3:30 AM was the unfortunate get up time required to prepare myself for what was a once in a life time trip; to see the sunrise at the Taj Mahal. My driver was punctual as usual and it was only a 20 minute drive to the ticket machine to by my entry in. It wasn’t cheap either, as the Taj has one of the most expensive entry prices out of all the monuments in India – something that doesn’t surprise me in the least! For foreigners, it will cost you around 750 rupees to get in. This price is obviously lower for BIMSTEC citizens and locals. On entering, they distribute plastic bag which you will need to cover your shoes as you walk up to the Taj Mahal.
On purchasing my ticket, I was told that cars weren’t allowed past this point so I had to continue by myself, taking a shared electric bus all the way to the western gate of the Taj Mahal. The queue of foreigners eagerly awaiting entrance was smaller than I predicted but I guess that’s the beauty of traveling during the monsoon season.
One thing I found quite bizarre about seeing the Taj Mahal for myself is that the building itself is so iconic that it looks exactly like the postcards and photos you see of it. When you visit a remote island of the coast of god knows where, and you post pictures on facebook under a location tag that sounds like a made up place under the caption: ‘photos that just don’t do the place justice?’ Well the Taj Mahal is so opposite to that feeling, in my experience especially. It definitely had that wonder-of-the-world factor and was stood there majestically, towering above you like every photo or story you’d ever heard. When you walk through the gates it just hits you with a wave of cultural significance.
I heard many people exclaim their appreciation out loud as they approached. I think I even said ‘wow’ under my breath without even realising it. This place was just the most beautiful places I’d ever experienced and certainly a very memorable spot for a lone traveler such as myself. However, it was the less populate, more remote places in Indian such Ranthambore that I’d never seen any photos of and therefore had no preconceptions of that hit me with their novelty more than anything. That said, the Taj is definitely one of those ‘tick me off your list’ places for any traveler going to India.