16.02.2015 – The day has come on which our wish to see the wold famous Taj Mahal should be fulfilled. Because of traffic our friend Gaurav could not pick us up at the hotel, he wanted us to get to know the real feeling of traveling by metro in Delhi. So we took a otocar to a close metro station, where we met Guarav. Unfortunately there were so many people and the metro was so damn crowded, so I could not take any pictures there. It was so hard to move and I was working on not getting squeezed by all the people.
After a 30 mins ride we finally reached Noida, the city in which Gaurav lives and we could meet his LEO friends who took us to Agra this day. After having tea we started the tour via the express highway in direction to Agra. The express highway was specially built for all the tourists heading to the Taj Mahal. It’s 3 lanes each direction, made of concrete and shortens the drive from around four to about 2 hours. The land is mainly flat and all the way green and full of forests. The region is famous for producing bricks. So we saw lots of this factories.
Because we were looking for a shop to buy some drinks, we had to leave the express highway and crossed some very lonely villages. This extended our ride but increased the experience-factor and the amount of things we could see. We also met pilgrims who went all the way down to Agra with their decorated spiritual sticks. Unfortunately I forgot the story behind that sticks. So if anyone knows, please tell me in the comments below!
After a looooong ride we finally arrived Agra. In the picture you can see Taj Mahal from it’s back side (left part of the image) with the dried river and the surrounding.
The most crazy part of our visit was the entry-policy they are following. Indians and foreigners were strictly separated. Okay, not only separated, foreigners also had to pay 35-times more entry fee than residents do. 20 against 700 Rupees. Also we were more or less forced by a stranger to use his professional service as tour-guide and – for sure – he does not want any money from us. We declined, but it took us 10 or even more minutes to get rid of this guy. Shocking, to be honest.
After a security check we finally could enter the Taj Mahal property. There was one large courtyard which gives first impressions of the majestic building(s).
Entering Taj Mahal Gardens via that main gate unveils all the beauty of that place. Here it was: Taj Mahal. There are absolutely no words for this beauty of a building. At least I don’t have words for it. It’s even bigger than I’ve expected it to be. The gardens around it are huge and the sunlight of the evening sun painted the Taj in a very nice light-orange-shade.
After only 1,5 hours being there we had to leave the place again, ~3hrs drive was ahead of us and we should get back to hotel not to late. It was a short but rememberable visit and it was absolutely worth it. Beside all the pushy people who try to sell all kinds of services and products to tourists, the separation of residents and tourists as well as the so far more expensive entry tickets (according to residents) it was really absolutely first class there. A place everyone should have seen at least once in a lifetime.
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On 400 pages I show community service of young people, whom I was able to accompany during self-organiced travels to 25 countries between 2014 and 2017.
I am designer, creative and photographer from Wels, Austria. I’ll visit 50 LEO clubs until 2017 and will publish a book about similarities and differences of volunteering around the world.