THE TAJ MAHAL
Up early for Taj Mahal sunrise, this is pretty much the highlight of anyone’s trip to India and I was no different, it was all I could think of since booking the flights! Needless to say it didn’t disappoint. I made sure to get to the gates 30 minutes before it opened and I second in line. Pro tip if you have a bag expect it to get searched and waste valuable time allowing others to get in ahead of you. Fortunately the people in front had to go through this but i had the entire place to myself to begin with.
IT BEAT EVEN MY WILDEST EXPECTATIONS, IT WAS AS CLOSE TO PERFECTION THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN!
WHERE IS THE TAJ MAHAL?
All alone at the Taj Mahal
I was the first person through the gates and was immediately in awe but knew time was limited to get the perfect photo before the crowds jumped in front. So I asked a lady to take a photo and she may as well have turned my phone off. Then a man offered but I knew there would be a catch but I let him have his chance, after all I’d have liked a few more photos. In hindsight it was money well spent as he knew exactly what he was doing. He basically ran me to all the best spots for a photo, it was like military precision, if I was standing 2inches off he would get me to move.
The reason for the rush is that slowly the crowds come from the front gate and get in the way of the photo. He took me to the opposite side of the sun and got a few cracking photos of the sun in the background. He said that only presidents get this kind of view alone (that’s just them talking shite). Funny thing was I was happy to give him a 500rupee note which is a lot in India (£5) and he had to cheek to say ‘1 more?’. I think he would’ve asked for 1 more had I gave him 50,000.
DID YOU KNOW….?
- The Taj Mahal was built to honour The Emperor’s (Shah Jahan) 3rd and favourite wife Arjumand Banu Begum (Mumtaz Mahal).
- She died after complications during her 14th birth
- Construction began in 1632, 1 year after her death and last close to 2 decades
FORGETTING WHERE YOU ARE
Heading to the back wall of the Taj you can look out over the Yamuna River which is completely different story to what’s going on within the walls. I am not sure I have seen two adjacent pieces of land with a huge contract difference in class and wealth. The tide was out so all you could see a lot of the river bed and there were locals picking through the mud for anything at all.
They use this area to beg as they are aware of the huge numbers that visit the Taj and expect plenty of people to peer over the wall. It was a reminder that although the Taj is as close to perfection as you’ll get you are in essence sitting in a bubble.
DID YOU KNOW….?
- 22,000 people and 1,000 elephants were involved in the construction of the Taj Mahal
- 1 million tourists visit it each year
- It cost the equivalent of $100 in todays money
PEACE AND QUIET
After exploring every inch of the grounds I was still in shock of the beauty and felt the need to sit down. Its not often I need to sit down to take something in but the Taj was right up there!
I sat for about 30minutes just staring at the building, it was incredible and even when you are there it just doesn’t look real, it took me the 30minutes to convince myself it was! It was here I noticed something else, how quiet it was, agains a stark contrast to the chaos and hustle and bustle going on literally just outside the gates.
After the Taj we headed to Agra Fort, a place most people tend to miss out on as its overshadowed by the Taj Mahal. It was initially built as a military structure by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. The army stays here so we could only get to see 25% of it. Construction started in 1565
I thought tourists got hassled a lot in Thailand but it’s a different level here in India. There is every Tom Dick and Harry outside these places trying to sell you something or offer as a guide. They aren’t as stupid as you may imagine but the giveaway is that they think you are. If you tell them no straight away before they even open their mouth they straight up say ‘Sir I am not a tour guide’ and if you say I’m not paying for anything they say ‘no charge’.
There is actually nothing you can say that gets rid of them apart from ignoring them and walking on. Its difficult if you don’t want to appear ignorant but sometimes you just don’t have an option. I’ve also begun to pretend that I can only speak Dutch as that’s a nationality I could pass for and a language they won’t.
NEVER TRUST A SON
Funny thing is I took a guide as I did need a bit of info on the place and the guide seemed fair compared to others, I would be wasting my time walking around on my own. I always try and set the price before and make it abundantly clear they get it at the end they actually have the information or I end the tour after 2 minutes. Turns out the grandson (Shah Jahan – who built the Taj Mahal) of the king who built the fort turned it into a Palace and then his son (Aurangzeb) turned it into a prison for his father (Shah Jahan) for 8 years until his death.
Today was a good day and would have put a smile on anyone’s face. After having high enough expectations the Taj Mahal somehow still managed to exceed them. If you are into architecture in anyway and majorly OCD then you’ll be more than satisfied when you visit!
I’m heading to Jaipur later today via Fatehpur Sikri and if I thought I was getting hassled now then I was in for a rude awakening. Click here to read.
If you want to see more photos check out this article
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
This post is part of the India Series, click to explore
- Have you visited the Taj Mahal?
- Were you impressed?
- How highly would you rate it on all the things you have experienced?
Let me know in the comments below . . .