A Shrine Dedicated to Love – the Taj Mahal
I have always wanted to see the Taj Mahal ever since I heard about it in school. So when I had a chance to travel Asia, I knew my stop would be in New Dehli, to make my little dream come true and my friends were keen to see the iconic monument too. They felt that they had seen pictures of it since they were kids, knew that people come here every year, but it was not until they saw it for themselves they actually got it.
We took the train early in the morning to Agra from New Dehli. The train is cheap, and the system is not complicated, just remember to buy a return ticket!!.It took about two hours to get to Agra, and from there we haggled with a tuk-tuk driver to take us to the Taj Mahal.
You can get the prepaid taxis, but you may get a better price with a tuk-tuk. That day we paid about €6 to take us around for the whole and bring us back to the train station that evening.
The ticket for the Taj Mahal was (€12), This is most likely to be the most that I spent on any one thing the whole time I was in India. We were approached by street hustlers selling fake tickets to foreigners, but we bought ours at the legit counter. After getting our tickets and trying to calm the butterflies in my belly I was soon walking the red sandstone outer walls of the compound.
Then we came to the Great Gate (Darwaza-i rauza) that leads to the gardens surrounding the Taj Mahal which is so impressive. It was made of red sandstone with detailed marble work, imposing archways, and domed Chhatris on the top corners. I thought “What a way to make an entry”!!
Then we passed through the Great Gate archway which opens up into the gardens surrounding the mausoleum and there it was… The Taj Mahal. This was just a snapshot of what I had seen in photos all these years. It was about a ten-minute stroll from the gate to the Taj Mahal, and on the way, there were trees all in line, fountains and a reflecting pool running down the centre.
The Taj Mahal is a masterpiece. Shah Jahan built it in the mid 17th century as a mausoleum for his dead wife. The story behind it is so romantic; it is said that he was so depressed by the death of what was his third wife he wanted to build the most extravagant mausoleum in her memory. Kinda make you feel inspired but brings your moral down knowing no one will ever do this me!!
Finally, I arrived at my destination; it was so hard to take it all in. The building is made of white marble and has four minaret towers. Although inside is not so fancy, I couldn’t help having a greater appreciation for the landmark. Inside is an empty room serving as a mausoleum and it is surrounded by some peripheral chambers. Apart from the crowds, there is a huge sense of peace and tranquillity about the chamber. It's no wonder it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and on the New Seven Wonders of the World list
After spending some more time around the Persian inspired gardens, we headed back to our tuk-tuk driver. On the way to the train station, we booked an eight-day tour starting and finishing in the capital and taking in the Taj, plus other Agra sights, such as Agra Fort and the Tomb of Itimad-Ud-Daulah it was a trip of a lifetime for me.