On our second day in India, we travelled to Agra from Delhi on a daytrip very early in the morning. The sun wasn’t out yet. It was a five-hourish car ride arranged by our hotel as part of the package.
We saw the sunrise, stopped on a roadside eatery for our driver’s breakfast and stopped at McDonald’s later for me my and friend’s breakfast. We did not feel very adventurous trying Indian cuisine though our driver had us try his breakfast which was Indian pancake with onions, if I could remember it right. It was good, but we just didn’t want to take a chance.
Anyway, we reached the (also) chaotic city of Agra at 10-ish in the morning. It being a weekend, we were expecting a crowded mausoleum complex. And we were not wrong.
Taj Mahal has three gates – east, west and south. Tour groups tend to access through the west gate as the ticket office is just an easy walk from the parking lot. Independent/budget travelers usually access from the south gate due to its proximity to Taj Ganj which is the main area for budget accommodations. The east gate’s ticket office is a 1 kilometer walk, discouraging visitors from entering through this gate.
As soon as we reached the West Gate Parking of Taj Mahal, we were greeted by a parking lot that’s almost full, busy camel and tuktuk drivers touting their services, vendors of all sorts, throngs of Indian and foreign tourists alike wanting to experience the majesty of Taj.
Our driver accompanied us through the ticket office where we fell in line. He was teasing me that with my features, I could pass up for a local. He said there are Indians with Chinese features, possibly so as India shares border with China. If I dared pass up as a local and got away with it, I would have saved some rupees from the entrance fee.
After acquiring our entrance tickets, we again fell in line to enter the World Heritage Site and the 7th New Seven Wonders of the World.
Here are some photos I took of the Shah Jahan’s monument of love for his wife.
To give my visit to this iconic treasure a twist, I had a sari custom-made for me in Delhi the day prior. There are a lot of shops in Delhi who can do this for you, they even deliver to your hotel 🙂
Did I feel awkward or out of place? Certainly not. I know it looks weird for an woman of Asian features to be donning an Indian sari but the local women did not think so. They were amused and proud, I think. I got a few well-meaning stares but more smiles of “approval” for my gesture.
It was fun! I might try to do this (wearing a local costume) again next time 🙂