12 p.m.: We were now on the smooth and wide Yamuna expressway and driving toward Agra to celebrate my birthday. To reach this part, we had to initially struggle through the congested and broken roads of Palwal. This is what google map shows; Gurgaon -> Agra via Palwal. This is supposedly the shortest route to Agra if you start from Gurgaon.
This is what you would often encounter. Mini-trucks laden with cows, who would stand precariously, somehow maintaining a fine balance. At least, I hope they do. Poor cows.
3 p.m.: Entering Agra wasn’t easy either. We had to wait for 2 hours on the outskirts of the city. That one can reach Agra in three hours through the expressway felt like a betrayal. The traffic was nasty and we were ridiculously tired. It was my birthday and I thought if we could see the Taj Mahal in the twilight. Soon it dawned on us that we are going to miss other monuments too.
Monuments usually close by 5 p.m. or so, depending on the sunset timings. And Taj Mahal remains closed on Fridays. Fortunately, it was Saturday. We could visit it if we reach on time.
5 p.m.: Finally, we reached Zostel– not a hotel, but a hostel that was pretty much at a walkable distance from Taj Mahal. I came upon this place after combing through a number of hotels/B&Bs on a travel portal, that looked decent and matched our budget. Our itinerary was clear – see Taj Mahal, other locales of significance, celebrate my birthday and return the next day.
9:30 a.m.: The next day.
Finally, we had the first glimpse of this magnificent beauty. The Taj Mahal!
It must have taken an enormous amount of patience, fortitude, composure, and persistence to build this structure and infuse love and life into it. Besides the perpetual crowd throughout the four seasons, I felt serene in the presence of this white marble mausoleum.
Winters are good for a visit. Once you enter the complex, you will find photographers persuading you to pose in front of the architecture and get some professional pictures clicked. And here, the professional photography includes the technique where you can be seen holding the Taj Mahal by its tip. We found a lot of people doing it – kids, aunts, uncles, couples. Haha, the attempt does look funny but aren’t they memorable for them?
The monument is flanked by buildings on either side; one is a rest house, the other is a mosque and then the Darwaza-i-rauza on the south, which serves as the main entrance.
Little and big onion-shaped domes amid the electric lines
1 p.m.: We had a quick meal at the Cafe Coffee Day, just outside the Taj Mahal. By this time, the photographer who promised to click good pictures handed over the hard copies. Ah, we weren’t disappointed. These are memories after all. Skipped monuments like Agra and Sikandra Fort. It was time for us to say goodbye to Taj Mahal and head back to Delhi.
#TajMahal #Agra #India