The Taj Mahal: A Shrine To Love

Another week and another adventure On The Road! This week Vince (G+, FB, Tw) pays homage to the world’s most over-the-top tombstone, aka the Taj Mahal.

I’ve probably known about the Taj Mahal since I was seven years old; it’s one of those iconic monuments whose form is burned into your world imagery at childhood. I never really considered actually seeing it, until I planned this trip to Asia. Of course, if I was going to India, I’d go to the Taj Mahal – you have to right?

The Taj Mahal: A Shrine To Love

Another week and another adventure On The Road! This week Vince (G+, FB, Tw) pays homage to the world’s most over-the-top tombstone, aka the Taj Mahal.

I’ve probably known about the Taj Mahal since I was seven years old; it’s one of those iconic monuments whose form is burned into your world imagery at childhood. I never really considered actually seeing it, until I planned this trip to Asia. Of course, if I was going to India, I’d go to the Taj Mahal – you have to right?

The great white hype

Yes, you have to.

My travel mates and I were actually more willing to skip the Taj than you might imagine. The draw of the classic “sightseeing” destination is not particularly strong for me, or my friends, for whatever reason. I don’t travel to “say I’ve been there” or show people pictures of myself in front of some monument (sorry, let me just dismount from my high-horse real quick). But seriously, the Taj Mahal is one of those works of genius that when you actually experience it in person you finally get it. You get why you’ve seen pictures of this place since you were a kid; you get why millions of people come here every year; you get why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and on the New Seven Wonders of the World list. I felt the same way when I saw Michelangelo’s David in Florence: Ah, okay, that’s incredibly beautiful (and makes me feel like a failure in life). But I get it now.

 

The Taj Mahal: A Shrine To Love

Another week and another adventure On The Road! This week Vince (G+, FB, Tw) pays homage to the world’s most over-the-top tombstone, aka the Taj Mahal.

I’ve probably known about the Taj Mahal since I was seven years old; it’s one of those iconic monuments whose form is burned into your world imagery at childhood. I never really considered actually seeing it, until I planned this trip to Asia. Of course, if I was going to India, I’d go to the Taj Mahal – you have to right?

The great white hype

Yes, you have to.

My travel mates and I were actually more willing to skip the Taj than you might imagine. The draw of the classic “sightseeing” destination is not particularly strong for me, or my friends, for whatever reason. I don’t travel to “say I’ve been there” or show people pictures of myself in front of some monument (sorry, let me just dismount from my high-horse real quick). But seriously, the Taj Mahal is one of those works of genius that when you actually experience it in person you finally get it. You get why you’ve seen pictures of this place since you were a kid; you get why millions of people come here every year; you get why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and on the New Seven Wonders of the World list. I felt the same way when I saw Michelangelo’s David in Florence: Ah, okay, that’s incredibly beautiful (and makes me feel like a failure in life). But I get it now.

Passing through the Great Gate

We took the 6am train to Agra from New Delhi, with a return ticket for later that evening. When we arrived in Agra (around 8am, although check the train timetables because some other trains take up to 4 hours), we negotiated a good rate with a tuk-tuk driver to get us the the Taj Mahal, but there are pre-paid taxis as well just outside the train station. Our driver was a really nice and helpful guy, so we ended up arranging a day-rate of about 400INR (under $8) to take us around the whole day and eventually back to the train station in the evening, which ended up being well worth it. You can get cheaper rides, but he was a stand-up guy and we didn’t mind paying to have him stick with us.

The ticket for the Taj Mahal is 750INR ($14), which is probably the most I spent on any one thing in the whole country! (Make sure you go to the legit ticket-counter, because, like New Delhi, Agra is teeming with hustlers). Entry to the grounds is easy, and within a few minutes you’re walking through the red sandstone outer walls of the compound, with the Taj still out of site. The Great Gate (Darwaza-i rauza) that leads to the gardens surrounding the Taj Mahal is impressive in itself, made of red sandstone with intricate marble work, imposing archways, and domed Chhatris on the top corners. Not a bad entry-way! For a second there I forgot what what we had gone there to see.

 

 

 

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