There was a constant stream of interesting things to see - our maximum number of people on a motor bike was five but I actually think that was beaten by the man who had a small goat in his arms, two more wedged at his feet on his scooter, and one tied behind. Truck after truck passed filled with groups of women in gorgeous saris - and they seemed to travel quite often with a sari pulled across their faces - I am not sure if that was modesty or sun protection. Fair skin is highly valued in this country.
We planned to see Agra Fort in the afternoon and as we were earlier than we expected and trying to fit more into our time than my tour will (we had eleven days to do what they will do in eighteen) we decided to see Agra Fort and then to go straight over to the Taj Mahal.
Our hotel was gorgeous, very much a relic of the British occupation.
We settled our gear, ate and went straight to Agra Fort.
I knew it would be red. I had seen a similar red sandstone building in Delhi and been a bit disappointed that we would not actually look at it but I had been assured that Agra was better.
I had never realised how red it would be. The sandstone from a distance was a dark terracotta, pinkish where the sun hit it. But once across the drawbridge and inside the fort the high red walls towered above our heads and wrapped us in warmth. It is rich and dark and curiously soft and comforting - like being wrapped in soft rich velvet. It is so easy on the eyes - like looking at smooth suede. It is a seductive colour and as we walked into the long ramp that took us up to the main door I was shivery with excitement.
The main entrance was magnificently inlaid - and I warn anyone not into patterning that you had better stop reading right now. This post will have a lot of patterning.
The only warning Bob had given me as I left was that I was not to pat monkeys. Well - he went on to add "or dogs, or cats or any animal." Monkeys were everywhere.
We were told that these platforms - which were well above our heads - were for passengers to load onto elephants, and that the howdah would reach to this level.
I did not expect to be moved by gardens in India but the original formal patchwork layouts with sandstone edges were unexpected, and they are beautifully maintained.
Every door was different. Every surface had patterns somewhere. I was intrigued and starting to take so many photographs that I worried that I might not have enough left for the Taj Mahal.
which was just across the way.
If all of this does not have quilters reaching for their pencils I will be surprised.
I mentioned a tour in the last post. I will be leading a tour to India in October. It is a time when it is cool. You can watch this blog for the next few weeks as I attempt to blog the things I saw, and if you are interested in coming please contact me. If you click on my website link there is an email link on that. It is a textile oriented tour, but there are things in India that should not be missed and we will see a lot of these as well. It is a small group - I take sixteen to twenty.
I did not expect to be drawn to this country - and I was. Come with me and see why.