India 2012 - 5: The present Glory of Agra Fort (50 p.)

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ronik24

Proud Earthling
Hi,



The previous trip report part:
India 2012 - 4: The former Glory of Agra Fort (50 p.)
http://railroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=39656



The accompanying video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ln9ntoVBVts&hd=1






In front of the exit of the Taj I let myself be convinced by a boy to take a bicycle rickshaw for 50 rupees, an experience that still had to be made. Downhill we rode quite fast, but up grades he had to struggle with only one gear available. Somehow I did not feel at ease with such a situation and wished for a tandem. So, we reached the entrance to the Red Fort where you had to queue again for a security check. Inside I sat down in the shade for a quick snack and was soon annoyed by some obtrusive chipmunks. However, when I grabbed the camera to take photos they disappeared fast. Then I set off into the massive complex consisting of several palaces. This is only a small portion of the whole fort area which is otherwise used by the military. The northernmost white palace was Khas Mahal, the former private living quarters of the Mogul rulers, where I crossed the public audience hall supported by double column rows to get to the riverside viewing point.
More details about the fort can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agra_Fort



The "fish palace", actually just a courtyard where formerly a fish pond could be found, to the right the marble private audience hall (Diwan-i-Khas).
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Ahhhh, India!
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Contrasts.
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Rose-ringed parakeets assembled here in masses.
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Crosstown Traffic I
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Crosstown Traffic II
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Two railway bridges could be viewed from here, the closer one near Agra Fort Station, the one behind at Agra City, both lines joined on the opposite side at Yamuna Bridge station. In the other direction of the river bend Taj Mahal was glowing white in the distance. Sadly very sparse traffic could be witnessed that time of day, I only encountered a WAG-7 with freight and a 12-coach EMU.

Mughalsarai WAG-7 27044 with BCN wagons leaving Agra Fort station, in the background 64956 Tundla - Agra Cantt MEMU (Mainline EMU) about to arrive at Agra City.
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The panorama, the octagonal tower to the right. In a prison cell below Mogul ruler Aurangzeb kept his father Shah Jahan imprisoned for life just with a view of the Taj - reason: money waste through building the Taj and other extravagancies.... does seem familiar in modern times.
On the celebrity bench to the left a guard was watching constantly so nobody sat outside of the barrier - which happened exactly every five minutes.
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Afterwards I explored the marble palace and the red Jehangiri Mahal further and was very delighted by the pure shapes and exquisite views at river and Taj. The visitors were as diverse as tourists from eastern Germany or Buddhist monks providing a colourful mix.


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View at the Taj past the magnificent Pietra dura.
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An ingenius plethora of shapes everywhere.
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Another view of the octagon tower and train.
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Once more, in this airy oriental dream, the train (left) with Taj (right).
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Inside red Jehangir's Palace.
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Visitors from all countries and species.
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At the exit I finally managed to capture the wild chipmunks.
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Next I took the services of the rickshaw boy who had waited without my request again for the short ride to Agra Fort station. Now he had to struggle even harder, pushing the vehicle uphill in a traffic jam just one metre behind a bus. I gave him a hundred rupees, at least to lighten my own conscience.

The entrance to the station, kept in Red Fort design.
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Street and locos.
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A mighty WDP-4 (GM EMD GT46PAC) was waiting as well, Bhagat Ki Kothi (BGKT) 20099, which was about to provide more enjoyment to me later. This modern loco class is no beauty, but its raw power is hardly comparable to an elderly gentleman.
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No train came by on the bridge next to me, but it did not matter as the steel girders were better viewable that way. It got very uncomfortable again quickly through brisk wind in the shade and very dirty surroundings. Finally a few youngsters passed by wanting "black money" for photos - if I only think of the delightful people in the countryside and Gwalior!

Finally the proper Taj view I had missed in the morning.
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Even without trains the bridge was being heavily used by commuters.
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During the dry period settlements cropped up in the river bed.
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The EMU returned as 64160 Agra Cantt - Etawah MEMU, to the right cricket was played.
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The Taj panorama - with train!
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Now it got too inhospitable and I returned to the station. A monkey was rampaging marking its territory causing one catenary mast after another to wobble.


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During sunset I could capture the mood of new/old Agra Fort station.

The class WAM-4 had now been parked in front of the WAP-1.
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At the station I did not even bother with the photo permit and just asked a station master standing around if I could take pictures, he replied "Sure!" - that's the advantage of touristy places!
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The current station shed with LCD information displays. I could discern that my train would be relatively on time.
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Now Jama Masjid could be banned on chip beautifully with sunset.
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A DMU with aerodynamic nose departed, viewed from the pedestrian bridge.
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Another train would be nice now - and our dear WDP-4 20099 approached through the old former metre gauge part of the station. You can see even better how the Red Fort had been reflected in the architecture, the station is fitting in perfectly between fortifications and mosque.
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The almost 20 m long monster rolled past below me emitting the typical EMD growl.
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Maybe I should have booked the hotel to the right, with goats being kept on the roof... ;-)
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I spent the rest of the waiting time for my Howrah (Kolkata) – Jodhpur Express in the hotel lounge. Around seven I left and accessed the station through the dark back alley where India Post was just being loaded. Part of the process was obviously flooding the surroundings by an artificial pond, which I could cross staying dry thanks to new trekking shoes.

Now the WDP-4 was stabled in front of the DMU.
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Great lighting at the platform, the trains were still shown relatively punctually, but I made the experience that actual times could be pushed back in real time.
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For few rupees you can let others carry your luggage, but with my backpack I never used the services of the red shirted luggage porters.
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Two gentlemen on the platform in front of the lit Friday Mosque.
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I took a few more pictures as Ajmer – Sealdah (Kolkata) Express pulled into platform 2 behind another WDP-4–monster.

12988 Ajmer - Sealdah Express hauled by BGKT WDP-4B 40038. This would not be the last time I was about to spot this engine, as its home shed Bagat Ki Kothi was located at my next destination, Jodhpur.
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A friendly goodbye from Agra.
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My express from Howrah to Jodhpur, Agra Fort lay already at kilometre 1260 of the route.

Code:
12307 HWH JU EXPRESS


1	HWH	Howrah	First St	23:30		ER	0	1	 
2	BWN	Barddhaman	00:36	00:38	2	ER	95	2	 
3	ASN	Asansol Jn	02:06	02:10	4	ER	200	2	 
4	DHN	Dhanbad Jn	03:05	03:15	10	ECR	259	2	 
5	PNME	Parasnath	03:52	03:53	1	ECR	306	2	 
6	KQR	Koderma		04:47	04:48	1	ECR	382	2	 
7	GAYA	Gaya Jn		06:15	06:20	5	ECR	458	2	 
8	AUBR	Anugrah Narayan 07:08	07:09	1	ECR	526	2	 
9	DOS	Dehri On Son	07:26	07:28	2	ECR	543	2	 
10	SSM	Sasaram		07:41	07:42	1	ECR	561	2	 
11	BBU	Bhabua Road	08:14	08:15	1	ECR	608	2	 
12	MGS	Mughal Sarai Jn	09:35	09:55	20	ECR	661	2	 
13	MZP	Mirzapur	10:44	10:45	1	NCR	724	2	 
14	ALD	Allahabad Jn	12:10	12:15	5	NCR	813	2	 
15	FTP	Fatehpur	13:29	13:30	1	NCR	930	2	 
16	CNB	Kanpur Central 	14:45	15:00	15	NCR	1008	2	 
17	ETW	Etawah		16:37	16:38	1	NCR	1146	2	 
18	AF	Agra Fort	19:50	20:10	20	NCR	1260	2	 
19	AH	Achhnera Jn	20:40	20:42	2	NCR	1286	2	 
20	BTE	Bharatpur	21:14	21:16	2	WCR	1314	2	 
21	JP	Jaipur Jn	00:05	00:15	10	NWR	1501	3	 
22	KMNC	Kuchaman City	01:48	01:49	1	NWR	1606	3	 
23	MKN	Makrana Jn	02:05	02:06	1	NWR	1620	3	 
24	DNA	Degana Jn	02:55	02:56	1	NWR	1664	3	 
25	MTD	Merta Road Jn	03:32	04:00	28	NWR	1709	3	 
26	JU	Jodhpur Jn	06:00	Last Stn	NWR	1813	3

My train was now shown on platform 1 with some delay, so the platform of 12987 Sealdah – Ajmer Express - practically travelling parallel for more than a thousand kilometres since Kolkata - had been changed to two. Finally 12307 arrived behind Howrah Shed WAP-4 22288, I already waited at the correct position as digital displays showed the coach numbers. I did not see it, but I suppose good old WDP-4 20099 took over for the home stretch as electrification ended soon on my route. Inside 2AC coach A1 my seat number was 7, actually a windows seat, but I was asked to switch for an upper berth which was fine by me as it would provide more quiet. Next to me a young east Asian tourist was travelling constantly looking through photos on his laptop. I did not get much rest, until midnight it was completely impossible as Jaipur was reached. Afterwards there was only time until 6 a.m., and a few people still in conversation and an extreme snorer nearby did not allow for much sleep.
 




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