Our India Adventure travel blog

Family picture in front of the Taj Mahal


Looking back to the main gate from the platform level

On the platform level

Some of the inlay work in the marble

Reflection in Theo's eye

Our private pool

Enjoying the morning

It was an early morning wake up call this morning. We were scheduled to meet our driver at 5:45 a.m. to get to the Taj Mahal prior to opening (we were about 5 minutes drive away). I'm going to blame the fact that it was so early in the morning and my brain wasn't yet functioning for the fact that I headed to one of the most photogenic sights in the world without my Canon T7i! Left is sitting in the room, fully charged, lots of space on the SD card...and no place to go!!! Aaaarrrgggghhhhh!!!!! Thankfully, cell phone cameras have improved significantly over the years or I would really be heartbroken.

Once we were at the site our driver dropped us off where we then took an electric golf cart type shuttle closer to the site. We then went through security (women one line, men another line) and worked our way closer to the site. Finally, we were at the entrance gate and could see the Taj Mahal on the other side. What a difference from our previous trip to India...back then our driver drove us almost right up to the gate and we walked in after purchasing our ticket.

My main concern on seeing the Taj Mahal had been whether or not it was going to be covered with scaffolding or not. The Archeological Survey of India has been involved in a multi year cleaning program for the Taj as the white marble was getting brown and dirty from all the pollution. Over the years the Indian government has restricted industry in the area in an attempt to cut down pollution but it didn't undo the mess that had already been done...so, an extensive cleaning program where they have been placing special mud on the white marble of the Taj and cleaning it section by section. To date, just about the entire Taj Mahal has been cleaned except for the top white marble dome. Updates on when the government was planning on cleaning the dome are pretty much impossible to get so I wasn't sure if there was going to be scaffolding or not (didn't know for sure from the previous day since we couldn't see the front part of the Taj). Spoiler alert: NO SCAFFOLDING!!!


Going to the site early meant that the crowds hadn't yet arrived and the lighting for the site was amazing. As we approached the site we were harassed by a number of people who offered to provide us with their guide services, and then by hordes of site certified photographers to record our visit in every detail. We turned them all down...then as I was trying to get a picture I was helped by this skinny middle aged Indian man. He then offered to take a picture of our family, and suggested some spots. Normally I turn down these guys point blank but he wasn't at all pushy and was making some really good suggestions. Even knowing that I would be paying for his "help" at the end I decided to go with it as I figured it would be nice to get some family pictures at the Taj Mahal. By the end of the time at the Taj Mahal he had proven to be so helpful and provided us with so many great vantage points that we were happy to pay him. I think that the coolest suggestion that he had was to get a picture of the Taj Mahal reflected in our eyes. I just wish I could say that it was my idea...but it isn't!

They now charge an extra fee to actually walk through the Taj Mahal (previously this was included in the ticket price), so we shelled out another 800 rupees and wandered around and through the marble edifice in our blue hospital style booties (previously we took our sandals off and just walked on up).

After seeing everything that we wanted to see, we headed out the gate, taking one last look at the beautiful building. Still impressive after all these years.

Back to our hotel we told our driver to pick us up at noon as we decided to enjoy some of the amenities of our stay in this 5 star hotel (possibly 4 star...whatever, way more stars than other other hotels). Breakfast, then a swim in the rooftop pool was on the menu for the morning. For the better part of our time at the pool we were the only people at the pool and it was like having our own private pool!

With our noon departure time and with the continuing hot weather we decided to forgo seeing any Delhi sites, so it was straight to our hotel. One of the road signs that I found rather humorous was "WARNING Over speeding will invite prosecution". My immediate thought was just who decides when you are "over" speeding...apparently simply speeding isn't enough to get the prosecution invitation. Anyway, these are the things that amuse the mind as you roll down the highway. The road from Agra to Delhi is a major transportation artery so it was fairly quick to get close to Delhi but then the Delhi traffic slowed us down considerably and we were glad to just check in. With the check in we said good bye to our car and driver...well, for 15 panic stricken minutes anyway, until he returned to the hotel with my cell phone that I had left on my car seat. Sigh...today was just NOT my day! Scratch that...today was a GREAT day!!!

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