Agra

I saw the Taj! And it opened up my eyes, I saw the Taj.

Alright, so I know there’s a lot of hype about the Taj Mahal. And a lot of people think its overrated. But nonetheless, I still really wanted to see it for myself. And it was just as breath taking as I had hoped it would be. The day started off somewhat rough. Our driver was a grumpy man, who disagreed with us about mostly everything. Lydia and I didn’t feel so great with him so we ended up ditching him halfway, and caught a cheap train ride back instead. Word of advice: never use Bagmati Car Service if you’re looking to go around Delhi or Agra. They are unprofessional, and gave inaccurate info when we spoke to them (their 2 1/2 car ride was really 5.) Hands down the best way to go is to catch the 6am express train (there’s two, but one is called Taj Express) and get there around 8am. We would have booked that but we had very limited options by the time we were looking since we were so last minute about everything. These trains fill up quickly so the earlier you book, the better. The train we took back was about 3 hours, which was still fine even though it wasn’t an express. Also, my cousin recommends getting a tour guide from the station because they have official guides – there are many guides at the front entrance but they bother you a lot if you don’t have a guide, and some aren’t really tour guides and can give you false info. Also, Lydia had a hell of a time getting local rate tickets (local rate is 10 rupees vs. foreigner rate of 750) and she herself is an Indian resident! After that whole drama, we decided to dress me up more Indian, which included wearing a shawl, putting my hair up, trading bags with Lydia, and not saying a single word. Either it fooled the guards or they just didn’t care, but we got into the Taj with no problem. I know it can be frustrating having to pay such a higher cost, but if you aren’t Indian (and you can’t fool them) then you’ll have to suck it up. Heads up if you go!

Regardless of the ride over and the madness getting in, I really enjoyed seeing the Taj. It is so peaceful once you get into the garden area. We were there for 2 hours, but I could have easily been there for double that time and taken more photos. We loved capturing the reflection of the building in the water as well. The story itself is pretty sad too. I knew that he made the Taj for his wife, but I didn’t know that he was so sad when she died that he wanted to build a black Taj replica across the river. However, he was fighting with his sons over the funds for the Taj, and so they put him in prison at Agra Fort. The saddest part was that he could see the Taj from his window, and he died in jail. Sigh, how can family be so cruel. The place was super crowded so I’d love to go back when it’s quieter. So happy I can cross that off my Bucket List though of places to see!

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