The Taj Mahal tour was slated at 6 am, touted as sunrise tour but with an asterisk. You know all the "sunrise" is dependent on the weather of course. It turned out we did not see the sunrise but it didn't matter.
Jetlag caused me to be up most of the night, which was why both the hubs and I were up and ready way before the 6 am call. Jana our superb guide from the previous day (Sikandra and Agra Fort tours) was calling at quarter before 6 am. The tours here are never late.
As it turned out, we needed to get our tickets at the Tourism Office, which is a few blocks from our hotel and only a short walk. It was so pleasant to walk along the almost empty road, in cool early morning breeze with an herd of cow sharing the road.
A trolley from the Tourism Office took us to the Gate of Taj Mahal. I was dumbfounded to learn that the Taj Mahal is inside a complex. You see from the many many photos online of this famous landmark, I have never gather that there were other structures besides the Taj Mahal. Or I was totally clueless! I thought the Taj Mahal sits by its lonesome in a patch of land somewhere in the middle of Agra. How little do I know!
Agra still asleep
The East Gate
Inside the East Gate
That is why it was such a surprise to me when I had to line up in the women's line to get inside the complex. We entered via the East Gate. We went through a security check akin to what one goes thru at the airports. Except here they were particular about not bringing in gum. Yes, gum! The gums were captured by the vigilant guards.
The West Gate in the distance.
Arches and dome.
The Great Gate, the main entrance to the tomb.
There she is!
Taj Mahal is more than words can express. It is such an engineering and architectural wonder. The compound is simply fantastic. The Mughal architecture is simply to die for. There are four gates, signifying the four directions and each one is the exact copy of the other. Symmetry is one of the major detail in this type of architecture.
The gates alone are replete with many many wonderful detailing. I could not get enough at looking at all the splendid detail. The plan to come at 6 am was brilliant. One, the weather was still manageable. Two, the crowd was not as thick as it would be later in the day.
Taking a first look at the white marble that shines in the gloomy cover of the skies make one thank the heavens above for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I could not help but choke up a bit for this chance to glance at another wonder of the world. Who would have thought that I would be here today standing in front of the most romantic testament of love and devotion.
I understand that a post about Taj Mahal and the outlying buildings, not to mention the people watching photo opportunities, would require more than one entry. That is what I'm going to do. Gives me more time to get all the photos together.
........to be continued.