THE TAJ MAHAL IS ONE OF THE PLACES THAT ONE SHOULD VISIT ONCE IN A LIFETIME. Its entrance ticket costs a whooping Rs 750 for foreigners (Rs 20 for Indians), but even an hour in it should worth all the money, time and effort. Inspiration to many, Taj Mahal is an architectural wonder that leaves people marveling at its beauty and envious about its romance.
The age old story of the Emperor Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal after the death of his favorite wife, Empress Mumtaz, is visible through Taj Mahal’s elaborate design and delicate marble work. Perfectly symmetric, it lies on the bank of the Yamuna river, and has a beautiful green lawn corridor at its front. Two symmetric buildings of red lie on its sides, giving great contrast for its pure gentle white. One of it is a mosque, which one can take a snapshot of the Taj Mahal from its inside.
Walking around the Taj Mahal is a staggering experience. You feel dwarfed by its enormity but bonded by its vulnerability. It is sturdy to the weather, yet reveals a weepy heart break story that most people can relate to. Crowds constantly swarm this monument, but fortunately, it is large enough to drown out all the noise and scattering. I can’t stop taking photos of it, but no matter how hard I tried, none of them can replace being in its presence.
Agra however, is not an attractive city if not for its Taj Mahal and nearby fort. Badly polluted and filled with touts, it is only second on my list of most difficult Indian cities (after Delhi). I skipped the fort just because I got fort-out too many times I can’t remember. My room was comfortable enough and the TV has Star World and Travel Living channels so I stayed most of my time chilling out with comedies and travel shows.
Photogenic view of the entrance gate from the Taj
It is truly amazing to stand under the marble arches of the Taj Mahal
When you have too much time to kill in the Taj Mahal, do what I do, sit in the mosque and observe if the Taj moves
ONE THING WORTH MENTIONING IS THE FOOD HERE AT TAJ GANJ, which is the nearest area filled with budget accommodations outside Taj Mahal. Joney’s spinach omelet and cheese tomato jayfelles are one of my best continental breakfasts I had in India. Yash cafe’s thali is not spicy and very affordable. Both are mentioned in the guidebook and deserved further recommendations from here.
Other than the bothersome touts that give you headaches, Agra is still the most worth visiting city in India. Don’t try traveling nearby and not give it a day. I won’t be coming back for seconds, but I’ll definitely remember this once in a lifetime experience.