After two days of much needed rest, we hopped on a plane and headed for Delhi. I had sought out a highly rated private tour company to take us around the coveted Golden Triangle. As cliche as it sounds, I wasn't going to leave India without seeing the Taj Mahal. And our guide in Agra was fantastic! Originally we were to see the Taj at sunset and sunrise. On the day of arrival, the guide asked us if we wanted to swap days and sights. This time of year, the haze and fogginess can be unforgiving in the morning for touring and getting those famous pictures. So we scrapped the 6AM sunrise and decided to brave the crowds for the afternoon tour instead of doing it both days. Because you can't really expect to go to India and not be crowded. We are so glad our guide give us the option. The next day was too foggy and even from a distance you can only make out the outline of the Taj. Whew...
I love the story behind the making of the Taj Mahal: Shah Jahan was
the 5th Mughal Emperor who reigned from 1628 to 1658. He married his
second wife out of love. And when she died during childbirth of their
14th child, he was so grieve-stricken. It was this which inspired him
to build this structure in remembrance of her.
We went a little crazy (okay, I went a little crazy) capturing pictures of the Taj from all different angles and lighting.
The Taj Mahal from the other side of the Yamuna River
First sight of the Taj Mahal entering from the east gate
Now onto the beautiful details of the iconic marbled mausoleum. Pictures were not allowed on the inside. Our guide told me to save my picture taking for when we visit the Mausoleum of Etimad-ud-Daulah (aka baby Taj), because the details are more impressive than the Taj Mahal.
The next attraction to see in Agra, is the Agra Fort. 75% of this structure is still presently used by the military and closed off to the public. We got to see the 25% that tourists are able to visit.
When Shah Jahan was placed under house arrest by his son, his only request was that he'd have a view of the Taj Mahal, so that he can continue to grieve for his dead wife.
And lastly, we visited the Mausoleum of Etimad-ud-Daulah (aka jewel box or baby Taj) which was built before the Taj Mahal. I found that the interior and details to be much more impressive compared to the Taj Mahal.