Sightseeing: The Taj Mahal (I)

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. My wish to see Taj Mahal became bigger and bigger every year, especially when I started studying architecture. Even then I wasn’t entirely sure that I’d get an opportunity to actually see it. But it all changed when I decided to do an internship in India. Of course, if I was going to India, I’d go to the Taj Mahal – you have to right?! Yes you have to.

We took the 7am train to Agra from New Delhi. When we arrived in Agra around 9am, we negotiated a good rate with a rickshaw driver to get us to the Taj Mahal. Seeing that the driver was a really nice and helpful guy, we ended up arranging a flat rate of about 200 INR per person with him to take us around for the whole day. He even agreed to bringing us back to the railway station at the end of the day. You can get cheaper rides than that but he was a stand-up guy and we didn’t mind paying him extra.

The ticket for the Taj Mahal is 1000 INR. 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 that leads to the gardens surrounding the Taj Mahal is impressive in itself, made of red sandstone with intricate marble work.

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Then we passed through the Great Gate archway which opens up into the gardens surrounding that mausoleum that we came here to see. The view of the Taj Mahal from the main entrance is one of extraordinary beauty, which demonstrates the limits of photography.

To be continued in second part.

Sofia Ali

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