11 November 2009

Around Agra

Yesterday, whilst we were still in Agra we also paid a visit to Agra Fort, a Mughal castle from the 16th century. It was a fairly interesting diversion after the excitement of the Taj Mahal.

Today we hired a car and driver for the day to take us to Bharatpur where we would get the train to our next destination, Ranthambore.

On the way we stopped at Fatehpur Sikri which was briefly the Mughal capital between 1571 and 1585. The town was abandoned 14 years after construction started due to the city being built in an area affected by drought.

The highlight of the abandoned city was the Jama Masjid mosque which contained the white marble tomb of Shaikh Salim Chishti.

The building had some incredibly elaborately carved marble screen windows which childless women tie thread to in the hope of getting a son. Liz kept her string well away from the windows.

To enter the tomb you had to cover your head. For the men this meant that you had to wear a small plastic hat that looked a little bit like something that chicken in a basket would be served in at a Harvester pub.

Before we hopped on the train at Bharatpur we also paid a flying visit to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park where we were whisked around in a couple of bicycle-rickshaws.

The park is supposed to be an excellent place for bird watching as it is a stop off place for migratory birds. Unfortunately the last monsoon was a little dry in Rajasthan so there wasn't much water in the lakes which meant the birds where a little thin on the ground. We saw a spattering of parakeets, kingfishers and a couple of Saras cranes. The lack of water made spotting the mammals a little easier and we were lucky enough to also see a jungle cat and a pack of Jackals.

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