The Taj Mahal

India’s number one sight and one of the most famous sights in the world is the Taj Mahal. It was fantastic seeing it across the rooftops and from the other side of the river but this morning we were actually going to see it from its most iconic position. Right in front with a perfect reflection in the long pond.

To do this we wanted to be first in line. Our first mistake was to believe our host at the guesthouse who confidently told us when and how we were to visit the Taj and as a consequence we were 30 mins late. We have noticed this trait in the Indian men, they seem full of confidence in telling us what and how to do things but more often than not have absolutely no idea what they are talking about!

Still never mind we joined the small queue and entered through the huge red gates. It was very impressive to walk through the entrance and see before us the Taj Mahal in all its glory. There were quite a few tourists but nowhere near the numbers we were expecting, everyone was trying to get the same photo and was very respectful in allowing each other time to take it. The only slight on the experience was that one of the four minarets was covered in scaffolding.

With the iconic photo taken we wandered through the gardens and approached closer. I have to say that the first view we got was awesome but as we approached we noticed the detail in the artwork and really appreciated the colossal size. It’s 55m high and 55m wide and the brilliant white marble makes it seem even bigger somehow.

We entered the mausoleum itself and while other mausoleums we have visited have been exquisite on the outside and plain inside the Taj was an exception. The Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal and his wife Mumtaz Mahal who it was built for are both lying within the mausoleum in the most amazing marble coffins. These are surrounded by intricate screens of decorated marble all made of one solid piece.

We walked around for a couple of hours gazing up at the brilliant white marble just taking it all in. It was really fantastic seeing such an iconic building and we almost had to pinch ourselves that we were actually there. It would have been brilliant to have been able to return at different points throughout the day to see the colour and shadows changing with the movement of the sun but it was a strictly one visit only ticket.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. We attempted to have a wander around but the area we were in was so touristy there wasn’t much to look at. Plus the fact that the tourist numbers were down meant that we were pestered even more than normal. As we were walking along arguing as to why we didn’t want to buy various things our driver from the day before pulled up. Fayad told us to jump in and he would drive us somewhere. Where we didn’t know.

We had a chat with him and he told us honestly that he got 60 rupees per person from each shop we visited whether we bought anything or not just as long as we spent a little time in each shop. We weren’t doing anything so agreed to visit a couple of marble shops for him. He took us for lunch where he got another kickback and took us back to our guesthouse.

A fellow traveller we had met at the Taj and told us he had managed to hire a boat and get some nice views of the Taj Mahal at sunset. We followed his directions down the side of the complex and soon came to the river where there was a small wooden boat sitting on the shore surrounded by rubbish. A short negotiation later and we were picking our way through the rubbish to get on the boat…thankfully we were both wearing our thongs!!

The stench was pretty powerful but our boat driver was really nice probably because he couldn’t believe people would pay him to go out in his boat in amongst this rubbish! The view in the reflection of the river was stunning though and we laughed as we sat there in amongst such filth gazing at something so beautiful. Such is India.

For the evening we went back to our restaurant from the night before. We had met another couple, Bruce and Denise, in Jaisalmer and had run into them again here so invited them too. Our host was fantastic again showing us how to make roti, naan, tandoori chicken and curries. Once again it was delicious food and was also really nice to sit in the relative quiet of the garden and relax. We took our host’s email so as to be able to contact him for help with cooking in the future! Looks like we will have to add a 40 gallon drum tandoori oven to our list of cooking devices we will be building!! T

Now that’s the shot!

The different light on the Taj Mahal show very different colours.

Wonderful curves and shapes.

We thought it looked great from afar but up close it was something else.

This writing actually gets gradually bigger further up the wall so the effect is that it all looks the same size.

The inlaid designs on the facade are beautiful.

The mosque standing to the side of the Taj Mahal.  A beautiful building in its own right but somewhat overshadowed.

A final glimpse on our way out.

Watch where you step!

Our guide on the river.

This beautiful view was our reward.

Unfortunately this is the reality. 

The Taj Mahal across the rooftops.

Fayad, our man in Agra.

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