After returning from a trip to India back in April last year, i realised I had one more entry left on my Indian visa. So, with it being a dream of mine since a young age to see the place that looks like its been lifted from disney movie Aladdin (favourite), i felt it only appropriate to make use of that second visa and organise a mini vacay and see the palace known as the Taj Mahal with my own eyes, and it certaintly did not disappoint. One of those moments in life that leave you in silence, engulfed in your own thoughts just simply marvelling (gawping mouth open wide) at this stunning structure sparkling in the sunshine, (did i set the tone right here…) thinking how did i exactly get here?
THIS IS THE DEFINITION OF MAGIC.
For the romantics out there like me, in case you are unaware of how the Taj came to be, i shall give you a little background on its heart melting story of love. The tale goes like this; upon giving birth to her 14th child, the wife of the Emperor Shah Jahan tragically died. He then declared that he would never remarry, and would build her an everlasting resting place and memorial. A structure so spectacular that even agreements with the buildings artists were made to make one, and only one structure of the Taj Mahal statue, to deny any other attempt to rival this masterpiece. Taking 22 years to build with over 22,000 dedicated workers on the job, this is a declaration of love between two people like no other fairytale. It is what makes this place so beautiful, and adds soul to its magnificence. If it was not for love, we would be without this incredible new world wonder (oh how romance has changed since then..)
TIPS & TRICKS for your Taj experience;
It is always good to go with a tour guide, not only do they have fountains of knowledge, interesting facts, and endless tales to share with you but they can also provide to be great companions especially if you’re solo on your trip. As soon as I reached Agra, I was greeted by my tour guide with a kind face and big beaming smile welcoming me to “the City of Love”. It was such a beautiful experience. He was also a keen photographer in his spare time so for an added bonus of going with a tour guide they can also play THE BEST insta boyfriends ;) knowing the best spots to capture ‘that’ shot. Highly recommend the below tour operator who I went with;
If you have done your research you probably know to beat the crowds and head there before sunrise. I got there around 6.30am which is when the gates open. And the crowds were few. I didn’t have to endure the mass which I had read so much about so hopefully you can be as lucky also. It gets so hot throughout the day that it would be almost unbearable to go midday during the middle of the Indian summer. So try to pick your timing wisely.
I flew directly to Delhi, from Dubai with a direct flight from Emirates and was met by my driver (part of the tour package) at 4am. The drive should take around 4 hours but my guy was an absolute demon on the roads and we did it it just under 3…[real talk; actually fearing for my life several times, wondering what hell my mum and dad would think of me getting in to a car alone with someone I’ve just met in the pitch black darkness driving at an ungodly speed in the middle of chaotic India] but that’s all part of the adventure right? In fairness, we got there right on time, also stopping for a brew [indian chai speciality] en route and I had a little snooze along the way, oh plus a couple of outfit changes in the backseat whilst the driver was occupied on the road.
The Tour itself
Sunrise at the Taj Mahal and next to its gardens stands the 16th century built Red Fort of Agra, a UNESCO world heritage listed site [which seems to be overshadowed a little by the Taj however I definitely recommend visiting this grand historical monument]. In between the two spots there is plenty of time for traditional Indian lunch and after the tour is finished the guide takes you to the jewellery markets. Now if you’re anything like me, with zero will power and absolutely no self discipline when it comes to pretty shiny things and those with the gift of the gab; you will definitely be £200 shorter and one sapphire stone heavier upon your return 24 hours later…