After leaving Agra, we drove to Bharatpur stopping at Fatehpur Sikri on the way. Fatehpur Sikri was constructed beginning in 1570 and is now a ghost city. Mughal Emperor Akbar visited Sikri and was given a prediction of the birth of a son. When the prediction came true, he built his new capital here.
We arrived in the late morning and walked around the abandoned city until we arrived at the large mosque. The four of us entered the mosque and spent some time there.
The most beautiful part of this mosque is the white marble tomb of Shaikh Salim Chishti, the man who made the prediction of a son for Akbar. Childless women visit this tomb and tie a thread to the marble lattice screens. The lattice screens here are exquisite.
After splitting up and walking around the mosque on our own, I met up with Carol again and walked toward the entrance we used to come in to the mosque. On our walk back over, a little boy came up to us and told us that our friends were over by the entrance we were walking toward. We had noticed by now how quickly everyone knows who is in which group of travelers and they all keep their eyes on you. We had already grown distrusting of people who approached us like this - even little boys.
When we met up with one of the other girls, Monita, we asked her if she had seen our last companion, Taali'ah. She had received a text message that Taali'ah was waiting outside, but when we exited the mosque, she was nowhere to be found. We searched in the mosque, outside the mosque, sent text messages - everything we could think of to find out where she had gone. The little boy had followed us and told us that our friend "not here, go". But, when we tried to get more information from him, the message was unclear. I chatted to him, watching our stuff, while Carol searched again in the mosque. His name was Rasa, he was ten years old, and he was selling postcards and jewelry - he would pull out an impossible amount from his little pockets. He ran back and forth to the other buildings searching for our friend as well.
Finally, after about an hour, the text messages finally came through and we found out that Taali'ah had gone back to the car after not finding us and being harrassed by touts. We wanted to give Rasa something for helping us look for her, but he would not accept money from me. I asked him how much his wares were, but they were quite expensive now, so I handed him the amount I wanted to give him and we headed back to the car. We hadn't just walked back to the car earlier because the parking area was quite a walk from the mosque and we didn't want to leave the area where we had last seen our friend.
After leaving Fatehpur Sikri, we continued on our way to Bharatpur where we stayed the night. We had lunch at our hotels and then met up to visit the bird sanctuary at Keoladeo Ghana National Park. They were out of bicycles to rent, so we had a nice walk in the sanctuary seeing jackals, storks, egrets, owls, deer, antelope, buffalo, cattle, and an eagle.
We loved the hotel where we stayed and wished that we could stay longer to take it all in. There were old photos on the walls - some dating back to the 1920s - of Indians and Europeans. Our room had a large column in the middle with archways quartering the room. I could imagine what it must have been like to be here nearly 100 years ago. Outside the gates of our hotel was a very different place.
More photos at flickr.