India Day 6 (15 Jun 11) – The Day the Lady Wept: Visiting Taj Mahal On a Rainy Day

Walking in the Rain to Taj Mahal

I originally wanted to wake up to see sunrise at Taj Mahal. However a notice at the hotel lift lobby the previous night stating that the Taj was close at sunrise timing due to some VVIP visit, I had to change my plan to visit it at around 9 am, the timing the VVIP visit was scheduled to end to avoid the crowd who will be strolling in after that. Since Taj Mahal seemed quite close by the hotel, I decided to walk there, partly to digest the breakfast. The walk to Taj Mahal took about 45 mins. As I was stepping out of the hotel, it started to drizzle. “Not too bad” I thought to myself, the drizzle really cools off the heatwave I have been experiencing the past few days. God must have heard my bitching about the heatwave and the hot weather. As I was walking, the rain turned into a downpour, I was totally soaked by the time I reached Taj Mahal entrance. Once at the entrance, well the touts are at work again, people trying to sell me umbrella, hmmm….. seemed like not much use to me since I am already totally soaked.  Entering Taj Mahal was not too bad, despite the snaking queue forming outside, with people queuing under the rain. I was told to proceed to an empty queue. So I did, I was in Taj Mahal grounds in no time. As it was still pouring, people are generally seeking shelter either near the entrance or the gate building before Taj Mahal. I marched through under the rain and headed straight towards the Taj. I am glad I did that as the crowd was significantly lesser. As I was walking towards Taj Mahal itself, I met these 2 ladies with a British accent and volunteered to help them take picture. They seemed to trust me more then the locals and was quick to agree to my offer. After taking the pictures, I headed towards Taj Mahal. I was at the platform where this wonder of the world rests for centuries. The platform was also made of white marble, walking up the platform was exhilarating as I was about to enter one of the Wonders of the World.

Local Transport
Ticketing office of Taj Mahal
There she is – The Taj Mahal
Entrance to Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal

A Testimony of Love – The Taj Mahal

I decided to take some pictures of the Taj Mahal before entering the mausoleum, the walls of Taj Mahal was also colourfully decorated with flowers which was made of red gems. On the walls of the Taj Mahal, be it carved or arranged with gems, the flower and plant theme was distinctive. The tall walls of the Taj Mahal has some Arabic inscription on it. Unlike the baby Taj, The minarets of the Taj Mahal is not part of the main building, but 4 lone standing towers at each of the extreme end of the white marble platform where Taj Mahal sits. I entered Taj Mahal after taking pictures of it and the surroundings. There wasn’t much of a queue at this point partly due to the rain, and I got inside in no time. Lying in the centre of Taj Mahal was the tomb of Arjumand Bann Begum, the favourite wife of Shah Jahan. To the left of this tomb was the tomb of Shah Jahan, whose tomb was one platform taller then his wife. It was said that people subsequently buried him there after his death owing to his devotion to his dead wife. The tombs was surrounded by a white marble fence, having only the side facing the main entrance open. People crowded at this opening to glimpse at the 2 tombs inside the Taj Mahal. The platform of the tombs and the lower half of the fence was also colourfully decorated with flower patterns. After looking at the tombs, I walked one round inside the Taj Mahal. Even the interior was also engraved with flower designs, seemed to suggest a continuity of life after death. I took one glimpse at the tombs before heading outside the Taj Mahal and take pictures of the exterior.

 

As Taj Mahal was built on the banks of Yamuna River, I went to the side that overlooks the river. The view was smoothing and magnificent. From this side, I can see Agra fort. As I was moving around taking more pictures and enjoying the view, some local kids asked me to take a picture of them. Soon there was a small group of children posing in front of my camera, they seemed to be very happy to be a subject of my camera and kept thanking me. After the children left, 2 locals asked to take picture with me. Feels like I was in Iran, where the Iranians are also very passionate in asking foreigners to take pictures with them. I roamed around Taj Mahal for another 10 minutes before heading out. On my way out, I realise there was a really good spot to take picture of the Taj Mahal at the centre platform. After snapping some pictures, the 2 British women approached me to ask me to help them take a picture. I told them to stand where the best spot is. After seeing the pictures, they were very happy and agreed that the spot I just recommended was indeed a very good spot for picture. They helped me take a couple of shot before bidding farewell.

Me drenched wet in Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal up close
Intrigue design on the Taj Mahal
Intrigue design on the Taj Mahal
Intrigue design on the Taj Mahal
There are a lot of flower patterns on the walls of the Taj Mahal
Intrigue design on the Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal up close
The patterns on the minarets
Taj Mahal up close
Taj Mahal from another angle
One of the water palaces on the sides of Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal
A museum in Taj Mahal Grounds

 

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal up close
Minaret of Taj Mahal
Me at Taj Mahal
Tomb of  Arjumand Bann Begum in the centre with tomb of Shah Jahan at the side
Design on the wall of Taj Mahal
View of Yamuna River from Taj Mahal
Yamuna River from Taj Mahal
Curious locals at the Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal

I headed towards the side from the center platform, where it says Taj Museum. The side buildings were used as water control gates back then, thus they were known as the water palaces. As the design of Taj Mahal was heavily influenced by the Quran, symmetry was an important factor and can be seen throughout the grounds of Taj Mahal. To enter the museum, visitors have to pay an additional 10 rupees, which I am not very keen to, thus I made my way out. At the gate to the Taj Mahal, I took some more pictures before leaving the premises towards the hotel. As I was partly dry, I rested at the hotel for about an hour. Seeing the weather was not that hot, I opted to visit Agra Fort before the sun appears from beyond the clouds to show its might again.

Entrance to Taj Mahal
Water Palace in Taj Mahal grounds
Taj Mahal grounds

Agra Fort – The Mother of All Forts

At the entrance of Agra Fort, I realise I forgot to bring the ticket for Taj Mahal, which can give me a 50 rupee discount to the site. Damn it, must have left it in the hotel. I decided to pay for the full price instead of going back to the hotel to get it. I left the counter after getting the ticket and start snapping picture of the entrance to the fort. As I was walking towards the entrance of the fort, I realise I forgot to take the change from the counter man after I have paid for them. The entrance to Agra fort is 500 rupees for me!! The price of being clumsy. Agra was known as the mother of all forts in India as Forts in India was replicated from this one. Agra fort was also the stronghold for the Mughals for several generations, and the entire fort was made with red sandstones. The towers, which was part of the gate, certainly displayed its might and the power of the Mughals back then. It was rather intimidating looking up at the main gate. Through the main gate was another gate that leads to the internal palace. Instead of going through it, I head towards this huge building on the right of the gate. This red building seemed to be some sort of living quarters, as its design is very similar to the Jodbhai Palace in Fatehpur Sikri. This building was linked to another building beside it, which looked like a library or more living quarters. I walked up to the window that looked outwards from this building. From here I can see Yamuna River and Taj Mahal. Next to the building was a white marble building, which was a mosque built for Shah Jahan during his imprisonment in Agra fort. The mosque was tucked in one tranquil corner of the fort and have only 1 entry point.

Exiting the mosque, I headed towards the area next to it, which is a rather large courtyard with a black marble on it. This is the throne for the king. this throne offers good view of Taj Mahal and Yamuna River. Beside the throne was a building seemed to used for entertaining guests. The view from this courtyard was not just beautiful, the breeze here was good too. I headed to the main audience hall after this throne. This hall is huge and looked like it can accommodate hundreds of people at one time. After snapping some pictures, I headed for the main gardens and noticed that there is this area that was cordoned off. Beyond those gates, there seemed to be more buildings that is perhaps worthy of viewing. I then head back out towards the entrance, asI thought this is pretty much it for this trip of Agra fort. I thought I had covered all those that was opened to the public. As I was heading out, I heard a guide explaining the Agra Fort layout to tourists. He mentioned that part of the fort was the property of the Indian Army. That explains the cordoned off area that I seen earlier on. I headed back to the hotel after I exited Agra Fort to pack up and get ready for my train ride to New Delhi.

Entrance to Agra Fort
Amar Singh Pol – Entrance to Agra Fort
Me at the Jahangiri Mahal
Me at Jahangiri Mahal
Inside Jahangiri Mahal
Agra Fort
Agra Fort
View of Taj Mahal from Agra Fort
Anguri Bagh
Shish Mahal
Khas Mahal
Diwan-i-Khas
Overlooking Taj Mahal afar
Inner Gardens in Agra Fort
Diwan-i-Khas
This is the site Shah Jahan spent his last days looking at Taj Mahal missing his dead queen
Diwan-i-Khas
Diwan-i-Am
Exterior of Agra Fort
Part of Jahangiri Mahal that lays in ruins
Part of Jahangiri Mahal that lays in ruins
Shah Mahal up close
Interior of Agra Fort
Inside Agra Fort
Delhi Gate
Inside Moti Masjid
Moti Masjid
Garden in Agra Fort
Agra Fort grounds
Agra Fort
One of the ruins in Agra Fort
Agra Fort
Agra Fort
Me in Agra Fort

Traveling To New Delhi

Well train was late as usual in India. But I welcome that lateness as I had always thought the train will depart at 8.55pm. I reached the train station at around 8.45pm, thinking that I have time. After checking the status board, the train was late by 30 minutes. I then looked at my ticket again, this time I realised my train was originally scheduled to leave at 8.30pm. Luckily it was late, if not I would have missed my train. On the train, there was food service pretty much like what one would experience on an airplane. The food was tasty, but in small portions. I arrived in Delhi about 1 hour later then scheduled and headed straight to the hotel where I booked a room with. I was pleasantly surprised with this hotel that I will be staying till I fly back home! This room has a living area, a small kitchenette and 2 TVs! How cool was that. As it was way pass midnight, I hit the bed after shower to rest for tomorrow.

Train Steward distributing food
Food onboard first class train ride

 

2 thoughts on “India Day 6 (15 Jun 11) – The Day the Lady Wept: Visiting Taj Mahal On a Rainy Day

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