Jhelum Express from New Delhi to Agra

It was time to execute the ticket.

11078 which was my departure number only appeared once on display board. After a long time, it didn’t appear, I sat on platform and continued to observe that display board….It’s gone!

Endless waiting on platform 4.

Me: “Sir, can you give me some information?. My train number 11078 is never appear again in that display board. Even though my train will depart on 10:15 am.”.

He: “If your train number disappears from the screen. That means your train is getting delay. “Haze storms” which routinely occur every year indeed often make many trains delay for hours.”

I went back to counter and asked about this problem. They only apologized and confirmed that train was delayed. He estimated that train will leave at 16:00….God.

To drove away endless boredom, I headed for Khan Market. Instead of being stunned, I’d better collected a tourist destination in New Delhi to share with you about it….Later, I will definitely write it.

A corner of Khan Market, New Delhi.

—-****—-

On 14:00 hours…. Ensuring every bond and lock in backpack, I immediately headed to New Delhi Railway Station to ride Jhelum Express which would soon come to pick me up.

An extraordinary curiosity to immediately mingle with Indians in an economy class train, making me be the most impatient person in the world that afternoon.

Portrait of inequality in India’s Capital.

The dull red locomotive shrill screams when approaching me, grimacing and bite the rails to precisely stop on platform 4.

The locomotive hadn’t completely stopped each wagons yet, passengers were running….crowding in front of wagons. I just smiled and was stunned by uniqueness of Indian citizens. While they crammed, I was still busy understanding the wagon numbering because there were wagon numbered 10 and 10A. Very unique person who has the idea of numbering system like that. After back and forth, I finally found my wagon….Yups, Wagon S3 seat No. 41 Low Berth (lower seat).

It was true, the complexity which I imagined from the beginning when buying a ticket occurred. The train inside was very crowded and made it feel cramped.

The allocated seat of three passengers facing each other plus one long folding stool above my head which is used as a sleeper seat (Upper Berth)….Ah, I loved it. an amazing condition.

Hello Sir, excuse me“, a young man passed in front of me holding his wife hand and sat facing me. A sinless smile makes my lips do the same thing. How not, now, in front of me has sat 4 passengers on seats which should for only three passengers….Haha.

While the train was running, I hear faint bluff which is either angry or just normally like that. A fat and whiskered conductor checked his guest tickets one by one. A passenger in opposite side of my seat was scolded, He was unable to showing his ticket, then he showed a laminated card from his wallet. And I didn’t know what was that, It was being able to effectively drove out that fat conductor….Damn.

A office worker in front left of me took out a something from his bag. Like Indian films, their culture is still upheld. He held up high a long stack of four stainless steel dinner box with curry scented. If he knew my heart’s face, he would have smiled when see it was roar laughing….Oh God, this was an original Indian. As if it was be a trigger, another passenger on my left and right was doing the same thing.

Their generosity emanated when they offered me to eat together as a family on train. Did I accept? Nup….I also brought out a local burger package with price about USD 0.75 which I purchased at station’s platform that afternoon. Let’s eat together….Ahhaaa.

A passenger at window seat became the busiest person on our journey because he had to keep closing a wooden window whose locking hooks were worn out. Every few minutes, that window would automatically open and put super cold air into wagon.

Maybe that condition was used by “chai” seller to focus on my wagon to sell his wares. “Chai“, another name for “pulled tea” which be legendary in Dhaka, be favorite in India and spreading to Malaysia. Excited, the stack of paper cups which he held was getting shorter. He would go home with a multiple profit this time.

Cuteness of a children’s toy seller made whole train passenger endlessly burst out laughing. He throwed a rubber spiderman every where as he pleased. Amazingly, the spiderman could perfectly stick….Haha. It was be an entertainment to forget many problems at that day which they have faced.

Guys….When did the last time our trains (Indonesia’s trains) still had sellers of all kinds inside it?….Hahaha….I forgot. It was long time a rule about seller restriction in our trains.

The train which stopped….brought down its passenger….took its passengers….Then drove back and kept repeating it at each station made me realize that there was never an announcement where did the train stopped?

Me: “How long will the train run to its last destination?”

He: “Jhelum Express will stop in Pune on 6 am tomorrow morning

Me: “Thanks Sir”, I bitterly smiled with worry.

Now, my enemy was one….i.e Information….the absence of data packets in my gadget further strengthened my mortal enemy that night. I had to asking questions a lot to defeat it.

Me: “Where will you stop, Sir?”

He: “At Mathura Junction Station

Me: “Do you know Agra Cantt Station?

He: “Sure, 2 stops after my station

Me: “Oh, nice”, I was relieved…. Once he got down, I just had to count 2x stops. That was Agra Cantt.

He: “Are you from China?

Me: “No, I’m Indonesian”.

He: “What for do you go to Agra?”

Me: “Taj Mahal, Sir

He: “Oh, very happy to hear Indonesian goes to Taj Mahal

Me: “Taj Mahal….My dream to visiting it

He: “Nice”. Shaking my hand with his happiness which can’t hidden.

That was 10 minutes conversation before he got off at Mathura Junction Station. After that I would get off at next two stops namely Agra Cantt Station.

A side of Agra Cantt Station.

I finally arrived in Agra on 20:30 hours.

It was time to go to hotel….Then slept.

SCAM….Something Real in India

Hotel Staff: “Go to New Delhi Railway Station platform 1 floor 1!“, a short answer was spoken by beautiful staff who still looked busy in accepting traveler from various nations.

Me: “Thank you, honey Ms”.

Oh yes, looking for the nearest dormitory from MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) station is a habit which has been in me.

I started to open GoStops Delhi Hostel’s door and passed a few disadvantaged citizens. It was touched when the sun’s rays were the only thing which could help warm them who were still asleep curled up on an old foam mattress which I couldn’t know how they got it.

300 meters later I arrived at Delhi Gate Metro Station. Passing a X-ray gate every time when I entered MRT station in New Delhi made me feel safe while using train on its track.

Let’s see inside of subway station in New Delhi….This is Indira Gandhi Airport Metro Station when I first time arrived in India.

Going through Delhi Metro Violet Line and then transferring to Yellow Line at Kashmere Gate Metro Station, so at third station I arrived at New Delhi Metro Station.

Arriving at final destination, I had to move between two modes of train which weren’t integrated. Leaving clean and well-maintained New Delhi Metro Station to New Delhi Railway Station which is more than just dirty. The distance between them is only around 450 meters.

Walking 6 minutes, I arrived in front of New Delhi Railway Station.

From a connecting bridge between platforms, I noticed that Indian Railways officer sprayed water on railroad track. I thought they were so disciplined to reduce dust rate in air, it turns out some time later I knew that they were cleaning railroad tracks from human waste …. # unique.

Upss….The incident arrived:

Scammer: “Where will you go, Sir?”

Me: “Agra.

Scammer: “Let me help you to get the ticket.”

Me: “Oh thanks. Based information from my hotel that ticket counter is on platform 1 floor 1.”

Scammer: “Oh, yes. But It’s Friday. So, the counter is closed. You can get the ticket at left side of this station.

Me: “Oh, OK.

Either “Unknow” or “Stupid“, I followed all his instructions. A handsome young man didn’t accompany my steps, so there wasn’t slightest suspicion in my brain. Amazingly, there was a person at a station gate who seemed to directing me about where ticket sales counter was located. He was obviously directing me to an office at end of road on the left.

Oh, this is a travel agent’s office, not an Indian Railways office“, I thought. I canceled to going up the next step and turned to leave their office. Even though one of them continued to chase me, I smoothly insisted by saying that I would postpone my departure to Agra until tomorrow, so that I could reduce his emotions that seemed to be rising.

Huftt….I was safe now. Second scam which happened to me after the first one which happened in Bangkok at end of 2013.

—-****—-

Relieving which felt doubled because in addition to being able to find International Tourist Bureau ticket sales office on platform 1 floor 1, I also got a bonus for protect mysely in this office from New Delhi’s cold weather that made me feel frozen.

The modest office is beautified with excellent ticket sales officer consulting services for every tourist. So you have to be patient for waiting for your queue number to be called by sales officer because one buyer could consult for about 10-15 minutes, some even more. Not a problem for me, a longer queue time would be better because I didn’t need to be cold in out of office.

Jhelum Express ticket for about USD 2.9 was already in my hand.

Let’s go to Agra….Visiting Taj Mahal….Yuhuuu.

5 Agra’s Tourist Attraction in 10 Hours

SEVERE……….

A fog storm in northern India has robbed more than six hours of my time. But my aggravation was defeated by my own vulnerability against India’s cold air .

Fog calamity in India

Jhelum Express pulled up at Agra on 8:30 pm. Do you want to hear my story in using their economic train….Just wait….HORRIBLE !!!.

There was nothing I could do that night. Temperature almost touched zero degree Celsius, even air quickly cooled fried noodles I bought at street food stall. Even Indian spices which are stinging, I still couldn’t feel because a frozen began to hit my tongue.

I was like a coward hiding under the blanket of GoStops Hostel while waiting for the electricity to fill all my “electronic friends”.

Hotel staff: “You must be grateful to be an Indonesian. You can easily go everywhere. Not like me, getting a passport is very difficult. Our government protect their citizen from getting difficult life at out of our country. I had waited for two years to get a passport, I hope I will get this year. I want go around the world like you

Me: “Don’t worry, you will get it, my friend. You will go to my country also sometimes.  One thing that should made you proud with India. Your currency is more stronger than my currency…..Aaannnnddddd, Your country have great histories and cultures in the world.

It was a bit of a serious conversation before I entered room, and a slightly intellectual conversation after previously I only talked to Jhelum Express’ passengers who sitting in front of me and also to taxi driver who transferred me from Agra Cantt Station to hotel.

—-****—-

OKAY….A morning has came

Automatically, I only had 10 valuable hours to explore Agra starting on 7:00 in the morning. This time I wouldn’t justify myself to use public transportation….Too tight….Luckily, I did sharing costs with fellow backpacker roommates for a taxi services which was willing to be chartered until afternoon. Because in the afternoon, I would go to New Delhi. I just needed to spend USD 4.4 for my entire transportation fee.

1. Taj Mahal

Didn’t daring to touch water to wash myself, I rushed into a taxi which was ready in front of hostel. That morning….Fog was so thick which even the morning sun was unable to uncover it.

Yes, finally….I headed for dream destination of tourists all over the world….Taj Mahal

Taxi moved north along Agra-Bah Road. Not far away, only 3.5 km which is traveled in 15 minutes. Taxi stopped at edge of road, I was only remember a sign “Malik Tour & Travel” as a marker.

Bajaj service for USD 2.9 became a next connector toward Taj Mahal West Gate Ticket Office. I spend USD 7.25 to get a entry ticket.

Every inchies in Taj Mahal always carried an impression, a only thing which really disturbed all tourists was fog which made them feel annoyed because they couldn’t capture themselves with this historical building.

Taj Mahal was captured from Mehtab Bagh.

This mainstay of Uttar Pradesh State Tourism is truly impressive. A tomb which is dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal (wife of emperor Shah Jahan) is able to attract 8 million tourists from all over the world each year. One of UNESCO World Heritage Sites which you must visit if you enter Mahabharata land.

2. Itimad ud Daulah Tomb

Two hours of absorbing and enjoying the beauty of Taj Mahal which is almost entirely wrapped in white marble had carved a doctrine in my brain that the world is really beautiful.

Let’s go back to hostel to took a bath and ate a simple free-breakfast which was served by hostel. I immediately packed my backpack for check-out and put it in taxi luggage. After enjoying Agra Fort later, I would immediately go to New Delhi.

Located at 4.5 km north of Taj Mahal, this site offers tranquility and comfort. Unlike with Taj Mahal which is noisy with visitors. Similar but don’t as big as Taj Mahal which make it known as the “Baby Taj“.

A building which inspires architectural style of Taj Mahal.

If Taj Mahal is dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal, the construction of Itimad ud Daulah is dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal’s grandfather named Mirza Ghiyas Beg.

I don’t want to tell much….Visit it, yes!…Yuhuuuuu !!!!

3. Yamuna River

An hour moved quickly. My intention to immediately rushed to next destination ran aground. I was stunned by appearance of a dry river which stretched so broadly, as if showing off its beauty to all who were seeing, crossing or even living in it.

Located at west of Itimad ud Daulah.…Nice.

Guys….That’s Yamuna River….All my life, It was first time to saw a river which very wide like it.

Considered by Hindus as the Goddess Yamuna.

The river which is originating from Yamunotri glacier at Uttarakhand State looked receding and exposed to various forms of waste such as plastic and liquid waste which are easily guessed from its smell. .

4. Mehtab Bagh

Next two kilometers to south….

Licking, sipping and gently swallowing French fries with curry-flavored salt became my next unimportant activity….Set aside for about USD 0.7 to try some street culinary in India! I guarantee that you will be impressed.

Guys, I was already on a side of wide and romantic park….Mehtab Bagh is its name.

Mehtab Bagh” itself has a meaning which is similar to a meaning of pair of words in English i.e “Moonlight Garden“…Yes, how romantic is it?

It was said that….Shah Jahan would build a Black Taj Mahal in this park. But it was never achieved..

It is often been King’s stopover to enjoy beauty of Taj Mahal which is located at opposite it and is only separated by Yamuna River.

The price of admission ticket for USD 2.9 is nothing compared to the beauty of park which you can safely enjoy. Safe?….Yes, park was guarded by two fully armed soldiers who always walk around park.

5. Agra Fort

Masala Tea = 90 Rupee….This is USD 1.2

Egg Fried Rice = 150 Rupee….This is USD 2.1

That was my lunch menu at “The Master Chef” Restaurant at Fatehabad Road before heading to my last destination in Agra….#sad.

Located 2.5 km northwest of Taj Mahal, Agra Fort is also a World Heritage Site which is very prominent in its red color.

The walled city of Agra Fort….Amazing.

You have to pay USD 7.2 to directly imagine how is the Mughal emperor living in Agra Fort.

Walking around as much as you can in Agra Fort before parting with Agra city. I traced one by one of part in this fort.

Entering Diwan-i-Am like Mughal people who are complaining, or entering Diwan-i-Khas like an important royal guest who is being entertained by the king.

Feel the luxury of Jahangiri Mahal, which is a special palace for king’s wife then sat down to relax in Anguri Bagh which was used by women member of kingdom as a royal garden.

And as a Muslim, I also feel obliged to visit Moti Mosque in Agra Fort as a worship place for all kingdom members.

—-****—-

A short time that introduced me to an ancient city in northern India. City whose its architecture influences many building creations around the world.

Make sure that you visit it longer than me because historical values of this city are so high and can’t be enjoyed in an instant time.

Jhelum Express dari New Delhi ke Agra

Saatnya mengeksekusi tiket.

Nomor 11078 yang merupakan nomor keberangkatanku hanya muncul sekali saja di display board. Setelahnya lama tak muncul kembali, aku terduduk di platform dan terus mengamati display board itu….Hilang sudah!

Penantian tak ada akhir di platfom 4.

Aku: “Sir, can you give me some information?. My train number 11078 is never appear again in that display board. Even though my train will depart on 10:15 am.”.

Si Tampan: “If your train number disappears from the screen. That means your train is getting delay. “Haze storms” which routinely occur every year indeed often make many trains delay for hours.”

Aku kembali menuju konter dan menanyakan tentang masalah ini. Mereka hanya meminta maaf dan membenarkan bahwa kereta delay. Dia memperkirakan kereta akan berangkat jam 16:00….Busyeettt.

Untuk mengusir kejenuhan yang tak berujung, aku bertolak menuju Khan Market. Daripada bengong lebih baik aku mengoleksi satu destinasi wisata di New Delhi untuk kubagikan bersama kalian tentangnya….Nanti ya, pasti akan kutulis.

Salah satu sudut Khan Market, New Delhi.

—-****—-

Pukul 14:00….Memastikan kembali setiap ikatan dan kuncian di backpack, aku segera menuju New Delhi Railway Station untuk menaiki Jhelum Express yang akan segera datang menjemputku.

Penasaran yang luar biasa untuk segera berbaur dengan masyarakat India dalam satu gerbong kelas ekonomi, membuatku menjadi orang paling tidak sabar di dunia sore itu.

Potret kesenjangan di Ibukota India.

Lokomotif merah kusam itu berteriak melengking mendekatiku seraya meringis menggigit rel untuk berhenti tepat di platform 4

Belum juga lokomotif itu menghentikan setiap gerbongnya dengan sempurna, para penumpang berlari….berjejal memasuki gerbong. Aku hanya tersenyum dan terpana dengan keunikan warga India. Sementara mereka berdesakan masuk, aku masih sibuk memahami penomoran gerbong karena ada gerbong bernomor 10 dan 10A. Dasar iseng nih orang yang punya ide menomori demikian. Setelah bolak-balik ke depan dan ke belakang, akhirnya aku menemukan gerbongnya….Yups, gerbong S3 kursi no 41 Low Berth (bangku bawah).

Benar adanya, keruwetan yang kubayangkan sejak awal membeli tiket terjadi. Gerbong itu sangat berjubel dan membuatnya terasa sempit.

Bangku teralokasi tiga penumpang saling berhadapan ditambah satu bangku lipat panjang diatas kepalaku yang digunakan sebagai sleeper seat (Upper Berth)….Ah, aku semakin mencintai kondisi ini. Kejadian yang menakjubkan.

Hello Sir, Excuse me”, seorang laki-laki muda melewat didepanku sambil menggandeng istrinya lalu duduk berhadapan denganku. Senyum tanpa dosanya membuat bibirku pun melakukan hal yang sama. Bagaimana tidak, di depanku sekarang telah duduk 4 penumpang dengan kursi yang hanya bertuliskan tiga nomor saja….Hahaha.

Sembari kereta berjalan, aku mendengar sayup-sayup gertakan yang entah itu marah atau memang begitu adanya. Kondektur tambun berkumis melintir itu mengecek satu persatu tiket tamunya. Satu penumpang di seberang kursiku dimarahinya habis-habisan gegara tak mampu menunjukkan tiket, si penumpang lalu menunjukkan sebuah kartu terlaminating dari dalam dompetnya. Dan entah itu apa, mampu mengusir kondektur tambun itu dengan efektif dari hadapannya….Damn.

Bapak pekerja kantoran di kiri depanku mengeluarkan sesuatu dari tasnya. Bak film-film India, adat itu masih dijunjungnya. Rantang panjang bertumpuk empat berbahan stainless beraroma kari diangkatnya tinggi-tinggi. Andai dia tahu muka hatiku, pasti dia tersenyum melihatnya terbahak….Omaigat, ini mah India yang orisinil. Seolah menjadi menjadi pemicu ledakan, penumpang lain dikiri kananku pun melakukan hal yang sama.

Kemurahan hati itu terpancar seiring dengan tutur mereka menawarkan diri untuk makan bersama sebagai satu keluarga di dalam kereta. Kuterima? Tidak….Aku juga mengeluarkan setangkup burger lokal seharga Rp. 10.000 yang terbeli di platform stasiun sore tadi. Mari kita makan bersama….

Si Bapak dipinggir jendela menjadi orang tersibuk sepanjang perjalanan karena harus terus menutup jendela kayu yang kait penguncinya sudah usang. Setiap sekian menit jandela itu akan tertarik ke atas dan memasukkan udara super dingin ke dalam gerbong.

Mungkin kondisi itulah yang dimanfaatkan oleh penjual chai untuk berfokus di gerbongku demi menghabiskan dagangannya. “Chai”, nama lain dari teh tarik yang melegenda di Dhaka, terfavorit di India dan menyebar ke Malaysia. Girang hatinya, tumpukan gelas kertas yang digenggamnya semakin memendek. Dia akan pulang dengan keuntungan berlipat kali ini.

Kelucuan penjual mainan anak-anak membuat seisi kereta tak henti-hentinya terbahak. Dia melempar spiderman karetnya kesana kemari sesuka hati. Hebatnya, si spiderman itu bisa menempel dengan sempurna….Hahaha. Hiburan untuk melupakan masalah kehidupan seharian yang sudah mereka hadapi.

Guys….Kapan terakhir kali kereta kita masih ada penjual segala macam di dalam gerbong?….Hahaha….Aku saja sudah lupa saking lamanya aturan itu diketatkan.

Kereta yang berhenti….Menurunkan….Menaikkan penumpang….Lalu melaju kembali dan terus mengulangnya di setiap stasiun baru membuatku sadar bahwa tak pernah ada pengumuman kereta berhenti di stasiun mana?.

Aku: “How long will the train run to its last destination?”

Dia: “Jhelum Express will stop in Pune on 6 am tomorrow morning

Aku: “Thanks Sir”, Aku tersenyum pahit penuh kekhawatiran.

Kini musuhku satu….Informasi, ketiadaan paket data di gawaiku semakin memperkuat musuh bebuyutanku malam itu. Aku harus banyak bertanya untuk mengalahkannya.

Aku: “Where will you stop, Sir?”

Dia: “At Mathura Junction Station

Aku: “Do you know Agra Cantt Station?

Dia: “Sure, 2 stops after my station

Aku: “Oh, nice”, Aku lega….Begitu dia turun, aku tinggal hitung 2x berhenti. Itu Agra Cantt

Dia: “Are you from China?

Aku: “No, I’m Indonesian”. Mana ada tampang China gelap kayak gue.

Dia: “What for do you go to Agra?”

Aku: “Taj Mahal, Sir

Dia: “Oh, very happy to hear Indonesian goes to Taj Mahal

Aku: “Taj Mahal….My dream to visiting it

Dia: “Nice”. Menyalamiku dengan kebahagiaan tak tersembunyikan.

Itulah percakapan 10 menit sebelum dia turun di Mathura Junction Station. Setelahnya aku akan menyusul turun di dua perhentian berikutnya yaitu Agra Cantt Station.

Salah satu sisi Agra Cantt Station.

Aku akhirnya tiba di kota Agra pada pukul 20:30.

Saatnya menuju hotel…..Makan malam tyuss bobok.

Cari tiket kereta dari New Delhi ke Agra melalui 12go Asia. Berikutnya linknya:  https://12go.asia/?z=3283832

SCAM….Sesuatu yang Nyata di India

Staff Hotel: “Go to New Delhi Railway Station platform 1 floor 1!”, jawaban singkat tertutur dari bibir si cantiq yang masih terlihat sibuk menerima para penginap dari berbagai bangsa.

Aku: “Thank you, honey Ms”.

Oh ya, mencari dormitory terdekat dari stasiun MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) memang kebiasaan yang telah bersifat di diriku.

Aku mulai membuka pintu goStops Delhi Hostel dan melintas beberapa warga yang kurang beruntung. Terenyuh ketika sinar surya satu-satunya yang bisa membantu menghangatkan mereka yang masih pulas meringkuk diatas kasur busa bekas yang entah mereka dapat dari mana.

300 meter kemudian aku tiba Delhi Gate Metro Station. Melewati X-ray gate setiap memasuki stasiun MRT di New Delhi menjadikanku merasa aman selama melaju di jalurnya.

Yuk kita lihat dalaman ttasiun subway di New Delhi…Ini adalah Indira Gandhi Airport Metro Station saat pertama kali aku tiba di India

Menyusuri Delhi Metro Violet Line dan kemudian bertransfer ke Yellow Line di Kashmere Gate Metro Station, maka di stasiun ketiga aku tiba di New Delhi Metro Station.

Tiba di tujuan akhir, aku harus berpindah antar dua moda kereta yang tak terintegrasi. Meninggalkan New Delhi Metro Station yang begitu bersih terawat menuju New Delhi Railway Station yang lebih dari sekedar kotor. Jaraknya antar keduanya hanya sekitar 450 meter.

Berjalan 6 menit, aku tiba di depan New Delhi Railway Station

Dari tangga penghubung antar platform, kuperhatikan petugas Indian Railways itu menyemprotkan air di atas jalur kereta. Kupikir mereka begitu disiplin mengurangi laju debu di udara, ternyata beberapa waktu kemudian aku tahu bahwa mereka sedang membersihkan jalur kereta api dari kotoran manusia….#unique.

Upss….Kejadian itu tiba:

Scammer: “Where will you go, Sir?”

Aku: “Agra.

Scammer: “Let me help you to get the ticket.”

Aku: “Oh thanks. Based information from my hotel that ticket counter is on platform 1 floor 1.”

Scammer: “Oh, yes. But It’s Friday. So, the counter is closed. You can get the ticket at left side of this station.

Aku: “Oh, OK.

Entah “Bego” atau “Dungu”, aku mengikuti semua petunjuknya. Pemuda tampan itu tak menyertai langkahku, sehingga tak ada kecurigaan sedikitpun di otakku. Hebatnya, ada seorang di gerbang stasiun yang kesannya menunjukkan dimana lokasi konter penjualan tiket tersebut. Jelas sekali mengarahkanku ke sebuah kantor di ujung jalan sebelah kiri.

Oh, ini kantor agen travel, bukan kantor Indian Railways”, batinku. Aku batal menaiki anak tangga berikutnya dan berbalik meninggalkan kantor mereka. Walau salah satu dari mereka terus mengejarku, aku bersikukuh halus dengan menyampaikan akan menunda keberangkatan ke Agra hingga esok hari saja, sehingga mampu meredam emosinya yang terlihat mulai meninggi.

Huftt….Selamett. Scam kedua yang menimpaku setelah terakhir menghampiriku di Bangkok di akhir 2013.

—-****—-

Kelegaan yang terasa berlipat karena selain mampu menemukan kantor penjualan tiket milik International Tourist Bureau di platform 1 lantai 1, Aku juga mendapat bonus berlindung dalam kantor itu dari dinginnya terpaan udara New Delhi yang membuatku serasa beku.

Kantor yang sederhana itu dipercantik dengan layanan konsultasi petugas penjualan tiket kepada setiap turis dengan sangat baiknya. Jadi kamu harus bersabar menunggu nomor antrianmu dipanggil petugas karena satu pembeli bisa berkonsultasi 10-15 menit, beberapa bahkan lebih. Tak menjadi masalah bagiku, semakin lama semakin baik karena aku tak perlu kedinginan diluar sana.

Tiket Jhelum Express seharga Rp. 40.000 sudah di tangan.

Yuk ke Agra….Bersih-bersih Taj Mahal….Yuhuuu.

Lima Destinasi Wisata Agra dalam 10 Jam.

PARAHHHHH…..

Badai kabut di utara India telah merampas waktuku lebih dari 6 jam.  Tetapi kejengkelan telak terkalahkan dengan keripuhanku sendiri melawan super dinginnya udara Negeri Nehru itu.

Petaka kabut di India

Jhelum Express menepi di Agra pada 20:30. Pengen denger ceritaku menjajal kereta ekonomi mereka….nanti saja lah….MENGERIKAN !!!.

Tak ada yang bisa kuperbuat malam itu. Suhu yang hampir menyentuh nol derajat Celcius, bahkan udara dengan cepat mendinginkan sajian mie goreng pinggir jalan yang kubeli. Bumbu India yang terkenal menyengat itu bahkan tak mampu kurasakan karena beku mulai menghantam lidah.

Aku bak seorang pengecut yang bersembunyi di balik selimut GoStops Hostel sambil menunggu aliran listrik memenuhi segenap “teman elektronikku”.

Staff Hotel: “You must be grateful to be an Indonesian. You can easily go everywhere. Not like me, getting a passport is very difficult. Our government protect their citizen from getting difficult life at out of our country. I had waited for two years to get a passport, I hope I will get this year. I want go around the world like you

Aku: “Don’t worry, you will get it, my friend. You will go to my country also sometimes.  One thing that should made you proud with India. Your currency is more stronger than my currency…..Aaannnnddddd, Your country have great histories and cultures in the world.

Itu sedikit percakapan serius sebelum aku memasuki kamar, dan percakapan yang sedikit intelektual setelah sebelumnya aku hanya berbicara dengan penumpang kereta yang duduk di depanku dan sopir taxi yang mentransferku dari Stasiun Agra Cantt ke hotel.

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OKAY….Kukuruyukkkkk….#perasaanganemuayam.

Automatically, Aku hanya memiliki 10 jam berharga untuk mengeksplorasi Agra dimulai dari jam 7 pagi. Kali ini aku tak akan membenarkan diriku untuk menggunakan transportasi umum….Terlalu mepet….Beruntungnya, aku melakukan sharing cost bersama teman-teman backpacker sekamar untuk jasa taxi yang bersedia di carter hingga sore hari. Karena sore hari, aku akan menuju New Delhi. Aku hanya perlu mengeluarkan Rp. 60.000 untuk biaya transportasiku seharian.

1. Taj Mahal

Tak berani menyentuh air untuk membasuh badan, aku tergopoh memasuki taxi yang sudah siap di depan hostel. Pagi itu….Kabut sangat tebal bahkan matahari pagi tak mampu menyibaknya.

Yes, akhirnya….Aku menuju destinasi idaman turis seluruh dunia….Taj Mahal

Taxi bergerak ke utara menyusuri Agra-Bah Road. Tak jauh, hanya 3.5 km yang tertempuh dalam 15 menit. Taxi berhenti di tepi jalanan, aku hanya ingat dengan papan nama “Malik Tour & Travel” sebagai penanda.

Jasa bajaj seharga Rp. 40.000 menjadi penghubung berikutnya menuju Taj Mahal West Gate Ticket Office. Kulepas Rp. 98.000 untuk mendapatkan tiket masuknya.

Setiap jengkal di Taj Mahal selalu menggoreskan kesan, satu-satunya benda yang sangat mengganggu para wisatawan adalah kabut yang membuat mereka seakan kesal tak bisa mengabadikan dirinya bersama bangunan sangat bersejarah itu.

Taj Mahal tertangkap dari Mehtab Bagh.

Wisata andalan Negara Bagian Uttar Pradesh itu memang sungguh mengesankan. Makam yang didedikasikan untuk Mumtaz Mahal (istri dari kaisar Shah Jahan) sanggup menarik 8 juta wisatawan dari seluruh dunia setiap tahunnya. Salah satu Situs Warisan Dunia UNESCO yang harus kamu kunjungi jika memasuki tanah Mahabharata itu.       

2. Itimad ud Daulah Tomb

Dua jam meresapi dan menikmati keindahan Taj Mahal yang hampir keseluruhannya berbalut marmer putih mematri doktrin di otakku bahwa dunia itu sungguh indah.

Yuk, balik ke hostel untuk berbasuh dan menyantap sajian free-breakfast sederhana yang disajikan hostel. Aku sendiri langsung berkemas check-out dan menaruh backpack di bagasi taxi. Selepas menengok Agra Fort nanti, aku akan langsung bertolak ke New Delhi.

Berada 4.5 km di utara Taj Mahal, situs ini menawarkan ketenangan dan kenyamanan. Tak seperti Taj Mahal yang bising pengunjung. Mirip tapi tak sebesar Taj Mahal menjadikannya dikenal sebagai “Bayi Taj”.

Adalah bangunan yang mengilhami gaya arsitektur Taj Mahal.

Jika Taj Mahal didedikasikan untuk Mumtaz Mahal, maka pembangunan Itimad ud Daulah didedikasikan untuk kakek dari Mumtaz Mahal yang bernama Mirza Ghiyas Beg.

Aku ndak mau bercerita banyak….Datang sendiri aja ya….Yuhuuuuu !!!!

3. Yamuna River

Satu jam bergulir dengan cepatnya. Niatanku untuk segera bergegas menuju destinasi berikutnya kandas. Aku tertegun dengan penampakan sungai kering nan menghampar begitu luas, seakan memamerkan kegagahan kepada semua yang makhluk melihat, melintasi atau bahkan hidup daripadanya.

Terletak di sebelah barat Itimad ud Daulah……Beuh,

Man….Itu Sungai Yamuna….Seumur-umur, aku baru melihat sungai seluas itu.

Didaulat umat Hindu sebagai Dewi Yamuna.

Sungai yang bersumber dari gletser Yamunotri di  Negara Bagian Uttarakhand ini terlihat surut dan terpapar berbagai bentuk limbah seperti plastik dan limbah cair yang mudah diterka dari baunya.

4. Mehtab Bagh

Dua kilometer berikutnya di selatan…..

Menjilat, menyesap dan menelan pelan french fries jalanan berbumbu garam beraroma kari menjadi aktivitas tak pentingku berikutnya….Sisihkan beberapa Rp. 10.000-an untuk mencoba beberapa kuliner ringan jalanan di India !. Kujamin kamu akan terkesan.

Gaes, aku sudah di sisi sebuah taman nan lebar dan romantis….Mehtab Bagh namanya.

Mehtab Bagh” sendiri memiliki makna yang tak jauh dari sepasang kata dalam Bahasa Inggris “Moonlight Garden”….tuh, gimana ga romantis coba?.

Konon…. Shah Jahan akan membangun Black Taj Mahal di taman ini. Tapi tak pernah kesampaian.

Sering menjadi persinggahan sang Raja untuk menikmati keindahan Taj Mahal yang berada di seberangnya dan hanya terpisahkan oleh Sungai Yamuna.

Harga tiket masuk sebesar Rp. 40.000 tidaklah seberapa dibandingkan dengan keindahan taman yang bisa kamu nikmati dengan aman. Aman?….Ya taman ini dijaga dua tentara bersenjata lengkap yang selalu berkeliling taman.

5. Agra Fort

Masala Tea = 90 Rupee ….ini mah Rp. 17.000

Egg Fried Rice = 150 Rupee….yah sekitar Rp. 29.000.

Itulah menu makan siangku di “The Master Chef” Restaurant di bilangan Fatehabad Road sebelum menuju destinasi terakhirku di Agra….#sedih.

Terletak 2.5 km di barat laut Taj Mahal, Agra Fort juga menjadi Situs Warisan Dunia yang sangat menonjol dengan warna merahnya.

Kota berdinding ala Agra Fort….Menakjubkan.

Kamu harus membayar Rp. 98.000 untuk membayangkan secara langsung para kaisar Mughal tinggal di Agra Fort ini.

Berkeliling sepuasnya di dalam Agra Fort sebelum berpisah dengan kota Agra. Aku menelusuri satu demi satu bagian didalam banteng kota ini.

Memasuki Diwan-i-Am bak rakyat Mughal yang sedang berkeluh kesah, atau memasuki Diwan-i-Khas bak tamu penting kerajaan yang sedang dijamu sang raja.

Merasakan kemewahan Jahangiri Mahal yang merupakan istana khusus untuk istri raja, lalu terduduk merelaksasi diri di Anguri Bagh yang pada masanya digunakan oleh para wanita anggota kerajaan sebagai taman kerajaan.

Dan sebagai seorang muslim, aku juga merasa wajib menapaki Moti Masjid didalam Agra Fort sebagai tempat peribadatan segenap anggota kerajaan.

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Waktu singkat yang mengenalkanku pada kota kuno di utara India. Kota yang arsitekturnya mempengaruhi banyak kreasi bangunan di seluruh dunia.

Pastikan kamu mengunjunginya lebih lama dariku karena nilai sejarah kota ini begitu tinggi dan tak bisa dinikmati dalam sekejap saja.