an hour. The traffic jam was terrible. People in KL often comment that the city traffic is the worst in the world. However, they have never been to India. I have also heard some similar comments about Penang drivers. I tell you, Penang drivers are angels as compared to the Indians. On the way, the road was packed with trucks, 3 wheelers, buses, motorbikes, scooters, bicycles and even a tractor trying to make a U turn moving about 1 cm per minute. Forget traffic rules. Oh Yes! We saw cows too. There were also numerous pedestrians crossing the road, weaving in and out between the vehicles. And it seemed that everyone who could was honking. All the trucks carried signs on their back, which you will never see in Malaysia - "Horn Please" or "Please Blow Horn". It was so amazing that we didn’t realize that 1 hour had passed before we finally reached the outskirts of the city.

Here I have to mention that the pollution was considerably lesser than I had experienced the last time I was here. This was largely due to the fact that all buses, taxis and 3 wheelers in New Delhi now runs on Compressed Petroleum Gas (CPG). Last time I was here, the pollution was so bad that blowing your nose after a walk would leave a blackish residue on your handkerchief or tissue.

Once we escaped the jam in the city, we moved faster and we were on our way to the famous monument of Love – the Taj Mahal. As we neared the city of Agra, we stopped at Emperor Akbar’s tomb at the town of Sikandra, 4 km from Agra. According to the guide, Akbar was the third and the greatest Mughal emperor. He was very successful in uniting the different religious groups in India. In fact he had wives from different religious backgrounds, including Hindu, Christian and Muslim.

The tomb was really huge and built in red sandstone and Marble. As Akbar's tomb was completed eventually by his son, Jahangir, we can see some differences betweent he architectual preferences of the two. We were awed by the architecture but according to the guide, it was nothing compared to the Taj. We didn’t stay there long as we wanted to spend more time at the Taj Mahal.

More later...

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