Tag Archives: Agra

Framed Taj Mahal

It was getting bright out as my wife and I arrived at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

We started our trek to the famed historic site shortly before sunrise, from about a mile away. After we purchased our tickets, we paid the extra couple of dollars for a rickshaw ride to the entryway. The entry line was long and I remember thinking “This is the best time to be here?”

Turns out, it was.

Later in the day, as my wife and I went back to the banks of the Yamuna River to watch the sun set, we saw the line for the Taj Mahal seemingly went on for ever. I was really glad we spent a few hours in the morning with the smaller hoardes of people, because I’m sure going later in the day it would have been far more chaotic than I would have liked.

0312. (1916)

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Taj Mahal and Reflecting Pool

My wife and I arrived at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India shortly before sunrise, and were surprised by the large number of people already waiting in line to get in. We took our places in the separate men’s and women’s lines, and met inside the walls of the symbol of eternal love. From the time we arrived, to the time we left, the amount of tourists on the grounds seemed to exponatially grow.

By the time we return for sunset along the Yamuna River, the crowd had swelled to an incredible size. The line was terribly long and terribly slow moving. From our vantage point on the river, we could see people snake around back of the Taj Mahal and slowly make its way inside.

All of the guide books say “Get there early!” I guess I just didn’t realize how serious they were.

(1783) 0312.

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Touring the Taj Mahal

As mentioned in this space before, my wife and I woke up early to visit the Taj Mahal. We arrived before sunset and stood in (separate) line(s) before clearing security and heading to the world’s greatest monument to love. Touring the Taj, every guide book said arrive early and beat the crowds.

I was amazed at the amount of people in line to get in at sunrise, but was even more stunned at the amount of people in line later in the day. In late-afternoon, the line wrapped around the fringes of the building before winding its way for a peak inside.

The foreign tourists were allowed to wander directly in and take the “shortcut” into the Taj. The “Nationals” had to go through heavier security and take the “long way” in. I’m not sure of the reason why, but it was nice to see so many locals coming to Agra, India to tour the site none-the-less.

(1875) 0312.

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Ferried Across the Yamuna River

While in Agra, India my wife and I walked around back of the Taj Mahal to see what we could find. We knew the Yamuna River was back there and had heard it was a pretty view as the sun dipped low in the sky, but our hotel had also suggested it was also a great place to see the Taj Mahal without paying the entry fee.

After walking along a road running parallel to the world’s most well-known symbol of love, we arrive at the riverbank. About an hour before sunset, there were a few security guards roaming about, a handful of local men and my wife and I. In the river was a small boat ferrying customers back-and-forth across the river. On the other side of the river was a large beach with a few kids playing, but for the most part, quite empty. Every-now-and-then someone would walk up and stand along the water’s edge. This was the signal for the boatman to come and pick him up.

Watching the boatman glide across the river a few times perked our interest. I can’t recall the exact price, but I’m pretty sure it was 200 Rupees (less than $4) for the two of us to hitch and ride back and forth. We picked up a passenger on the far side and the three of us quietly rode back enjoying the stillness of the water while watching the hordes of tourists inside the Taj Mahal. As the sun started to set, a few more tourists came over to our area, but by and large we had the place to ourselves.

It’s experiences like that which really make me appreciate travel. We really didn’t know where we were going, but we had heard it was a pretty view from behind the Taj Mahal. The boat ride across was a nice perk and a pleasurable experience, but overall, just seeing and experiencing is what makes me keep on traveling.

(1952) 0312.

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Enjoying a Snack Overlooking the Taj Mahal

No trip to India is complete without a stop in Agra to see the Taj Mahal.

Before heading to bed for an early sunrise trip to the world’s most profound symbol of love, my wife and I stopped for a beer at a rooftop restaurant to grab a drink while watching the sun set over the rooftops of Agra, India.

The actual trip to the Taj Mahal didn’t impress me much. What did impress me was the way life functions every day around one of the world’s most famous structures, but with a “ho hum” type of attitude.

Just beyond the walls of the Taj Mahal are people living in squalor huts getting by on whatever they can; a few days ago I posted an entry about a gentlemen slowing rowing paying customers back-and-forth across the river; a young boy peddled next to my wife and I practicing his English before waving goodbye and peddling away (no, he didn’t try to sell us anything or encourage us to get a “free” map).

It’s interesting to me that, no matter how far away from home a person can get, that location is still “home” for somebody else. The guy dropping off beers at our table at the restaurant pictured above has one of the greatest “corner office views” in the world, and yet to him, its just a job.

(1742) 0312.

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Slowly Rowing Across the Yamuna River

In Agra, my wife and I stayed near the Taj Mahal and made every effort to see the symbol of love as much as we could (sunrise, sunset and at night under the full moon).

One of the days as the sun was getting low in the sky, we walked to the backside of the Taj Mahal to watch the sunset. While we were waiting, we watched as a man in a boat slowly took passengers across the river to the beach on the opposite side. He’d let some off, and new passengers would hop on. It took a bit of time, but no one was upset it took awhile, and he just quietly kept rowing.

For US$4 the man agreed to take the two of us across the river and back again. It was a peaceful ride and one of my favorite experiences from India.

Upon reaching the opposite side of the river, there was a child playing along the banks and a man waiting to hitch a ride across. He jumped in the boat, paid his money and stood at the bow while chatting with the man doing all the work at the stern.

It was a fantastic slice of local life in India and the view was spectacular as well.

Random fun fact: My favorite image taken in India was captured on this boat ride. It’s the first image in the India Gallery of the Taj Mahal reflecting in the water. 

(1991) 0312.

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