On Sunday we got a chance to go visit the Taj Mahal. It is after all one of the 7 wonders of the world. Just for clarification there are two 7 Wonders of the World. Old and New. The Taj Mahal bears it’s distinct place in the new list.
The Taj Mahal stands proud and tall at the banks of the river, Yamuna in Agra, U.P. With all the mentions in text books and looking at it’s picture for years we were finally getting to visit it. We had initially planned to see the Taj Mahal in full-moon but due to some circumstances we couldn’t make the trip. For those who don’t know about it, the monument is open for public viewing once a month during full-moon. But you have to call ahead and book tickets for it 2 days prior to your visit. They say it’s a splendid view of the Taj, as it looks calm and pristine on the full-moon night. My next trip to Taj will be on a night like that.
We left early for Agra. It’s approximately 4 hrs from Delhi by road. There are a couple of highways that lead to Agra. But we took the Yamuna Expressway. And gosh! it is a delight to drive on. The tolls are more but they did a great job with it. We kept up an average speed of 120km/hr and it was exhilarating. We stopped for breakfast at a highway dhaba and then we were off again.
We reached Agra around 9:30 and it took us another 45 minutes to maneuver traffic to reach the Taj. Once there we decided not to take a guide. You will find a lot of animal driven carts there along with the newer electric rickshaws. They take the tourists to and from the parking lot which is 1 km away from the Taj premises. There are gardens in and around the Taj where the mughals used to take evening strolls. It’s a refreshing sight after the traffic packed Agra roads.
A suggestion, it’s better to visit the Taj in winters. The heat was bearable but since the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum one has to go in without shoes. Walking on the white marble flooring heated due to the summer sun is like walking on a hot bed of coals. I would suggest to get shoe covers from the main gate so that you can wear them over your shoes. It serves two purposes, one you don’t have to remove your shoes and two your feet are saved from the agony of walking on hot marble.
Geared up with our Cameras we entered to see the “Monument of love”. It was without doubt beautiful. Just looking at it from a distance your get the feel of grandeur. We went close clicked pictures and enjoyed the view thoroughly. Once inside, photography is prohibited. So all you get to do is memorize the intricate work on the marble walls. And when I say intricate, i mean it. The main room is dark with just one lamp lighting it. The rest is illuminated by the marble windows. It gives you a feel of sacredness. You automatically lower your voice in respect.
We left the Taj and had lunch at one of the many restaurants lining the border of the premises. The food was good if not exceptional. Later we went to the Agra Fort which is like a replica of the Red Fort in Delhi. It is also considered a world heritage by UNESCO. The royal court was beautiful. The mughal emperors used to sit on their thrones and pass judgement and conducted royal business there. The place takes to back to those era when India was under the Mughal rule. We went up a flight of stairs and reached the top of the backyard of the building. The lawns inside are beautiful and one yearns to just sit there and relax like those mughal queens and princesses used to do.
You can spot the Taj mahal at a distance from the Agra Fort with the Yamuna flowing languidly beside it. A beacon of beauty and grandeur while having an aura of mourning, that’s the Taj Mahal for you.
Lots of Love.