After having lunch, I used the ATM to withdraw cash before we visited the Taj. The driver dropped us off near the Taj and asked us to take a rickshaw for the rest of the way. It seems taxis are not allowed near the Taj because of the pollution that may spoil the beauty and splendour of the Taj. I was furious by then, and so did not believe him at all but got into the rickshaw, he chose for us. We had to pay the rickshaw-wallah twenty bucks for the round-trip. I felt terrible b’cos I was sure the taxi-wallah would take a cut from tht too.
As he took us slowly to the Taj, I thought we should be able to see it but it was completely hidden. He dropped us at one of the entrances which was quite huge. Before we walked in, we were asked to keep our bags and other valuables outside. The Arien had brought his laptop along and we were totally tense ’bout leaving it behind. But, the guy at the counter was nice and locked it up safely for us. We had an hour before the Taj closed its doors to its visitors and so naturally, we were in a rush. As we walked in, suddenly, the Taj appears and simultaneously surprises and amazes you.
As soon as we crossed the entrance, we were approached by a zillion photographers who offered to take our snap with the Taj for a small sum. Because we were so enamoured by the Taj, we shook our heads and pushed past them so we could get closer to the Taj. It looked magnificent, huge, and very white. To get a closer look, we had to climb a few stairs that were on the side, to reach the base. We were asked to remove our footwear and because there was a lot of water, most of the folks were wearing something that looked a lot like shower caps on their feet. We decided to walk barefoot. It was a beautiful experience. We took a zillion photographs. It was quite humid and not the perfect day for experiencing the Taj but the entire experience was so amazing tht we were wordless for a looong time.
We walked all-around while staring awe-struck and saw the yamuna river on the banks of which the Taj is built. We realized tht it would soon be time to leave and we were yet to get a snap of ourselves with the Taj. The Arien wanted the photographer to take snaps on his camera and also to take the same snap on our camera. This took a few minutes because the poor fellow did not understand wht the Arien wanted. Finally, he agreed. We took quite a few cute pictures in front of the Taj and somehow the photographer made it look like we were one of the few folks visiting the Taj.
The Arien, took pictures of a cute pair of birds, doves, I think, atop one of the trees in the garden of the Taj. I was surprised that he even had eyes for anything other than the Taj but then thts him 🙂 We walked out slowly, picked up the laptop and paid the guy sm extra money (for chai, he said) for doing his job, and got into the rickshaw (the rickshaw-wallah was waiting patiently for us).
The taxi-driver insisted on taking us to a government-owned shop where we could buy genuine stuff. (I was not too sure but the Arien asked me to be patient). Surprisingly, we found a quilt made from some bamboo material which was very nice and though it was expensive, we went ahead with the purchase. We decided to gift it to the senior Arien. By the time, we left the shop, we had very less time for the return Shatabdhi but we managed to make it. A fantastic day that began with a Shatabdhi to Agra and ended with a Shatabdhi to Delhi.