The title of this blog is ofcourse a facetious take on the ridiculous security
measures in place at the Taj Mahal (the security at the Red Fort
is even more laughable). During our trip, when we went through
two separate security screenings with metal detectors and
armed guards, I was able to bring in a little knife (my trusty
red leatherman -- look at the picture below) but had my coughdrops,
chewing gum, oranges and newspaper (Hindustan Times -- not that bad
a newspaper!) all confiscated by the diligent security guards.
While I could have certainly stabbed someone with my knife (not
really, but it's dangerous enough), I was no longer able to maim
someone with my oranges (actually they were small tangerines)
-- we've seen the dangers of citrus fruits in films (See Mrs Doubtfire for
an example of a "runby fruiting"). The fact that they charge
foreigners 750 rupees for the monument is also a bit nuts
-- one look at the toilets at the Taj help your realize that
your entrance fee is certainly not being used for something
useless like maintenance... I honestly wonder in which politicians
pocket the money ends up. More on the Taj, Fatehpur and our trip
at a later point.
The Taj Mahal is probably one of (if not the) the most famous landmarks in India. It's somewhat discouraging that this splendid structure lies in as dirty and polluted a city as Agra. Despite the supposed ban on automotive vehicles near the Taj, we saw plenty of scooters, motorcycles, and even a few cars less than 100 meters from the entrance. Furthermore, there are plenty of auto-rickshaws hanging around the different entrances, so it seems that the government is not taking the necessary steps to preserve the monument for future generations. Perhaps 30 years from now people will only have the memory of a white Taj Mahal.
Some of the pictures from our morning tour of Fatehpur Sikri.
We visited Agra and Fatehpur on one of the Muslim holy days (I'll fill in the exact holiday at a later time). Here are glimpses of a holiday procession that we saw while eating lunch in a rooftop restaurant in Agra.