Monday, November 5, 2012

Taj Mahal

The Taj.....
The Taj ..... It is THE most beautiful piece of art I have ever seen.
There are no words to describe this awe-inspiring monument of love. Nothing, absolutely nothing, prepares you for the breathtaking splendour and grandeur of this place.
We took a road trip there last year to gape at this beautiful monument.
About the journey and a few travel tips:
Went from Delhi - Faridabad-Palwal-Mathura-Agra on NH 2 (national highway 2)
Distance : about 200 kms. Took us four hours - we stopped for a breakfast break - a 30 minute stop....the time now would have cut some more with the new Yamuna Expressway.
Stopped at an absolutely terrible joint called - Saagar Ratna, Vegetarian's paradise - bad food, dirty, smelly toilets!!!!
I wish someone had told us there were coffee and pizza places - Cafe Coffee Day and a Pizza Hut - just short of Mathura, in a mini-mall kind of place. Do stop there if you can. We did on our way back - good food, clean toilets, great coffee!
I won't even attempt to describe it....but there are a few notes and travel tips about my trip at the end of this post that might help you too..:)
The first view...
 A closer look......
...verses and passages from the Koran....
...entryway to the main tomb...
To enter the main complex which houses the tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan you need to remove your shoes/sandals. If visiting in summers be sure to carry a pair of thick socks with you as the marble can get hot while you wait in line for your turn.
...the mosque..
..along the periphery....
If you can, buy your tickets for the Taj at Sikandra (this is possible only if you are driving into Agra from New Delhi/ Mathura).
On reaching the Taj if you find the lines at the entry too long I have a suggestion. Normally you enter from the West gate, but if you start walking to the right of the main gate along the periphery wall and turn along the wall to the left, after about 200 mts or so you come to the south the crowds are lesser and entry easier...:)
 Travel tips:
-carry a pair of thick socks - you have to remove your shoes to visit the main structure. waiting in long lines means you are standing bare-feet on hot marble - sometimes for an hour. 
-don't get bullied by the touts acting as guides who will surround you - look for a government approved guide. 
-buy your combined tickets for Sikandra (see end of post) and Taj at Sikandra itself - this will save you time and long waits in the queue at the Taj.
 -if the lines at the entry to the Taj (this is the West gate) are too long go in from the South Gate - much faster.
-if you start early in the day you can do the whole circuit in a day Delhi - Agra (Sikandra and Taj) - Fatehpur Sikri -Delhi. 
There is the Red Fort of Agra to visit but we did not include that in our journey. 
NOTE: If you are travelling from New Delhi to Agra (via Mathura) you will  hit Sikandra on the suburbs of Agra. This is where the tomb of Akbar the Great is the details about Sikandra here......

Sikandra - Akbars Mousoleum....

Be sure to stop there - it is well worth the effort. No crowds, easier access to entry tickets. The main advantage is that you can buy the tickets for the Taj too from this place which will save a lot of time at the Taj where the lines tend to be longer.
Go visit the Taj once in your is worth it!!!!

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