Leaving Agra behind us Stuart and I headed west. Our aim was to connect with the Jan Shatabdi Express at Bharatpur Junction to get to Sawai Madhopur.
The route between Agra and Bharatpur is a well-travelled highway, threading through good agricultural land where wheat and other grains are common. En route, the highway passes very close to Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri lies approximately 40 kilometres away from Agra, just outside the border of Rajasthan on the road to Jaipur. This abandoned capital city of the Emperor Akbar lies at the edge of the great plains where successive battles determined the course of India's history. The city took 8 years to build, but was only occupied for 14 years until, in 1586, Akbar was forced by a lack of water supplies to move back to Agra. The main palace buildings are intact, although much of the original city structure is in ruins as the locals have used the stones for building new dwellings. The richness of the architectural detail in the hall of private audience, or the five-storied Panch Mahal, was well worth the trip.
Then on to catch our train at Bharatpur.
We had heard lots of stories about Indian trains - the smell, the chaos, the over-crowding... the unrequested massage! So we weren't expecting a good experience.
However we were pleasanlntly surprised to discover that Indian trains are actually quite charming and a real adventure. It’s chaos, yes, but organised chaos and everything seems to work like clockwork - albeit clockwork from an 1850s grandfather clock.
We had two minutes after the train stopped at the station to scramble aboard and find our seats. It was noisy joyous, and great fun.