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Touching the Taj

I would have to choose the only cloudy day for a week to visit the Taj Mahal. I would and I did. Still, the cloud was of the broken variety – usually. The benefit of the cloudiness was that it kept the temperature down, so the day was quite pleasant.

I visited the internet place I’m visiting right now in the morning. I found out from a reply to my post on IndiaMike.com that I could very probably catch a train to Lucknow from the nearby town of Tundla, where two lines from Agra and Delhi converge, and get there by bus. That’s my plan for tomorrow.

Then I went to the Taj Mahal. I queued for little while at the East Gate – where my hotel is and where the lines are shortest and passed into the entrance courtyard of the complex. This area has four paths converging in the centre from four gates – north, south, east and west. The southern gate is the most impressive and is the entry point to the Taj Mahal itself and its gardens.

Once through this entrance gate and its attendant inward and outward flows of tourists, you see the Taj Mahal a few hundred yards distant straight in front of you. You take a photo or two. From here, instead of going straight ahead down the paths either side of a fountain studded ‘canal’ (the fountains aren’t much to look at), I turned left and found the displays showing India’s archaelogical and historical treasures.

At the end of this northern wall, I turned right and wandered down the west side of the gardens. Halfway down is the Taj Museum. Very small and with a smattering of artefacts and documents, it only costs 5 (6.25p) rupees to get in.

Further down the western wall you arrive at the plaza holding the Taj Mahal and two other buildings. At this point I found steps going up to the plaza and few people around at this side. So I went up. After a minute or two of wandering about this side of the platform I realised that everybody else was either not wearing shoes or had plastic coverings around them.

I went back down and along the front of the plaza and found the shelves for storing your footwear while you go up to the Taj. Also lots of people. I put my boots on shelf 101 on the eastern side and once again ascended.

Bracketing the Taj Mahal on this raised area are two identical buildings – the Taj Mosque, on the west, and the Jamat Khanah, apparently a guesthouse, on the east. At the back is and grand view of the River Yamuna and in the western distance, Agra Fort. Or at least there would be a grand view if the air wasn’t so bad and the weather relatively murky.

So I spent some time walking around here, and eventually climbed up the steps at the front to the actual Taj Mahal, which is on its own marble-faced platform. More wandering and photo-taking, and then time to go inside and see the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal – the wife of Shah Jahan, for whom this vast edifice was built.

There’s not really much to say about, despite it being one of the world’s greatest monuments – you walk round, take photos, go home. The fact that the weather wasn’t so good detracted a little from the experience, but not so much has having to put up with young Indian fuckwits laughing at me as we walked by each other. I’m sure I’m not just imagining that.

Tomorrow I have to somehow find my way to Lucknow. And then find somewhere to stay. I’ve e-mailed a couple of places, but neither have got back to me. I don’t know whether that’s because they can’t be bothered or the Lonely Planet book has the wrong details. On the other hand, I may be writing tomorrow’s posts from Agra once again.

Categories: Travel
  1. savasana
    23 December 2007 at 5:57 pm

    I’m sure you were just imagining it :-P! And even if you weren’t, it doesn’t matter. Don’t give fuckwits (that is entirely going into my vocabulary of favourite words!) the power of affecting you. It is entirely your choice and once you are conscious of that you have regained your power.

    Even if you don’t have much to say about the place the pictures you took of it are beautiful.

    And um…I’m kind of dominating your blog comments and for that I do apologize….I have trouble keeping me ole trap shut at times lol! Oh and uh…good “luck” getting to Lucknow :-P.

  2. 25 December 2007 at 10:39 am

    Please comment as much as you like – it really makes me feel better. I only wish other people would comment occasionally.

    ‘Fuckwit’ is a good word – I’m surprised you haven’t heard it before – maybe it’s more British English than I thought. I do try to ignore such people, and to have a kind of ‘Buddhist’ attitude towards it – but it’s impossible not to notice.

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