May 13, 2013

Agra, India

Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India
आगरा, उत्तर प्रदेश, भारत

13 May 2013 (Mon)

Lodging: Hotel Kamal, South Gate, Tajganj

3 of 5, 14 days India trip

You might not have heard of Agra, what about Taj Mahal?

Hotel Kamal
9:45pm on the night before, we alighted at Agra from the train we boarded at New Delhi.

We're staying over at Hotel Kamal. They have WiFi and air cooler, but we changed room twice because we saw cockroaches in the bathrooms and the girls were really terrified.

It was one horrible night when I need to keep carrying my stuffs around and have a hard time settling down quietly. You might wanna have a second thought before booking the lodging there, but the hotel location is excellent - 5-minute walking distance from Taj Mahal.

The use of grate instead of cement is pretty scary, I wonder why...

Taj Mahal

Great Gate (Darwaza-i rauza)
Gateway to Taj Mahal
I used to think that Taj Mahal was in New Delhi and obviously I was wrong. It's not even in the same state (Delhi), it's in Agra, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

It's built by the Mughal Empire's 5th emperor Shah Janan (the emperor who constructed the Red Fort) in the 17th century for his 3rd wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died while giving birth to their 14th child. It's either in the past the emperors were freaking rich or the Persian architects were too free. LOL~~

Not only Taj Mahal is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it's one of the New7Wonders of the World! 不到長城非好漢 - You're not deemed a man until you get to the Great Wall (literally). Although I've not been to the Great Wall of China (which is also one of the seven wonders) when I was in China, but now in India, I've visited Taj Mahal, my 2nd visited wonder after Colloseum in Rome, Italy.

There's an entrance fee of ₹750 per person. All kinds of backpack or carry-on baggage must be stored in the storage cells prior to entering.
Walk through the gateway and you'll see the beautiful garden leading the pathways to Taj Mahal. It's truly stunning when I saw the exact same view as seen in documentaries, movies, pictures etc.

Shoe covers
Shoe covers are to be worn at all times when you're in the tomb made of white marbles. Most people took their shoes off and left them outside the tomb, where the two poor kids in the famous Hindi movie Slumdog Millionaire steal from.

I remember that in the movie when one of the kid, Jamal was asked how did the empress Mumtaz Mahal die, he anyhow answered, "A road traffic accident." However the tourist said that he thought she died during childbirth, and Jamal replied, "Exactly, Sir. She was on the way to the hospital." LOL~~ I wonder if there's a noun called hospital in the 17th century. Well, as mentioned in the top portion of this post, the tourist was right.

Yamuna, the river situated north of Taj Mahal (behind the tomb)

Jali screen surrounding the cenotaphs

Taj Mahal mosque

Taj Mahal (Eastern viewed)

Banana Lassi (Left) @ ₹50
Mango Lassi (Right) @ ₹50
On our way leaving Taj Mahal, my goodness, we're approached by bunch of souvenir sellers. They'll just keep pestering until you enter their shop and make purchase. There's even a super pushy kid who I think works for all the shops where he aggressively promoting the souvenirs and probably he earns commission from the owners. Feeling very annoyed, I wished we could quickly buy what we want or just leave the place.

We had lunch at a nearby restaurant, where we met a female tourist from China who was travelling alone. She probably started to talk to us when she realized we speaks Mandarin Chinese, "你們去了泰姬陵嗎?", she asked. Wilsen misheard that as Darjeeling, a town in another Indian state further away, but she meant Taj Mahal, although Darjeeling in Chinese (大吉嶺) sounds like 泰姬陵 but it's not as famous obviously. Well, we admire her courage of travelling in India by her own, wished her safe journey.

Tomato Soup @ ₹50, Curry Potato + Onion + Spinach @ ₹95

Masala Papad @ ₹35, Malai Kofta @ ₹100, Khandar Paneer @ ₹110, Dum Aloo @ ₹100

Shankara Vegis Restaurant, Dharmapuri, Tajganj

I was very contented, because of the famous Taj Mahal which I've seen with my own naked eyes.
In the evening, we took an overnight train to the next city - Amritsar.

Javin Tham A master's degree graduate in engineering, a musician at heart, loves playing with soft toys.

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