If you’ve seen the Taj Mahal in Agra India with your own eyes, you’ll understand this post more than anyone else can. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Taj Mahal as being the most beautiful building in the world, but you really don’t grasp that concept until you are there, looking at it with your own eyes. The Taj is one of those bucket-list places that won’t let you down.
We left Varanasi and boarded our overnight train to Agra. The overnight train ride was better than we could have expected, and we fell in love with traveling by train.We got our first glimpse of the Taj from our auto rickshaw on the way to our hotel. It was spectacular. We ended up booking two nights at the Shanti Lodge after our Scottish friends recommended it to us. The main draw to this particular lodge was it’s amazing view of the Taj. We were not let down. We were able to order lunch on the roof top restaurant at our hotel with the most amazing view possible in Agra. The food was also very good, although a bit pricy (around $2.00-2.50 a meal). For most of our time in India, we opted to stay away from restaurants marketed towards Westerns, but with the amazing view, we thought it was worth it. Oh how we miss Indian food!!!We used the free wifi at the roof top restaurant to phone family and friends from back home. Some people think the Taj Mahal is a temple, when in fact it is not. It’s a tomb. An emperor built this immaculate structure for his deceased favorite wife who died after giving birth to her 14th child. He buried his wife’s body in the center of the dome, and after his death, his body was buried next to hers. We wanted to get the best experience of the Taj as we could, so we opted to see it at sunrise the following day. Our alarms rang at 4:30am, and as we started getting ready for the day, we became increasingly excited. This was the day we were going to explore the famous Taj Mahal, and mark off a place that had been on our bucket list for ages.
We headed out on foot to the West Gate, bought our tickets, and were in line at 5:15am (there was only one other person ahead of us in line). We received our tickets along with a bottle of water and a pair of socks. The socks were to wear inside the Taj, where shoes are not allowed. We were nearly the first people to enter the Taj Mahal, and thus got amazing photos without thousands of people behind us! I’ll let the pictures escort you through the rest. We did tour the inside of the Taj, but photography was not allowed. The Yamuna River runs along the backside of the Taj. By the time we were done touring the Taj Mahal, hundreds of tourists had flocked in behind us. After the Taj, we decided to take advantage of the still-cool morning air and headed off to see the Agra Fort. We bypassed the man offering camel rides and headed to the fort on foot.It was massive, but for some reason the beauty of the Taj lingered over us and the fort just didn’t come close to comparing with what we had seen earlier that morning. I’m sure we would have enjoyed it more had we gone prior to our Taj visit. This girl shyly walked up to me and asked for a picture. On the way back from the fort, we spotted a small vendor selling breakfast curry. Of course, we couldn’t resist our favorite $0.20 meal!Later on that day, we decided to head across the Yamuna River to view the Taj from another angle. We didn’t pay to go into the gardens located near the river, we simple walked around them to get the view we had come to see.All in all, we had a wonderful time in Agra, and with each new stop in India, we became increasingly excited about seeing more of this vast country! Stay tuned to hear about our time in Jaipur, and our time at Ranthambore National Park where we spotted a wild tiger!