Having lived in New Delhi for 6 years, I have been asked numerous times about the iconic Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Taj is a 3 hour drive from where I live and therefore my answer has always disappointed my friends from the other countries, it seems hard for them to believe that I still haven’t visited this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Well yes, there was this one time when I was young and my parents did take me and my sister to Agra, however Taj Mahal was closed that day!
So finally this year, I decided to visit the monument that never made it to my bucket list.
A little bit of history about this place, which you can find on Google as well but since you’re here, let me enlighten you 🙂
Shah Jahan, a Mughal emperor who reigned from 1628 to 1658, built the Taj for his beloved wife Arjumand Banu (commonly known as Mumtaz Mahal) who died in the year 1631 while giving birth to her fourteenth child. This is not a typing error, you read that right – fourteenth child..! Shah Jahan planned the design and construction of a suitable mausoleum and funerary garden in Agra for her and after almost 22 years, the Taj Mahal was finally built. Talk about setting the bar for lovers! Upon Shah Jahan’s death, he was buried in the mausoleum next to his love Mumtaz.
I reached Agra at noon and set out to explore this famous beauty. There were a number of people here and there in Agra selling tickets to enter Taj Mahal, but it’s wise not to buy them from just anybody! I bought mine at the government ticket counter at the entrance gate. You can also buy the ticket online at asi.payumoney.com. Entry fee is different for Indians, foreign tourists and citizens of SAARC countries. Shoes are not allowed inside the monument, therefore please buy shoe covers from the ticket counter itself. Entering bare feet is not such a great idea, since the mausoleum is made of marble and tends to get really hot when the sun is out.
You can also hire an expert licensed tour guide who will narrate the history of the Taj and answer any questions you may have. I didn’t need one since I had already learnt so much about it, thanks to the History lessons in school and the internet 😊
You can choose to enter the Taj from any of the three gates – The Southern Gate, The Eastern Gate or The Western Gate. I chose the Southern Gate, looking at the picture, you’ll know why 😊
There are separate queues at the entrance for men and women and then a sub queue that separates Indian nationals from the others. For the love of convenience 😊
The first sight of the Taj left me spellbound. I’d seen so many pictures of it over the years but being there is something else!
One of the minaret was undergoing restoration, but the monument still looked so beautiful!
Now, the Taj can be very moody and change its colors from dawn to dusk. While it looks the most captivating during the wee hours of the morning, it dazzles as the first ray of the Sun falls on it and continues to shine elegantly throughout the day. It only becomes more romantic when the moonlight reveals the beauty of Taj.
You’ll see a lot of foreigners dressed in Indian attire and taking pictures here, which is a great way to blend in and feel the culture, also where else can you wear a saree and not look out of place?? 😊
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Tourists love posing and taking pictures with the Taj. Here are a few of my favorites 😊
Standing at the Taj, the Southern gate is right in the center.
Because I had traveled to Agra only to see the Taj, I planned to come again next morning to view it in a different light and it left me speechless again!
The twilight gilds it with pink color and the monument blooms in all its glory. This also proves to be a good time to ditch the crowd which gives you enough time to sit around and just watch the Taj. I stayed here till the first rays of the Sun kissed the Taj Mahal making it look impeccable.
I wondered why I didn’t come here before, and then I knew, there is time and reason for everything 🙂
Have you visited the Taj Mahal or any of other Seven Wonders of the World? Do let me know about your experiences.
Thanks for stopping by