WE ended up staying at the Four Points Sheraton in Agra after a mix up in the hotel bookings made by our travel agent. It was a welcome upgrade that we were very much grateful for especially that we had a 5:30 a.m. call time to see the Taj Mahal the next day. The room was nice and the beds comfortable. We were ready for our big day ahead.
It was only a 10-minute drive to the Taj Mahal and we arrived along with many other tourists who wanted to see the Taj as the sun rose. The weather was nice and cool and the lines were starting to get long. We were probably one of the first hundred people in the line. Security was tight like in the airport. No metals, no food and drinks, no pointed stuff, and no electronic devices except your cellphones.
The main gate to the Taj Mahal grounds was already very grand and standing right in front of it adds to the anticipation and excitement to see a UNESCO World Heritage Site regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture.
As we walked through the dark gate, we could already see the Taj Mahal framed in such a beautiful arch. The thickening crowd was walking inch-by-inch taking pictures of the magnificent sight until alas, we stepped onto the brightness and finally see the Taj Mahal in all its glory.
It was indeed a sight to behold, an assault to one’s senses to be standing in front of an ivory white mausoleum. I just had to stand still amidst the busy crowd and took everything in: the history, the beauty, the love story.
The threatening clouds grew darker and in a matter of minutes it started to rain but it did not stop the tourists from taking pictures and walking towards the mausoleum. Along the way we encountered many beautiful sights and many interesting angles for pictures.
And while I was taking pictures, a local tourist who was with his friends approached me and gestured to his camera. I gladly obliged to take their picture but much to my surprise, they each wanted a picture with me! Do I look like one of their celebrities? Or do I look like one of their Gods? Did they think I was an Angel since I was in white? Or was I just utterly gorgeous that they wanted a souvenir picture of me? I would like to go with this idea!
After over an hour of selfies and picture taking, we finally make it to the mausoleum. No shoes allowed in there so we were asked to put on our disposable shoe covers made of gauze-like fabric and because of the rain, we had to move carefully around the marble floors.
We enter the mausoleum and it was dark, and cramped, and nothing really much to see. So we walk back outside and enjoy the nice, cool weather. The sun was about to come out after the rain and we had already spent almost three hours at the Taj Mahal.
We were already hungry and a delicious intercontinental buffet breakfast awaited us at the hotel. Much to our surprise there was bacon upon request at the hotel! After days of no-pork diet, we feasted on mounds of bacon and rice for breakfast. What a treat!
According to our guide, a longstanding myth holds that the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan who commissioned the construction of the Taj Mahal had so ordered the dismemberments and mutilations of the architects and artists involved in the design of the Taj Mahal so it can never be copied. However, no strong evidence proves this was true. True or not, nothing can compare to the beauty, charm, and energy of the Taj Mahal.
Thank you for the unforgettable experience.