One of the places to visit on my checklist is INDIA. Aside from its rich culture and uniqueness, I was able to meet and build friendship to some of Indians from work, and during the cultural exchange when I represent the country in Project Better world back in 2010 for EARTHWATCH. My fascination to visit the country actually originated from actually a simple postcard of Taj Mahal. Its beauty excites me that I promise myself to pay a visit to historical mausoleum.
My trip to India was actually a surprise to me. I didn’t know that I’m going to India for a business trip since there were no news that the trip will push through. The main reason we go there is for a Net Asset review (Insert finance life here) and I am busy with preparing slides and presentation to discuss with the finance team.
Going forward to the trip, I was advised to prepare– only a day before my flight so you can imagine me on a PANIC MODE not only packing my things, but on in-depth research of Trip to Taj Mahal and all. The next thing I know, my boss and I were seating on our scheduled plane bound to Singapore for a connecting flight. The adrenaline rush is what keeps me going. And I didn’t have much information of what to do in visiting Taj because since the main reason of our trip was purely work, the chance of going to Agra is by 50-50.
It was indeed a busy weekday for us, including saturday where we have to go to work due to the limited time. So the only chance for me is Sunday. Before, I am planning to visit Taj Mahal all by myself so I can share interesting tips on trains, fares etc. But since it was fate that brought me there, I will just share you interesting tour I had, and will try to insert some interesting tips as possible.
I stayed in New Delhi. And New Delhi is way far from Agra. The most popular way of getting from Delhi to Agra is by train. It’s possible to visit the Taj Mahal in a day from Delhi if you catch the right trains. It will take you 2-3 hours to get there, and 2-3 hours to return. Me, I booked a trip through SURYA HOTELS TOUR since I didnt have much time to research. My tour includes a private car, all necessities, and a tour guide. This is the coupon from my Surya Tour Coordinator, including breakfast and buffet lunch and a seat to a private car for around 3-4 hours.
During that long road trip, I was able to sleep for an hour. On the road Ive been looking at the the signs from time to time. This was the sign I was looking for. The highway is way better than I expected. It was a smooth road trip.
When we arrived at Agra, my driver parked the car somewhere near the main road and my tour guide checked all the things inside my bag. He said he needs to see what’s on my bag If I want to bring it inside. Well for people who know me, I love big bags where everything is there. So I ended up leaving my bag on our private car. I took only my Samsung Galaxy S5, My DSLR, my wallet and my kid at heart.
From the main road to the entrance of Taj is quite long so I took a Tuktuk (pedal led tricycle). It only costs 30 rupees.
While on our way to the west gate, I saw this. There is a board there that will tell you what is not allowed inside.
My entrance fee is not yet included on my package. We fall in line to get ticket. For Tourist, it will cost you 750 Rupees. For Locals its way below 200. Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is the famous World Heritage site located in Agra. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal during 1631 – 1653. The Taj Mahal is synonymous to love and romance. The purity of the white marble, the exquisite ornamentation, precious gemstones used and its picturesque location, all make a visit to The Taj Mahal gain a place amongst the most sought-after tours in the world.
The monument is surrounded by awesome walls and there are actually a WEST, NORTH, EAST and SOUTH Gate.
While walking going inside (entering the wall on the photo above), my tour guide asks me to stop walking and stand on a certain point. Below is what I saw. A glimpse of beautiful Taj Mahal from afar.. My heart jumps.
And finally, what an awesome view.. there is a mix of emotion when I first laid my eyes on this beautiful monument. I felt like I am inside a post card waiving. I told myself, “this is really happening, hello Taj!”
My tour guide has been telling me, it is really impossible to take a solo shot of Taj Mahal with you alone because all of the people visiting wants the same angle. But having an exposure to media coverage and blogging events, I have learned one of the best tricks to make things happen, The CROWD CONTROL LOL.
So believe it or not, I asked these crazy excited people from my left and right to just move extra 2 meters away to make my solo of TAJ happen. And I did!
From afar, I thought the monument is near enough to make a few steps but I was wrong. It was around 500 meters more to finally reach her.
I finally reached half of the walk. I stood from here (photo above) and look back. The photo below is the gate where I took my solo photo. (haba!) Too far!
Then another half of the place walking towards Taj.
Finally I reached it. Here I am standing at the right tower. Really tall.
Also from this point, it is either you take off your shoes, or wear shoe covers.
At the side of Mausoleum, people properly fall in line to get to another elevated floor.
Really weird I didn’t have to fall in line because of this (photo below)
I rolled my head like Indians of this easy access. It felt like a business class kind of thing. So upon reaching the doors, there were signs that taking photos are not allowed. So I looked up instead and appreciate the wonderful designs of high quality marbles.
Inside Taj Mahal are replicas of coffin made of marble with authentic designs. You will see different flowers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and various nearby countries on the marbles. I wish I can take photos and share with you. It is indeed a wonderful experience to get inside the monument.
There were so many people on that sunday. Or maybe this is a regular crowd. Even locals are here. I thought Taj Mahal was just a normal place for them. I was wrong. The line from local visitors are equally long too.
After the long tour, we went to AGRA FORT and headed to our buffet lunch. It was indeed one of the best walk of my life, not to mention that 40+ degrees of temperature!
So I bought Taj Mahal with Me back here in Manila.
What an Amazing Experience! Thank you INDIA.