05 Apr 2023
Day 7 - Moving on from Delhi

A major part of the touring experience is the travel around the country allowing one to observe a foreign culture through the coach window. Today saw us completing the first of our three consecutive days of travel, as we set out South East from Delhi to the next hotel in Agra. After saying farewell to our comfortable lodgings in Delhi, the Suryaa, we travelled for four hours across the Indo-Gangatic plain. The terrain is very flat, but there was plenty to see out of the window as we cruised down a newly built motorway toward Agra. We saw many cows along the way, in the fields but also just wandering around (and in Agra, we were briefly halted by a small herd trotting along the city’s main road) . Kaleem, our guide, explained the significance of the cow as a sacred animal in Hindu culture. We also saw a huge number of brick kilns for a fifteen-mile stretch, these thin, ten metre high chimneys were surrounded by thousands of orange bricks they had just baked. These chimneys and their individual plumes of black smoke stretched as far as the eye could see for this section before being replaced by farmland.

Our journey to Agra saw us following the course of the River Yamuna, which is sacred in the Hindu religion. This mighty river, which rises in the glaciers of the Himalayas has become a broad, meandering, and slow-moving river by the time it passes the city, and on its banks is built the Taj Mahal. This tomb, constructed in the Seventeenth Century, has been named one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World.’ It is certainly an impressive piece of architecture, with the white, ivory-coloured stone dome and minarets being both imposing and attractive. The group got many photos, both team and individual, of this fine site. The most popular tourist site in India, some 35,000 people visit it every day, many of them in vibrant, colourful dresses. What I hadn’t appreciated is that the Taj Mahal is part of a much larger complex of buildings, including a mosque, which are themselves majestic sandstone structures. It was certainly a memorable afternoon.

What followed was an evening where the boys enjoyed the rooftop pool at sunset, before the familiar team meeting and buffet dinner.

by Mr. O'Brien

The pupils perspective by Jamie:

As usual, the boys were primed and ready for an early start, but Francis had communicated that we were getting a little lie-in. Nevertheless, by 8:40, we were all packed and ready to go for our trip to Agra. We were on the coach for a couple of hours before we stopped at a service station for a quick stretch of the legs and a food break. The boys quickly discovered that there was a KFC so almost the whole team went over to it for a quick bit of food before getting back on the road. After another hour on the bus, we arrived in Agra where we quickly got to the hotel room where we put our bags down in our new rooms. We then went back into town for a quick lunch at a local restaurant which was extremely nice. After this, we got back on the bus and made our way to the Taj Mahal, we saw Agra Fort (which we will see properly tomorrow) on the way but nothing could have prepared us for the beauty of the Taj Mahal which was an amazing sight which everyone enjoyed taking pictures of. We left the Taj Mahal at about 4:30 and went back to the hotel for a quick dip in the pool. After this we went back into our rooms and got changed, then we went down to dinner where we were treated to a very impressive performance by the people sitting next to us. After dinner, we went back to our rooms to prepare ourselves for the busy day tomorrow traveling to Agra fort and onto Ranthambhore.