A Taj experience like never before

Travel tales

I was in Agra in July for an official trip. I had completed my work by noon and had an entire afternoon to myself as my train for Delhi was at night. So, I decided to visit the Taj Mahal, for the very first time.

 I took an auto and reached Taj Mahal’s outer East gate. When I crossed the gate, I saw a few battery-operated rickshaws. A young fellow, barely 16 or 17 year old, asked me to take his rickshaw. “Bhaiyya, sirf 20 rupaiye mein aapko gate tak chod denge. Aap itni dhoop mein paidal naa jaao, bahut door padega.” I bargained and was given Rs. 10 off for what he projected as “long” route. When I sat in the rickshaw, a 10-year-old boy tried to sell me cotton socks saying that one can’t enter the mausoleum with shoes and hence I should buy them. But I ignored him.

 I got down the rickshaw and progressed towards the “Taj of India”. I bought the tickets after standing in a queue for 20 minutes under harsh sun.  With the hope that the ordeal was over, I stood in the entry queue for good 35 minutes till I was informed that I can’t take my bag inside. It had to be submitted at a red-coloured building just behind the ticket counter. I jumped over the railings and ran towards the ticket counter. I found out that it was a bit far off from the ticket counter. I reached the building, kept my bag there, took the bill and ran again. I tried to enter the line from exactly where I had left, but all in vain. The guards didn’t allow. I thought to myself, “Do I have to start from the beginning?” I went to a police officer and narrated entire story to him. After five minutes of discussion, he let me enter through security checking gate.

 By that time I was quite thirsty, but the mesmerising sight of the white building in front of my eyes made me forget everything. So I got busy with my phone’s camera and started clicking pictures and selfies.  After spending quite a considerable time on the cobbled pathways and the garden, I decided to enter the mausoleum. When I tried entering the main structure, the police officer asked me to wear my foot covers. It was then I realised my mistake of ignoring the street vendor who had tried selling me one, so I started looking around and was genuinely happy to find a man selling these socks. However, the only unfortunate thing was that he was selling the old ones at the price of a brand new cover! I had no other option, so I bought them.

After spending quality time inside, it was refreshing to get some fresh air on the banks of Yamuna. The thirst, I had delightfully forgotten, had come back. So while roaming around, I first quenched my thirst and then headed towards the Taj Mahal Museum that houses a great collection of Mughal art.

It was 5.30 in the evening and I was exhausted because of prolonged walking. Then I quickly indulged in shopping and purchased delicious petha from the famous Panchhi Petha. I was quite eager to visit the Agra Fort but that wasn’t possible this time since I had to leave for Delhi. I will surely visit it next time to revisit history.

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