By 8am we were ready. Our local Mahindra Mojo tribe friends had come to see us. The plan was to visit some places along the way and have breakfast and then they would see us off to our next destination which was Agra.
We had a comfortable stay last night. The church does not charge anything for staying there but we decided to donate 500 rs each which would go into the donation box. What an irony it was. We being an Hindu, ate in a Muslim hotel and slept in a Church! How fascinating.
We decided first go to the iconic Rumi Gate.
I have put the directions to the place below. Don’t miss it when you are in Lucknow.
Somewhere, at the back of mind I was going through the lanes of Varanasi. It was the same feeling here. I knew for sure that our food trail had again resumed and that these new friends were not going to leave us before they gave the taste of all the best delicacies available here.
Finally we gave up on the food trail as our tummies were full to the brim. We thanked our hosts for treating us with some really tasty delicacies.
It was time for us to move ahead on our journey. The friends belonged to a local riding club named ‘GREEN PISTONS RIDER CLUB’ having the motto of #protectionofcreation. We took a group photo and they also distributed seed bags to us and urged us to throw seeds on fertile grounds along our journey. It was really nice of them for this initiative and we thanked them for their hospitality and gesture. These people had won our hearts. Last night we were complete strangers and now we were all brothers.
When we had left the church in the morning, we had noticed that the rear tyre on CSK sir’s bike had been completely worn off. It needed immediate replacement as we could see the inner metal cores from the inside.
Our friends had immediately jumped into action and called the local shop which possibly could be stocking that tyre. We needed a Pirelli one. To our luck, we had got news that the tyre was in stock at one of their friend’s shop who ran the ‘Race Dynamics’ motorcycle garage. But it was too early in the morning and so he had told to come when the shop opened.
Now, the time was around 10 am and we headed straight to his shop.
Only few friends had accompanied us to the garage and while the work was completed on the bike, they bid adieu to us and wished for our safe ride back home. Jitender intended to continue with us till we left the city.
We were really short of words for Mr. Jitender. He had already done a lot for us and was in touch with us right from the start till the end. It is with his warm hospitality that we really had a comfortable time here in Lucknow. It was an emotional moment letting him go. The city was really beautiful though we couldn’t get much time to explore as were pressed against time.
The roads were so smooth that there wasn’t any inch of depression on the surface. This made us sleepy at times as the speed was constant and so was the body. The road quality really surprised me and was in contrast to other roads see in Uttar Pradesh.
The highway had barricades on both the sides to restrict unwanted movements. Even a gap in median was hard to spot by. On top of that there were speed cameras installed and the ones who broke the speed barriers, their car registration numbers along with speed were being flashed on the big screen so that everyone could see. There were distance boards kept nearly at every 100 mtr to tell you precisely how much distance of the highway was remaining. There was a single petrol outlet combined with a resto mall where we decided to take break for lunch. The time was nearing 3pm.
We had initially planned to halt in Agra and see the ‘Taj Mahal’ the next day. But, since it looked like we could reach early (Thanks to the expressway), we straightaway decided to head in the direction of Taj Mahal.
When we reached the place the time was around 4:30 pm. We parked our bikes in the parking lots and got ourselves a parking ticket. We paid extra for the parking to keep our belongings safe.
We could see some inquisitive people loitering around us. When we asked them, they told that they were guides and were coaxing us to get one to show the Taj Mahal. They were telling us to hurry in our decision as the last slot of the day to visit the Taj Mahal was about to close. It looked liked we had no choice and so we hired one.
When we were in the line waiting for our tickets, we could see the guide directly going inside the booking office and speaking something with the person. And within no time, he handed us our booked tickets. He told to us hurry and try to catch the shuttle bus who was ferrying passengers to the entry gate. The guides seriously had some connection here with the ticketing office. The ticket costs us around 250 bucks.
It was long pending in my wish list to visit Agra and see the Taj Mahal. In fact, there are many places to visit in Agra but Taj just stands out. I had never got a chance to go nearby Agra and hence could not get the opportunity to visit the site.
And here I was standing at its entrance and feeling its grandeur. The guide started to explain all the facts and figures. I wont be writing all the details here and left to you to explore when you visit the Taj.
The night had fallen and we could barely see anything now. We had spent around 1 1/2 half hour exploring our history. It was really fascinating as to how the Taj was built and some of its facts. We decided to leave the place and find ourselves a suitable hotel just outside the premises. We had really made a good decision of seeing the Taj today iteself so that tomorrow we could proceed towards our next destination.
Just outside the parking lot, we got held of a person who helped us get a hotel for a decent rate. Being in the vicinity of the Taj, the rates were very high compared to our budget. But, after some searching and negotiation we passed. As usual we took 2 rooms for a total of 2000 rs and comfortably checked in.
Petha is synonymous with Agra and how could we just leave the city without having a taste of it. While coming out of the parking lot at the Taj premises, we could see many shops selling Pethas but we were not quite sure as to which one was famous and authentic. We heard from the local people that many fakes had been evolved who were selling ‘Pethas’ using the original brand name of ‘Pancherry Petha’.
We decided to have dinner outside so that we could see a little bit of the city and do our shopping of ‘Pethas’ too. CSK sir was sitting pillion behind me. He searched on the google for the location of the authentic ‘Petha’ shop. He found directions in one of the blogs written online but when we reached to that point, we could not see any shop. Frustrated, we asked a local pan shop nearby to us about its location. And, to our luck, we found a Marathi guy smoking cigarette there. He overheard me asking the owner about the directions for the ‘Petha’ shop. In in no time, he was all there for help. He was in Army and stationed there in Agra cantonment. We got involved in conversations before he took us to the shop. He was from Nigdi, Pune which is not far away from my home.
He helped us in buying the ‘Petha’ as he was close friend of the shop owner. He sold a large variety of ‘Pethas’ in different flavors. He kept on handing small samples for tasting towards us and all of them tasted good. It was difficult to choose among them. Finally, the owner only helped us in getting the right flavor packed for us. We all bought in bulk quantity. In all, I liked the ‘Paan Petha’ very much and you should not miss that. As we had bought in large numbers, he also offered a different flavored ‘Petha’ free of cost for us.
I am giving the exact location of this shop below so that you dont buy any fakes when you are in Agra. This is the place where you will get the authentic Agra famous ‘Petha’. It was really worth the wait and time we spent in search of ‘Petha’. Good things don’t come easy.
We then decided to head back in the direction of our hotel and and stop for dinner on the way.
It was 11pm by the time we reached the hotel. There was nothing doing. I just crashed into the bed. We had saved one complete day. Next day we were heading towards our National Capital Delhi and there after towards Jaipur. The destination was not fixed but we tried to stretch ourselves and see till where we could reach.