Visit to the Taj Mahal

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February 12th 2018
Published: February 13th 2018
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Today was surely the highlight of highlights of sightseeing visits. What could possibly beat a visit to the Magnificent and Magical Taj Mahal.

Tickets were purchased at home, online to avoid long ticket queues, but actually we really didn't see any. Interesting to note that we, as foreigners, pay 1000 rupees entrance while it is just 40 rupees for Indians. Perfectly fair.

We wandered down the parade walk to the East Gate entrance. Was slightly dumbstruck when I was offered a wheelchair "for the 2 kilometres still to walk" (a Big untruth there, more like 1/4 km). I may be carrying my collapsible stick around but that is for use on the many stairs to be found here, some of which are often nastily and surprisingly deep. I Do Not need a wheelchair. Thanked the wheelchair bearer but No Ta and no doubt I would have ended up paying handsomely for the use of.

Lots of tourist stalls along the way and had to fight off the shopkeeper's demands to take a look with empty promises to look on the way back.

Security was easier than at the Red Fort with ticket barcodes scanned by man A, passed across without a glance by man B to Man C who punched a hole in them. Very labour intensive doing a digital scan of a digital ticket it seems. We declined at least a dozen offers to be our guide. It gets to the point when the only way to refuse is to be quite rude otherwise you find yourself being accompanied along the road for minutes at a time with the same spiel repeated over and over.

We were of course not alone at the Taj Mahal. There were lots of others there too but it wasn't frantically busy and everyone was good humoured. Several times we had to step round groups having their photos taken. It would be impossible to visit this place without being photographed with it in the background. So yes, I have a few of those too.

Didn't manage a photo from that famous bench as there were a few people just sitting on it admiring the sights, oblivious to everyone around who wanted to sit on it for a photo with the this so famous monument behind them.

We had to don shoe covers once we entered the sacred grounds round the shrine. Ours were blue and very fetching. The visit inside the shrine was brief and photoless. A 'guide' took us in hand to show us some special features of the two tombs inside the shrine but I realised what he was playing at and didn't hand over any money when he rubbed his fingers together in that meaningful and rather insidious way. Getting wise to that now.

Took lots, and lots, of photos from the front, sides and the back which looks out onto the river. Hard to describe quite how lovely this building is but when marble gets the light onto it and that marble has been carved and smoothed and decorated, it shimmers with a quite magical glow and yes the colours do change with the light. Absolutely superb.

Once we had feasted our eyes we went back into the central courtyard and then out via the South, rather than the East, Door. This led us through a street full of souvenir shopping opportunities and I did pop into a couple. Then round the back streets, not sure where we were until we came back out again at the East gate and retraced our steps up the parade to the hotel. Stopped for a stroll round the Nature Walk hoping to find some exotic wildlife but just found lots and lots of a brown bird which was so numerous it was almost impossible to spot anything else. Babblers I think.

We decided to find a market for the afternoon's entertainment and took a tuk-tuk to Sadar Bazaar. On the way we went through the real backstreets of what the tuk-tuk driver called his village. First impressions were of a medieval scene. More photos taken and everyone seems quite happy to be photographed.

The bazaar was not what we wanted at all, a local's shopping area, with individual shops out onto the street and not an enclosed space as I had expected as we have found in Thailand and Vietnam.

Then our Tuk-tuk ride descended into the usual confusion which always arises once you step into a tuk-tuk. We gave in and allowed ourselves to be transported up and around a few sales outlets, textiles, leather and finally a carpet shop as tuk-tuk driver said he would get a litre of fuel if we would just go in there. Actually very interesting with a demo of the knotting technique used and have to say, if we had been sure of the size we needed (and pretty sure it is square which was not on offer) we would have bought a carpet right there and then as we do need one for the living room and they were lovely and a very reasonable price. Apologised to the salesman and made our exit then off to the "Pinch of Spice", a really nice restaurant we had found on Trip Advisor for a great meal and our tuk-tuk picked us up afterwards and drove us back to the hotel.

That's Agra done and dusted. Off to the big city tomorrow.

Additional photos below
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18th February 2018
Taj Mahal

Amazing architecture
This is an amazing location and we loved our time there. Nice angle.
23rd July 2019
Excellent blog enjoyed reading it

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