While Pepper’s mother is visiting we decided to make the trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. We hired a private car to get us from our Delhi hotel to our accommodation in Agra which took about 4 hours and cost 10,500 rupees. That wasn’t cheap, but it was comfortable and since Carol has been feeling sick for a few days we thought it best to keep the trip as comfortable and convenient as possible. On the way we had to stop for a while at a rest area on the beautiful private road that connects Delhi to Agra — apparently the people that sold their land to the developer for the road occasionally block the road and demand payment because they feel swindled. Now that there is a fancy road cutting through the farmland the property values have skyrocketed and the early sellers feel wronged. We saw a few cars with windshields that had clearly been hit with a number of rocks — victims of the disgruntled farmers. There are not access roads so the adjacent property owners want access to the road toll-free — though as someone that enjoyed a few hours of non-India highway traffic I can see why the owners are not moving very fast with that.
We checked into our hotel and casually made our way to dinner before we crashed for the night.
The next day (Easter Sunday) we headed to the hotel breakfast buffet and then met with the auto rickshaw driver that we coordinated with the night before. He shuttled us to the Taj Mahal ticket gate where all sorts of “helpful” people provided free advice. Autos can’t get close, use the free shuttle, my cycle rickshaw can get close, read the sign for prohibited items, free water with your paid ticket, get the shoe covers with your ticket, I will guide you for 250 rupees… I bought the tickets and we took the battery powered shuttle. Polluting vehicles have been restricted near the Taj Mahal for a few years. We got in the proper lines thanks to more helpful unsolicited advice – there are usually separate lines for men and women. We ended up having a few prohibited items in our bags — not the explosives or pets as my quick glance at the signs indicated — but a book. The guide book wasn’t a problem but Jordan’s novel was. And the playing cards were turned away too. Again, helpful people were conveniently waiting by the gate to stow these items outside of the site for “free” in their shop.
Once we had those nuisances behind us, we were into the Taj Mahal complex and eager to get a good view of the building. I recall actually saying “Oh, wow. It really is beautiful” when I first saw it in person. We walked around, took plenty of pictures, and went inside. Here are some photos that we shot.