Agra and the Taj Mahal
- The Taj Mahal is located roughly 4 hours outside of Delhi, in the neighboring touristy city of Agra. There is not much else to do in Agra besides visit the world wonder. While we compared several different options, we ended up hiring a driver for our three days in Delhi, in which (one of the days), we took a trip to and from Agra. The drive was not bad, save the terrible air pollution that persisted in every direction throughout the drive. Imagine a massive cloud of smog — miles and miles long — that just never went away. Anyways, the traffic leaving and coming into Delhi is quite bad but the overall drive went okay.
- Driving to Agra is only the first step in seeing the Taj. Once you get out of the car, you are immediately bombarded by salesmen and pseudo tour guides trying to get your money. It is not uncommon in India (or really across Asia) for salesmen to follow your group for dozens of minutes trying to get a sale. Just stick to what you know and keep your guard up :) Anyways, once you arrive, you walk about 30 mins to get to the front gate of the complex. You buy official tickets, importantly, directly next to the Taj (so you know you are not getting scammed).
- Luckily, when we arrived, it was not that crowded! (I think this is somewhat rare as I have heard horror stories of there being massive crowds). This was nothing compared to the massive lines (hours and hours) surrounding the golden temple in Tirupati.
- The Taj Mahal is an incredible pristine site. In my experience, it rivals the Great Wall of China and indeed surpasses Angkor Wat when it comes to “most beautiful man-made structures I have ever seen.” What is most stunning about the Taj, compared to other buildings, is just how glorious it shines against its empty backdrop. It is hard to put into words just how crisp and clear the site is…
- We spent about an hour and a half taking pictures and walking around the complex (which has several more mosques). Not unlike other famous sites, it does get old after a while. After all, it is just a building. I think, though, if you are going to Delhi (or Northern India more broadly), I would recommend taking a day out of your schedule to visit the Taj.