Sunday, November 13, 2022
Temperature 13 – 28 C ( 57 – 82 F ) , Smog Index 344 ( Very Poor ) in Delhi – 102 ( Moderate ) in Agra
We had breakfast at 7 am, as usual, and then packed our bags, put them in the hallways and met downstairs at 8:30. At 9:30, after all of the bags had been stowed on the bus, we left for Agra. The drive to Agra takes about 3.5 hours, however, we made a few stops along the way, so it took longer.
Along the way Shail showed us some points of interest, such as the National War memorial.
We hadn’t gone far before we came to our first stop at the Swaminarayan Akshardham Mandir ( Hindu Temple ) in central New Delhi. We were not allowed bring cameras inside, so we took pictures from the outside and then went for a tour inside. The security was very tight and we couldn’t bring in wallets, cameras, belts, shoes etc and we were scanned at the entrance to make sure we didn’t bring in any forbidden items.
This temple took 5 years to built and was completed in 2005 by a Hindu sect that follow Bhagwan Swaminarayan ( 1781 – 1830 ), as well as the traditional sages of Hinduism. It is very ornate and was built using sandstone, marble and gold. There were many people working there and the grounds were very clean. The intricate designs carved in the marble and the inlaid coloured designs were very impressive. As with all Hindu temples, we had to remove our shoes to go into the temple.
We had driven about an hour before we stopped for lunch, where we had a choice of going to Burger King, Jolly Go, Subway, Starbucks, Domino’s pizza or Bikanos. I opted for the more traditional foods at Bikanos. At the stop, we noticed a number of Lamborghinis and there owners who belonged to a local club, in one of the parking lots. When we got back on the highway, it didn’t take them long to catch up and pass the bus.
When we arrived in Agra, we stopped at the Tomb of I’TIMAD-UD-DAULAH (1622- 28 AD), which is the precursor to the Taj Mahal. It is the Tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg and his wife Asmat Begum. He hailed from Iran and served Akbar. He was the father of the famous ‘Nur Jehan’ and grand-father of ‘ Mumtaz-Mahal ‘ of the Taj Mahal fame ( where she is buried ). He was made Vazir ( Prime Minister ) after Nur-Jehan’s marriage with Jehangir in 1611. He held the title of I’TIMAD-UD-DAULAH ( The Lord Treasurer ) He died in Agra in 1622, a few months after his wife death. Nur Jehan built this tomb for her parents between 1622 and 1628.
While driving on the new toll highway from Delhi to Agra, I noticed several places where entrepreneurs had set up stands along the highway to sell their products. People would stop their cars on the left side of the highway and barter with the shop owners.
It is the fall season and the farmers have started to plant their new crops. Shail mentioned that a large contributor to the smog around Delhi is from farmers burning the plant remains ( particularly mustard plant ) after the harvest.
Around 5 pm we arrived at the beautiful Jaycee Palace Hotel & Convention Center in Agra and at 7:30 we had a wonderful buffet dinner. Before we ate, we had one of the waiters take a group picture of us.
One of the things I noticed while in Delhi, is that there are a lot more educational programs on TV than in North America. There were specific channels for different engineering studies ( ehemical, electrical, etc.), mathematics, social sciences, accounting, etc. I watched a bit of the Electrical Engineering channel and the presenter was explaining how to calculate capacitance in a circuit. We could use more channels dedicated to education in Canada.
It had been a full day and after dinner I was looking forward to a shower and going to bed early, however, I spent several hours working on my journal and it wan’t until 11 pm that I finally went to bed.