Tag Archives: taj mahal

A trip to Taj Mahal (and Red Fort) part ii

What? A trip to Taj Mahal, Agra.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Here’s the first part of this entry: 1. A Trip to Taj Mahal (Part I- Indian Railways)

waste in taj mahal

As soon as I got off the train, autowallahs and taxiwallahs surrounded me with their ‘attractive’ offers to take me to the Taj Mahal and around. Three hours of travel in the Taj Express (7-10 am) had made me hungry. Some of them waited for me as I ate at the railway station canteen. I settled with a taxiwallah for Rs. 400 for four hours that included a trip to Taj Mahal, then to Red Fort and around and back to the station.

At the Taj Mahal ticket counter, I was faced with two options. Stand in the queue meant for foreign tourists or go to the one meant for the Indians. Usually, in such places, queue for Indians is also for the nationals of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries. Ticket for this group is significantly cheaper (IRs. 20 as opposed to IRs. 650). Obviously I went to that line. At the entry gate this man asks me, looking at me from head to toe, where I was from. Nepal, of course, I replied knowing the consequences of my honest reply. Then you will have to take the Nepal ticket, he said. The IRs. 650 one. I came back to the ticket counter only to be yelled at by the man there. “Arre aap ke paas paisa jyada hey kya?” he asked. “Jaaiye, south gate main and tell him, if he asks, that you are from Darjeeling!” [Why do you want to pay more? Just go to the south gate.]

taj mahal

A Japanese tourist tries to bring the Taj Mahal between his palms..at least for the camera

I reluctantly went to the south gate where, as I had suspected, the man asked me where I was from. I am sure my outfit made me look like a gora bideshi. But in many cases, if I wear jeans and shirt I can easily pass off as an Indian. “Where are you from?” he asked. “Mein avi  Delhi se aaya hun yar” I replied. [I have just arrived from Delhi.] That wasn’t the complete truth but that was also not a lie either. I had indeed gone there from Delhi and had been living in the city for several months. He asked his supervisor who inspected me as well. Then came the node. I was inside.

INSIDE THE Taj Mahal complex, I wasn’t thrilled. Neither I was very excited on seeing the world famous monument of love. It’s just like the Humayun’s Tomb, I told myself. Just that this one is more beautiful, bright and, again, beautiful. It was very hot. I was sweating and dehydrated. I found a shade where, like many others, I stayed for half an hour reading the book Delhi: Adventures in a Mega City by Sam Miller. I did the same in Red Fort, a few kilometers away from the Taj Mahal, which I found more impressive though not all of its parts were open to the public.

taj mahal walking on fire

It was so hot that it felt like walking on fire

In the Taj Mahal complex, I observed people busy photographing the monument and themselves in the same frame. Tourists of all kinds crowded the place.  Continue reading

A Trip to Taj Mahal (Part I- Indian Railways)

A trip to Taj Mahal

What? A trip to Taj Mahal, Agra.
Saturday, June 13

How? I was lying on my back on the ground of Lodhi Garden Friday evening hoping to count a few dozens stars. Then this idea of going to Taj Mahal struck me. (Pics from last month at LG: One, Two, Three.) I had gone there with Satish. He started lecture about where can trains can take me in India. He also tried to convince me against driving to places like Mathura or Agra (as opposed to train journeys) arguing that I was still not “acclimatized” with Indian roads and traffic system. It was already 8 PM and was decided on that auspicious hour that we leave for Agra in less than 10 hours. I woke up even before the alarm clock that was set for 5 am performed its duty. I think that was the earliest in years. My usual wake up time is around 9 am while 7 am or 8 am are generally early hours for me to get out of bed. I woke up, took shower, put new clothes and was ready for the day. Then I called Satish only to hear from his mother that he has gone back to sleeping after he was woken up at 4 am. I was determined to make the trip happen. So I moved out of home, towards the nearby Nizamuddin railway station to catch a train to Tajmahal, Agra. The Taj Express was scheduled to leave the station at 7:15 am. Continue reading