Living in Delhi and having not visited the Taj at Agra, we decided to see this one of the seven world wonders in a rather unusual season, in the hot summers of June.
As the journey of even a thousand miles start from a single step, we took that single step on the morning of 12th June 2011. And if the destinations is like the city of Taj, Agra or Taj itself, our effort of waking up in the early hours in morning and seems to have been more than compensated. A visit to Taj was in our mind for a very long time but every time due to our hectic schedules we could not make to the monument of love and romance. As it is said, love conquers all, we too find the magic of love started doing its spell on us in the evening of a hot summer day. And we decided to leave Delhi to salute the eternal love story that found a symbol in the form of Taj Mahal. The monument is marbled and the love story is marvelous.
It was sharp 4:30 in the morning when we left our residence in Delhi to for a 3 hrs leisurely drive to this former Mughal city of Agra. When majority of Delhi was still asleep we were cutting corners to reach to this darling destinations, which is highly thronged by tourists from different part of India and world. After crossing so many signals- some green, some yellow and stopping at red ones, we were finally on NH-2, the road that connects Delhi to Agra. Driving in the early morning is an amazing experience in itself and if your friends are accompanying you the whole driving experience becomes all the more exhilarating. Once we went down the NH-2 there were number of cars, SUV’s and Volvo’s on the road all seems to be heading towards this monument that still transcends an air or romance. When we were planning a trip to Agra we mugged up all the details like its accessibility and means to reach there. Our expert advised us that a train takes 2 hrs, a bus 5 hrs and yes there are flights with very low frequency. Finally we decided to travel in our own car and the task become very simple as all four of us were good drivers. After 3 and ½ hrs of driving this magnificent, larger than life monument zoomed into horizon. And we all shouted in Chorus: wow! It is Taj!
In few minutes we were at the east gate of Taj: passionate, impatient and overwhelmed; ticket in hand and waiting for our entry into the campus of this grand edifice. While we were in the queue the tales of its regality and splendor were abuzz among the fellow visitors. And we too were speechless as the whole experience was beyond description. There were numerous tourists braving the hot summers. Most of them were on the same day trip to Agra from Delhi. With our entry into the grand edifice of Taj we made entry to the list of people who have visited Taj. Our entry into this emblem of Shahjahan’s poetry in Marble stirred a whirlwind of emotions. All of us felt like we should have visited this masterpiece earlier and we are lucky enough that we live in vicinity of this architectural magnum opus from Mughals that attracts hordes of admirers.
To know everything about Taj in totality we hired the services of a government-approved guide. Our guide had every minute detail about the Taj on his fingertips. He was fluently narrating the tales of constriction of Taj and various historical facts and myths attached to it. He also told us his version of how the idea of Taj was conceived. He informed us comprehensively about the artworks and inlays on this white marbles structure.
As we made entry into this magnificent building of mughal era we saw a host of photographer clicking images of the tourists with Taj Mahal in perspective. With tall claims of having shot the pictures of celebrities these lensmen were showing their dexterity in photography. They also asked us to have our pictures clicked and after repeated refusals we finally gave in. We got our photographs clicked and in no time we were given the hard copy of our photographs. One of our team members who aspire to be a professional photographer shot some picture with his own camera, which he has brought from Delhi. All these activities took a lot of time and we found ourselves hungry by afternoon.
After seeing the architectural masterpiece called Taj Mahal we landed in a restaurant to satiate our hungry belly. We gorged on same local delicacies at a not so upscale but a good restaurant. We enjoy the every nugget of food items served in our Thali. The staff at the restaurant was very courteous and ensured us a great dining experience. We also bought some famous Agra ka Petha as it high in the demand among our friends and families in Delhi.
The world might be pondering about the Taj but Taj is not the sole attraction in Agra. The other gem from the city of Agra is Agra fort. After having lunch we headed for a tour to Agra fort one of the UNESCO world Heritage sites. This fort made us reminiscent of the famous Red Fort in Delhi, albeit Agra fort is better preserved. Built by the Emperor Akbar this fort amazed us at first sight with its magnificence. Here to we visited the every part of the fort as per the guidance of our guide and got our photographs clicked. We also saw the river Yamuna from the ramparts of the fort and Taj Mahal glittering in all its glory. When we finished with the sightseeing of Agra fort we were eager to explore more and more attractions in the city of Agra and its outskirts but the clock was striking six indicating we have to drive back to Delhi if we have to reach there in time.
As we left the city of Agra on 6:30 in the evening we were of the opinion that we should have one more day on our disposal as we have left many of its tourist attractions unexplored. As we drove past the Mathura refinery we took a short break at a roadside tea stall for tea and there too, we enjoyed every sip of tea with memories of Taj. A deep feeling of nostalgia and our experiences at the Taj was matter of discussion during our return trip to Delhi. As our car was leaving behind the milestones and we are reaching close to Delhi with every spin of wheels we were unanimous that we would soon return to the city very soon. The Taj could be an inspiration for those who are facing dearth of love and commitment in their relationship.