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Old 1st February 2009, 13:55   #1
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Lightbulb Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon

Saturday 10th January, 2009

My daughter Gauri had not seen Tajmahal and was time and again cribbing about it. I was somehow not able to manage this although Agra happens to be next door literally. This was the day when I could possibly make it and decided on it. Earlier also I had almost finalised and spoke to Varun (Vkochhar) and everything was set. But somehow it fizzled out.

So after finalising 10th, called Varun and happily discovered that he was in Gurgaon for a family re-union. He guided me on phone about most of the things in Agra (as I had visited many many years ago) and I signed off saying that would trouble him again if in spot.

Left at 5 am and hit the Gurgaon Faridabad road and joined the Mathura Road on NH2 at Bata Chowk. Fortunately there was no real fog to speak off. The industrial town of Faridabad & Ballabgarh was waking up and people were going for work to the factories. The traffic was sparse but the road did not give any feeling of a highway that I was used to in Punjab & Rajasthan. On an average I could manage around 85-90 kmph.

This was the time when the IOC & BP had gone off to strike and only HP was dispensing fuel. I had tanked up at my usual HP outlet and ventured out for this trip with the beilef that HP pumps enroute would come to rescue.

After a brief stopover on a roadside Dhabha - Anand Dhabha for some hot tea/coffee and butter toast, we headed towards Banke Bihaari, our first port of call. There are various parking lots. People have converted open area of their houses into parking lots. You can park your vehicle for Rs.20 and for the same amount you shall get a local lad as a guide. We took one and went for darshan. We were told to leave the bags/purses and specks/goggles in the car as the resident primates were known to snatch them.

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-bankebihari.jpg

Photography inside Baanke Bihari is not allowed. After the darshan we went to the only temple of Dauji or Balraam the elder brother of Lord Krishna, on whose name the town is named as Vrindavan.

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-dauji.jpg

As informed by the priest, this is the only temple where the statue of parents of the Lord is also present and worshipped. Again no photgraphy. The mighty Yamuna, now reduced to a stream and highly polluted, flows nearby. Some morning pictures of the Yamuna.

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-yamunaji.jpg

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-boats.jpg

We left Baanke Bihari and proceeded towards Mathura to have a darshan of Dwarakadheesh. By the time we reached, negotiating the heavy traffic of the holy city, the doors were closed. Without having a darshan we left for Agra and stopped at Sikandra, the resting place of Emperor Akbar. It is said that Akbar had built this mausoleum for himself. For an emperor this is very simple from inside without any carving work or precious stones. The area of Sikandra is bigger than Tajmahal's.

The Entrance

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-sikandrabw.jpg

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-sikandra.jpg

The Main building with the grave

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-resting.jpg

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-restingmain.jpg

Between the main entrance and the main building, on either side of the pathway are huge grass lawns and I saw a very peculiar phenomena. Scores of Blackbucks & Chinkaras roaming freely. And I don't know whether to believe it or not, I was told by one of the keepers, that they have been here for hundreds of years from the Badhshah's days.

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-deers.jpg

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-deers1.jpg

To be continued..............
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Old 1st February 2009, 19:26   #2
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Beautiful Pics Guruji !

Sorry could not meet you in Agra otherwise would have gladly taken you around. Maybe next time.

The story on the Chinkaras / Blackbucks is 100 % true, they have always been there and are kept extremely well and fed properly.

Did you not see any ' Langoors ' in Sikandra. They are plenty of those there as well.
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Old 1st February 2009, 19:50   #3
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Default The Agra Trip

While approaching the main mausoleum building, I also witnessed lots of Grey Langoors - Langoor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia roaming around freely and mingling with humans.

Digressing a bit, in Delhi the Government offices and many farmhouses on the city's periphery are homes to huge groups of Rhesus monkeys and they are a menace at most of the times. To chase them away Langoors are brought, time and again, to shoo them away as the Rhesuses are scared of Langoors. And believe me a single Langoor does the job very well.

Here at Sikandra, I saw a co-existence - Langoors & Rhesus, arch rivals living together. Nature is amazing.

Is mine better or that of La Giaconda's (Mona Lisa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)?

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-langoor.jpg

Itchy, yeh?

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-itchy.jpg

Langoor & Monkey

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-rhesuslangoor.jpg

Removed our shoes and walked inside the mausoleum. After walking through a long dark dimly lit corridor entered a huge domed hall that housed the grave of the mighty Emperor. Lit by a single low-watt bulb, the simplicity of the place was a stark contrast to the glory and grandeur of Akbar. I was humbled.

I saw sunlight filtering through an intricately carved screen and lighting up the lobby.

Sunlight flitering through the screen

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-jaali.jpg

The ceiling of the lobby was laid with intricate work and also ravaged by leaking roof. So much for maintainance by the ASI.

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-ceiling.jpg

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-ceiling1.jpg

Look at that patch on the top

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-ceiling2.jpg

Came out and walked around. Found several small graves. Since we had not hired any guide, didn't know whose they were off. The arches on the corridor looked amazing

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-arches.jpg

After taking a round of the monument, while walking out saw this

Mother & Child

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-motherchild.jpg

Mommy look, 2 legged animal

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-peeping.jpg

Snack time

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-snacks.jpg

Mommy, I'm hungry too

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-hungry.jpg

To be continued......

Last edited by gd1418 : 1st February 2009 at 20:05.
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Old 1st February 2009, 19:59   #4
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GD Sir, great pics and nice narration.
Even I have not seen Agra even after staying in Kanpur for 4 yrs, wonder when I will see it.

Abhi
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Old 1st February 2009, 20:18   #5
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Default The Agra trip

While taking the ceiling pics of the decorated dome inside the monument, how much I missed a wide-angle or a fisheye in my kitty?? On second thoughts, I have a 35-70 in my bag, but that was way too far away in the vehicle..
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Old 1st February 2009, 21:32   #6
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Default The Agra Trip

After visiting the humbling resting abode of Jille-Ilahi, Shahenshah Mohammed Gayasuddin Akbar, it was time to visit the Monument of Love, The Tajmahal - one of the seven wonders of the world, built by Akbar's grandson Shahjehaan for his most beautiful and beloved wife Mumtaz after she died in her last pregnancy while bearing him his 14th child.

Shahjehaan was dethroned and imprisoned at the Agra Fort by his 5th offspring Aurangzeb, who after killing the rightful heir to the Mughal throne Dara Shikoh the eldest son ascended the throne. Shahjehaan spent his last days looking at his wife's memorial from across the river Jamuna through a diamond installed in the Fort that magnified the monument. After the British plundered India of its riches, a glass prism has been put in place of that diamond through which the magnified Tajmahal can be seen.

Varun had already told me at the commencement of the tirp to avoid Sikandra as it would be time consuming and then visitng Taj wowuld leave us with no time for the Fort. And that is how it happened. We reached Taj around 2:45.

The scores of iron foundries and tanneries, compounded by the fumes emanated from the Mathura Oil Refinery have paled the lusture of the famed Makrana marble from which the Taj has been built. It now sports a deathly yellow hue.

Many years ago, the Government in a wise decision removed the iron foundries and tanneries near the monument and banned vehicular movement within a 1 km radius. I remember, earlier when I had visited the Taj with my parents, we had parked our car right very near the entrance. Now we had to park some distance away at a designated parking from where either the battery operated vehicles or a horse carriage called tonga would take you till the gate. The tongas charge Rs.100 for to and fro and the battery vehicles Rs. 50/- per trip. So much for discount...

We took a battery vehicle and reached the East gate where there was a small que because of stringent security check. These security people have strange rules and practices. When it was my turn to pass through the metal detector, it almost cried hoarse. I had so many gadgets and metal objects on me. Let me start counting:

1. My camera with lens.
2. Flashgun
3. Two mobiles
4. Rudraksh with gold chain
5. Belt with metal bracket
6. Scorpio's 2 keys with remote
7. Pocket maglite torch
8. Sheaffer's fountain pen

The security guy checked all and then said that the pocket torch wouldn't go. I asked why and to which he said that it contained a battery. I almost choked. I was carrying several batteries - camera, flash, mobiles. Well, there was no point in arguing and I deposited the torch at the locker and walked through. Let the pictures say the rest of the story

The Entrance

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-tajentrance1.jpg

How so much ever you look at the Taj, it never ceases to astound you.

The first look

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-taj.jpg

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-tajbw.jpg

The Fountains

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-fountains.jpg

The whole monument looks beautiful in totality. You remove one of the structures and it looks so very bare

The Bare look without the minarets

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-bare.jpg

One either side of the Taj, two identical structures are constructed and one of them is a mosque. The other one is for symmetry.

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-mosque.jpg

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-mosquebw.jpg

If you look at the minarets straddling the Taj, they appear to be straight, but in reality it is not so. They tilt towards outside and it has been so constructed to provide balance to the monument. An engineering & architecture marvel

Tilted Minaret

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-tiltedminaar.jpg

The last pictures with the light fading

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-taj1.jpg

Gurgaon - Baanke Bihari - Mathura - Agra - Gurgaon-tajbw1.jpg

With this our Agra trip almost came to an end. I placed another call to Varun to ask for some good place to eat, as we had not had lunch. He directed us to the food court at the Select City Mall that barely a few kilometers away from the Taj. We went and had chinese and bid good-bye to Agra. The traffic as usual was very heavy; the NH2 is a high volume highway. Reached home by 10 pm.

I almost forgot to thak Varun for his help & guidance.......

Last edited by gd1418 : 1st February 2009 at 21:36.
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Old 1st February 2009, 22:50   #7
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Thanks Varun. That's why I didn't visit the Fort. It shall be done next time, purely to enjoy your hospitality..

While I was compiling the second part of the narration with pictures, you had posted. I saw lots & lots of Langoors..

Quote:
Originally Posted by vkochar View Post
Beautiful Pics Guruji !

Sorry could not meet you in Agra otherwise would have gladly taken you around. Maybe next time.

The story on the Chinkaras / Blackbucks is 100 % true, they have always been there and are kept extremely well and fed properly.

Did you not see any ' Langoors ' in Sikandra. They are plenty of those there as well.

Thanks AK. This syndrome is universal. I shifted to Delhi in '71, and it was after many years that I visited the Qutab Minar and the Red Fort as I had to accompany a visiting relative..

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Originally Posted by akroy View Post
GD Sir, great pics and nice narration.
Even I have not seen Agra even after staying in Kanpur for 4 yrs, wonder when I will see it.

Abhi
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Old 1st February 2009, 23:01   #8
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Guruji,

Now I understand phone uth kyu nahin raha tha

Lovely pics - very crisp!
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Old 1st February 2009, 23:37   #9
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Great pics and write up GD!

I had been to Mathura-Gokul-Vrindavan-Barsana and many places related to Lord Krishna. But this was 10 years back.
The most amazing thing I found was at Dauji. The chobas keep running behind you just to know your last name. Once they knew our last name, they came back with a huge book which had names and signatures of our whole generations. It was quite surprising to see because I dont think any other place other than Dauji, I would have been able to know something about my great-great grandfather and beyond.
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Old 2nd February 2009, 00:03   #10
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Thanks Priyank. They are the Chaubeys and not "chobas"...

They ran behind us too but when they came to know that I was a bigger 'Panda' from Benaras than them and a 'thug' too, they backed off. The other places where the 'chaubeys & chhabbeys' come up with the geneology is Haridwar & Gaya..

Quote:
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Great pics and write up GD!

I had been to Mathura-Gokul-Vrindavan-Barsana and many places related to Lord Krishna. But this was 10 years back.
The most amazing thing I found was at Dauji. The chobas keep running behind you just to know your last name. Once they knew our last name, they came back with a huge book which had names and signatures of our whole generations. It was quite surprising to see because I dont think any other place other than Dauji, I would have been able to know something about my great-great grandfather and beyond.

Last edited by gd1418 : 2nd February 2009 at 00:05.
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Old 11th February 2009, 15:12   #11
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Hmmm, finally got around to reading this! Nice pics, very nice. But why the langur fixation, LOL!!!
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Old 11th February 2009, 15:47   #12
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Great writeup and pics GD. It reminded me of old days when I was studying at Aligarh and we use to visit either Delhi or Agra whenever feeling bored.
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Old 11th February 2009, 16:13   #13
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Somehow missed the travelogue !!

Great pictures and narration as usual. You might have been told about the "Mannat" which needs to be completed after their wish is fulfilled in krishna-valabh mandir, where-in people need to get a name/address embosed plate fixed in the mandir premise if their wish gets completed. Density of such embosed plates are so much that they not even covered all available wallspace in mandir but also the passage leading to mandir. I was quite amazed to see the no.s on my visit !!
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Old 11th February 2009, 19:56   #14
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Wow Guruji amazing writeup and the pics are simply marvellous. The shot of the langoors are great and also the once of Taj. Waiting for more.

PS: I have never visited the taj and hope to do so sometime in the future.
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Old 12th February 2009, 19:07   #15
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Thanks Dada. No offence, but the Langoors somehow reminded me about.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by suman View Post
Hmmm, finally got around to reading this! Nice pics, very nice. But why the langur fixation, LOL!!!
Thanks javed

Quote:
Originally Posted by javed406 View Post
Great writeup and pics GD. It reminded me of old days when I was studying at Aligarh and we use to visit either Delhi or Agra whenever feeling bored.
Thanks Ashish. Yes, I was told about the "Mannat"

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashthedivx View Post
Somehow missed the travelogue !!

Great pictures and narration as usual. You might have been told about the "Mannat" which needs to be completed after their wish is fulfilled in krishna-valabh mandir, where-in people need to get a name/address embosed plate fixed in the mandir premise if their wish gets completed. Density of such embosed plates are so much that they not even covered all available wallspace in mandir but also the passage leading to mandir. I was quite amazed to see the no.s on my visit !!
Thanks Maddy and the travelogue ended and so did the pictures...

Quote:
Originally Posted by maddy42 View Post
Wow Guruji amazing writeup and the pics are simply marvellous. The shot of the langoors are great and also the once of Taj. Waiting for more.

PS: I have never visited the taj and hope to do so sometime in the future.
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