Searching for the Taj

A trip of a lifetime….
A trip that will change your life…

These are things I heard when I said I was going to the Taj Mahal.

I always wanted to go to Agra, I was fascinated by the Taj. When I was a kid, I had a 3D-puzzle of the Taj Mahal that kept me busy for many nights figuring out how to get this completed.

So, it was about time I was making my way there at age 26.
We arrived in Delhi, made our way to Jaipur by train and continued onto Agra with another train that wasn’t even remotely as fascinating as the first one.

Upon arriving in Agra station, I immediately knew this wouldn’t be my city/village/town/dump. Yes I said DUMP. Agra isn’t pretty, its rather disgusting. There is not that much to see besides the Taj. We ‘checked’ in our ‘hotel’ that ‘totally (didn’t) look like the pictures. (Did you notice all the quotation marks?)
I had to adjust myself to not get overly frustrated by the over-hype-ness. Is that over a word?

Ok, people are rude in Agra, and it makes me rude (bad habit) Agra probably was a nice town before but now it’s completely messed up by tourism. I couldn’t help thinking I was one of them. People like me where here before and the destroyed the experience (Well, not exactly like me. Who travels to 10 countries in 20 days, am I right?)

After visiting the baby Taj and deciding not to go to Agra Fort (couldn’t beat Jaipur Fort anyway), we went to the park behind the Taj Mahal to witness the sunset. After all I have a big weakness for sunsets. Once there, I quickly noticed this very ideal riverbank that would allow for that 1 perfect shot. When walking there snapping photos, I was quickly yelled at because it was not allowed to go there. Ok, Im not a person to look for trouble and nicely walked back behind the wall. However, 30 minutes later, a large tour group was nicely walking on the riverbank with the police guards looking at them and keeping their mouth shut. #doublestandards anyone?
Anyway, the sun was setting and the moment was approaching and I became a happy traveller. Oh wait, the guards started yelling again (why always yelling?) telling everybody the park was closing in 5 minutes. Nope, this wasn’t the perfect sunset… or rather no sunset at all.

The next morning we are waiting early morning (before the sun comes up) at the gate trying not to get killed by a swarm of mosquitos. Trash collection anyone?

Storming passed the groups of tourists, we made our way to the left side of the Taj to catch the sunrise (they couldn’t take this one away!)

The Taj Mahal is impressive (there I said it). The whiteness, the level of details, the massive podium it sits on, the riverbank site,…
You could say the whole package is there, but this is were I have to disagree. What makes something a world wonder is not only the object, it is the object and its surrounding, the experience.

I remember walking the inca trail to see Machu Picchu at dawn, I remember cycling between the trees in the mud in between the temples of Angkor. I remember even walking up the mountain to get on the Great Wall Of China. I, however, will not (or rather want to quickly forget) the experience leading up to arriving at the foot of the Taj.
For a symbol of love, there is very little love to be felt visiting ‘love’

I am glad I finally saw the Taj Mahal, I am happy to witness this amazing feat. Yet, I probably won’t go there again.

What did you think visiting the Taj Mahal?