I didn't sleep very well last night, so when my alarm went off at six and I looked outside and saw dense fog, it was an easy to decide that I would see sunrise at the Taj tomorrow morning. Having decided that I couldn't get back to sleep due to lots of noise on the streets. I gave up trying to sleep at eight when the power went off - I figured if I got up quickly the water would still be hot, and it was. I stopped in a little restaurant for a quick breakfast which turned in to a very leisurely one (over an hour to get my omelet, and I never did get my second cup of coffee). It was still very hazy but I decided to go to the fort anyway. I hired a rickshaw peddle me there and spent the next two hours exploring.
Agra Fort is a huge impressive and beautiful red sand stone structure that right in the middle of Agra. It was build by three different generations of royalty and each had a very different style. I loved being able to wander around away from the tour groups, and the views were spectacular. I hated that it was hazy so you could barely see the Taj in the distance, that two thirds of the fort grounds are closed, and that there was no access to the towers or walls or anything of the high spots. I also felt that the ten dollar admission was very steep - more than I'd pay at home to go see a fort, and nearly a weeks worth of accommodation here. Not that I let any of that get stop me from taking a lot of photos.
After leaving the fort I got my same Rickshaw and hired him to take me across the river to I'timad-ud-Daulah, the "Baby Taj", and then back to Tajganj (outside the Taj Mahal, where my hotel is). The ride across the river was pretty exciting as the bridge was a huge traffic jam of all kinds of vehicles from rickshaws to busses. On the river bed there were hundred of people doing laundry and there must have been thousands of sheets spread out on the sand to dry. The tomb itself was pretty. It was built by the wife of the Shaw for her father in 1622. It was one of the first buildings of white marble to be built in India. It's much, much smaller than the Taj Mahal and set in a much smaller garden, but it's also not very well known thus much more quiet and peaceful. I spent about half an hour wandering around, then another half an hour just sitting on a bench in the garden.
On the ride back I had the driver drop me off at the bridge and I walked across so I could take some photos of the the sheets drying and the cows sleeping on the river bed (the river is very low right now). It seemed that everyone else on the bridge was very shocked to see a tourist walking across, but I enjoyed it and I think some of the photos will be excellent. I also had the rickshaw driver (Powapow) pull over a couple times so I could take pictures of the Taj Mahal floating in the haze. Outside my hotel I ran in to Daryl and Neil and hung out for an hour with them - they'd managed to sneak into the Taj Mahal this morning and were pretty excited about it. I worked on my journal for a bit then went to a rooftop restaurant to have an early dinner and watch the Taj reflect the sun set - unfortunately it was still quite hazy so there wasn't really a sunset. After dinner I check email and uploaded my journal entry and photos for today. Then went up to another rooftop place to have a beer before heading to bed - I am getting up early tomorrow!