06.01 am – Woke up excited, monitoring the train’s movements as it got closer to the city of Agra where Taj Mahal is located.
06.26 am – Arrived in Agra Fort train station. As soon as we stepped out of the train station, we were approached randomly by a tuktuk driver, offering his services to fetch us to wherever that we wanted to go. As we didn’t have any pickup arrangements with our accommodation, we decided to just use his services.
His name was Ameen and I kid you not but he is one hell of a tuktuk driver. He guided us from all the scams, taught us how to avoid crowds in tourist places, brought us to authentic Indian restaurants, and knows when to go where for the best pictures (eg:the best time to go to Mehtab Bagh/Moonlight Gardens is during sunset).
This is Ameen the tuktuk driver’s contact. I highly recommend him to take you around. The thing I like most about him is his honesty. If I remember correctly, it cost me 600rp for a day’s tour. I couldn’t help but tip him generously for his outstanding services. 😉
07.30 am – Arrived in our accommodation in Agra where we stayed with Varun and his family. It was such an authentic experience!
As we arrived, we were given the spare room as ours was still occupied.
While waiting, we had scrambled eggs,
10.17 am – Met up with Ameen who was already waiting for us outside of Varun’s house. We sat in the tuktuk listening to his precious tips on what we should and should not do when we arrived in Taj Mahal.
15 minutes later, we departed.
10.53 am – Arrived at the shops outside of the south entrance to Taj Mahal.
Each admission ticket to Taj Mahal cost 750 rupees. An Indian need only to pay 20 rupees. What a world of difference!
Taj Mahal tickets.
Lucky for us, we had Ameen our tuktuk driver to tell us about collecting our water bottles and shoewrap. You have actually paid for it but they are hidden from view and will not be given to you unless you asked for it. Sneaky bastards. 😡
Also, upon the advice of Ameen, we took the guided audio tour, avoiding all the tourist guide scams that awaited us as we exited the ticket counter.
Security checks at the south entrance. One line for men, one line for women. Notice the contrast of the queue. 😯
The Great Gate or Darwaja, entrance to Taj Mahal.
As soon as passed through it, we were in awe. Taj Mahal was just so beautiful. You have to be here yourself to experience the feeling of seeing it in person. It’s no wonder the Taj Mahal is one of the 7 wonders of the world. I’m so grateful that I have now seen 2 wonders, the other being the Great Wall of China.
Vivian and I couldn’t help ourselves.
The red stone walled hallway leading to the restrooms.
The Great Gate/Darwaja from a distance. Just look at the throngs of tourists.
After that we proceeded to the hottest, most strategic location in Taj Mahal to take a picture. Everybody was crowding around and no one formed a line. It was so hard but we eventually muscled our way and had a few of our pictures taken. You have to be stern and persistent otherwise you’re not going to get your turn.
Princess Diana has done it.
Oprah Winfrey has done it.
Tom cruise has done it.
We have done it. Yay! 😎
After we were done, we went to other locations to take photos.
You can never take a picture of Taj Mahal without a person in your picture.
Squirrels runnign around the gardens.
This is one of our best pictures of the Taj Mahal.
We got closer.
No shoes are allowed into Taj Mahal
unless you have your shoecover with you.
A close up of myself.
I followed the rules although I saw many other people taking pictures, local tourists mostly. Sneaky bastards. 😡
The entrance into the mausoleum.
10 minutes later, we exited the back of Taj Mahal. The Yamuna river was in sight.
Marveling at the architecture of the Taj Mahal.
Gave the Taj Mahal a kiss.
Photographers shooting away at two traditionally dressed Indian adolescents.
View of Charbagh Gardens from Taj Mahal.
Jawab or Answer, the building that was built to look exactly like the mosque, gracing the left side of taj Mahal.
The mosque that looks identical on the right.
Taj Mahal from Jawab.
Before we left, we just couldn’t help ourselves but to take more photos of ourselves at the bench in front of Taj Mahal.
02.00 pm – Ended the self tour of Taj Mahal.
Found Ameen and had him brought us to an authentic Indian restaurant for lunch.
Ended up in Sri Balaji. I find that south Indian cuisine is pretty popular here in the North.
Checked out the menu and found it reasonably priced.
Had a thali.
Customer giving the thumbs up.