The Great White Taj

From what we’d heard, visiting Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, is about as enjoyable as taking a pleasure cruise through the ninth circle of hell.  But as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the “most beautiful building in the world,” and “a teardrop on the face of eternity,” the Taj at the very least engendered the “we’re in India, so we might as well go” reaction.  Brian and I saved the trip for when family visited, so when Jeni and Jen arrived, we mentally prepared to suffer through the experience just-to-say-we-went.  Now that we have been to Agra and seen the Taj for ourselves, here is some advice.  If you do find yourself in India and are debating over whether or not to bother with the trip to Agra…GO SEE THE TAJ.  It surpasses expectations.  It is truly breathtaking.

Arriving in the dreaded Agra in late afternoon, we each paid our 750 rupees for foreign tourist tickets (versus the 20 rupee Indian rate…not a slap in the face, rather a knock-out punch), hopped on an electric shuttle to the entrance five minutes away, waited in the security line, and finally strolled into the Taj compound.  I audibly gasped when I walked through the archway that gives a first glimpse of the marble Taj.

Elevated on its platform, the Taj is framed only by blue sky.  There are no distractions on the horizon, and the building seems to glow in warm afternoon light.  There were a fair number of tourists, but not so many to make the experience unpleasant (except when a crowd is jockeying for the best photo op and then you just have to laugh).  Though we spent barely three hours in Agra (before making a mad dash back to Delhi for a flight that was rescheduled for the following morning…travel in India requires flexibility and patience…), the Taj Mahal was worth the trip.

These Indian tourists opted to take pictures of us instead of the "world's most beautiful building." Why, thank you very much!

In the Taj, you can opt to wear a pair of shoe covers or go barefoot to protect the marble. We opted for barefoot. This guard took himself very seriously for a man wearing surgical booties over combat boots.