With only less than a day in New Delhi, we decided to make the best out of it. And what can be better than visiting one of the wonders of the world.
We had two options. One, to rent a private car and two, take the train and figure it out. Since we always wanted to experience the local train, we took the latter option for the first train to Agra.
We woke up at 4am to take a uber to the nearest station for the first train, supposedly 6am but we could only get on to the one at 7.10am. There was another train at 8.10am that will get us there in 100 mins but then again we have to burn another 1hr at the train station. So, might as well not.
The situation at the train station was pretty erratic. And mostly male. So I guess, it would be wiser to dress more conservatively but I didn’t. And people there were pretty nice and friendly.
Our train tickets were only 160 rupees per person. Anyway, to get tickets, you have to go to the first floor for the information counter and get the train number and details then head to the ticketing counter to fill up a form to get your tickets. It is still pretty confusing to me so this is just a heads up, esp if you don’t speak good hindi.
This is us people watching for one hour.
Lassi for breakfast. I always eat a lot of yoghurt and probiotics when overseas to balance out the random things I eat.
And the train is finally here. We actually got to the exact carriage and exact seats we were assigned to and we sat there for 3-4 hours. But I guess you are free to move around and sit wherever you like once you know there is nobody sitting with you. Also, nobody checked out tickets. Nobody.
Also, drinking tea is very important.
Further notes. The train did not leave on time and the train didn’t get there within three hours. So, do give it some allowance if you plan to take the train. And also, there was no air-con. And it was very hot.
Okay, enough with the fascination of the train. The trains can be super crowded and packed like our typical MRT train with no place to stand and you can get pushed out of the train because there is no proper doors. And people randomly throw their luggage in and hop on while the train is moving. (Maybe to skip fares, idk) But I guess we were just lucky.
And after some good hassling for a ride at the train station, we got to the site itself. Okay, quick summary. Taj Mahal is the beautiful white marble tomb that Shah Jahan built to house the tomb of his beautiful wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Not sure why this is considered very romantic of the king to grief for his favourite wife like that. And there are other smaller tombs around that houses his other wives.
But anyway, it is still a marvellous structure. The tomb is made of white makrana marble and is decorated with the finest materials via the inlay technique, where they carve the exact shape of the material in the stone to put the material in. And also, other incised painting that requires a lot of effort too. It’s also decorated with passages from the Qu’ran and Persian poems.
This, btw is the optical illusion. As you walk nearer to this door, the Taj Mahal seems to be getting further away. Also, the doors are aligned with the perfect centre line. Shah is very into symmetry so everything is kinda with this.
There is also an Agra Fort which is quite significant too. Shah was under house arrest by his son in that very fort and was rumoured to die in a tower with the view of the Taj Mahal… Love.
Ok then we rushed back in an air conditioned car because of the limited train timings to fit our schedule. It is very important to stay hydrated and get an air conditioned car because… it is very hot.