Having explored Mumbai's sights already, I wanted something more interesting for the weekend. With some airline miles to splurge, an excursion out to Delhi for the 2 days was very possible. The flight time was short and there were plenty of flights between the cities to cater for any unfortunate cancellations so I could get back to the office Monday.
To make life easier, I booked a care-free day trip excursion to Agra with pickup from my hotel. The van picked me up bright and early for the long drive. While Agra is only about 200km from Delhi, the trip on local roads took over 4 hours, albeit scenic with small villages along the way, many exotic animals, and overloaded trucks. It was a tough day sitting in the van for most of it, so I would recommend a more luxurious option such as the train.
Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a tomb for his favourite wife who died from childbirth in 1631. Some 20,000 men worked on its construction for over 20 years.
The van dropped us off at the gate, and after a long walk through the serene and well-manicured grounds, excitement loomed. There were no big noisy crowds, touts, hawkers, and the like. This is a place where your mind can be at ease.
The site's entrances lead into the Chowk-i-Jilo Khana. A huge gateway building adorned with domes and floral design marks the entry to view the actual Taj Mahal.
A large set of gardens known as the charbagh offers a good setting for the massive mausoleum in the distance. The vast space also allows the many visitors to space out from each other for that exclusive photo without too many other photo bombers.
The square marble platform is decorated with a minaret at each corner. The imposing structure's marble is at risk from factory and vehicular pollution.
It would be interesting to view this beautiful monument from the other side of the river. But with your admission, there is no proper way to do so via official means.
Unfortunately, early September is still the tail end of the rainy season. The sun barely peeked out of the sky to shine against the spectacular white marble.