Ik junoon ek diwangi …. Har taraf har taraf hai ……
I opened my eyes with the latest song from the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and turned the alarm off which I had set yesterday night for 5 AM. In an hour me and my family had embark on a road trip to Agra and witness the most beautiful marvel of the world, The Taj Mahal. Since I am vacationing in my hometown Jaipur; it’s fairly laid-back return drive to Agra in a day. We started at around 6:15 AM, the drive was around 4-5 hours one way and hence we also planned to cover Fatehpur Sikri,
Fatehpur Sikri is a city and a municipal board in Agra district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Built near the much older Sikri, the historical city of Fatehabad, as it was first named, was constructed by Mughal emperor Akbar beginning in 1570. It was built in honour of Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti, who lived in a cavern on the ridge at Sikri, and foretold the birth of his son, who was named Prince Salim after the saint. He later succeeded Akbar to the throne of the Mughal Empire, as Emperor Jahangir.
Via Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatehpur_Sikri
From Fatehpur Sikri, Taj Mahal is just 1 hr drive, we touched Fatehpur Sikri at around 10:30 in the morning. At the diversion to Fatehpur Sikri from the main highway, you will find several youth troubling everyone to hire them as a guide but you can shoo them off because you can find basic info about the things to do there in this blog but if you are concerned about complete historical facts then yes you can hire one of them and remember that not to pay them more then 250-300 inclusive of all plain expenses which contains,
# Government CNG bus service, 5/- per person
# Door keeper to guard your footwear, 5/- per person
We paid 250/- for 5 people. Fatehpur Sikri is a remarkable place to watch and learn history about. It also has Buland Darwaja which is considered to be the biggest of gateways in Asia.
After an hour of excursion it was time to carry on our trip towards Taj Mahal. The rest of the drive was just 35 kms but the route goes within the city so it takes much longer time then you anticipate. We arrived at around lunch time and scheduled to have lunch before visiting the Taj Mahal.
Tip No. 1 – Places in and around Taj Mahal are insanely expensive with no worth to offer, the food we ate would have cost us practically 200/- anywhere in India with the class of restaurant we were in but the hotelier charged us almost 800/-. So either go to a five star or to a hotel away from Taj Mahal or pack your own food.
Tip No. 2 – the west entrance gate of Taj Mahal is always busy with tourists because its where all restaurant and normal parking is presented. So if you want to beat the crowd then you might want to consider the gate on the other 2 sides.
Tip No. 3 – You will find bullock carts, camel carts and government operated electrical vehicles which will take you till Taj Mahal Entrance from the gate entry point. Please don’t waste your money on that because the travel distance is not even 200 metres.
You will need to buy the entrance ticket which is about 20/- to get inside Taj Mahal. And remember that food stuff is not allowed inside so don't get any.
It was our misfortune or ill fate because we managed to pick the most despicable day of all. We chose to go on Sunday which wasn’t a regular Sunday, it was Sunday just after the largest festival in India, Diwali. Hence the whole country was on break and apparently each one of them was inside Taj Mahal. There was a mile long queue for both to buy tickets and to enter inside.
Tip No. 4 – Here also a tourist guide is not compulsory until you are very much interested in Taj Mahal’s ancient information. And if you hire one then again don’t pay him more then 300-400/-
Tip No. 5 – There is a different higher valued ticket for 510/- too which will help you to beat the crowd but this ticket will help you only while getting into a special queue to get in Taj Mahal. This will also earn you a free ride on government operated electrical automobiles which I cited earlier.
We still hadn’t recognized the volume of people were there to see the Taj Mahal until we got inside and the only words to label the circumstance was “Utter Chaos”
Tip no. 6 – Try to avoid weekend to visit Taj Mahal, particularly weekends after a festival
But as soon as you see the greatest mystical prodigy of all you will overlook everything. Taj Mahal in pictures is nothing, you can appreciate the brilliance only when see it in front of you, it’s just mesmerizing. The structure is so colossal that you will be astonished for first few seconds and rest of the time you will just keep ogling at it’s striking splendour.
Because of the crowd it was evident that if we try to get inside Taj Mahal, it will straightforwardly take the almost 2 hrs, you don’t believe it!! Well the following pictures will help you to accept it,
But we decided that if we have come so far then we will go inside which regrettably resulted into a waste of time because when you are inside Taj Mahal then you cannot see Taj Mahal, which SUCKs. Moreover inside Taj Mahal is just a Tomb of Shah Jahan’s third wife Mumtaz Mahal.
You need to take out your shoes before entering into Taj Mahal. There are shoe lockers available so please make use of it. Lets try to keep it clean and spotless.
Tip No. 7 – If you don’t have time then avoid going inside Taj Mahal, even the background of Taj Mahal is also not so remarkable.
In the end I would say only one thing is that I have not seen anything more massive and yet the most stunning in my life yet and everyone must pay this amazing place a visit once in their lifetime. Even a glimpse of it is worth a treasure.