Friday, June 22, 2018

Spurred by a good hotel deal, this was just a day trip with family and with no pre-defined objective. We started around 10 on June 9, 2018 (Saturday) and drove in on the Yamuna expressway to reach Agra by 3 PM. This included the time for a pit stop at a restaurant around the Greater Noida area. The tolls amount to about 815 ₹ one side but given that this highway is one of the best in India and at least saves two hours of the travel time, it feels worth it.

We checked in at the courtyard and headed out to Taj right after lunch at a local restaurant which was perhaps the only flip side to the entire trip. The food was poor quality, priced high and the service was overall hopeless. We parked in on the eastern gate and were immediately approached by touts and guides offering to get us easy access to the battery operated buses and the tickets. I ended up paying 300 to one of these guys only to realize being scammed. Apart from getting us the tickets from the counter (and charging an extra forty bucks for that too), this guy did not spend more than 20 minutes with us, providing information that you probably can read off the various plaques around the Taj courtyard.

Travel Tip: Make sure you always carry an ID with you. Entry to Taj requires you to identify yourself by a valid government ID. Aadhar will serve best. Foreign tourists are expected to flash their passports.

Once inside, it felt hot, humid and sticky and the kids accompanying us soon lost interest and we ended up getting back to the hotel to soak ourselves in the pool for the rest of the evening. I was informed that a better time to visit the Taj is actually the mornings. The place opens up around 0530 in the summers and has fewer visitors then.

I woke up the next morning and drove in to the Western Gate (thanks to Google maps), parked in and walked right to the security post. The sky was beautiful and flanked with clouds. The trees and the grass looked fresher and greener, thanks to the rains the previous night and what would have otherwise been a disappointing trip became a good photography opportunity.

Most of the pictures that made to the final uploaded album were taken during that morning visit. Check the full album HERE.

For more travel stories previously posted on the blog, click HERE

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