The first decision you must make is to ride a camel powered cart or tuk-tuk to the main gate. I'm not a fan of supporting animal tourism so we grabbed a tuk-tuk and off we went. This ride was probably about 2 kilometres or slightly more and it was raining- so it was well worth the 100 Rps. (approx $1.5 USD)
The Western Gate opens into a large courtyard where you can find the entrance to the Taj Mahal grounds. It is magnificent! Built of white marble and red sandstone it is well preserved as are the structures that make up the courtyard itself.
Although the entrance arch is stunning, it was the first view of the white marble palace, the Taj Mahal, that took my breath away. Pictures definitely do not do it justice and I was enjoying a rainy, chilly day but here are some pics!
The countryside is truly beautiful. Lots of green fields and open space. Completely different from Indian cities. In the fields were circular straw homes that reminded me a bit of Kenya. The rural workers obviously live very simply and although I have no real personal reference other than observation I would think it may be a slightly better life than the poorest of the poor you see living under the freeways and elsewhere in the cities. Neither have running water or toilets and the level of poverty is mind blowing. I didn't get to look into the eyes of a field worker but I hope they are not as frantic as the city's destitute.
Driving through Agra itself was an experience. It is a relatively small town, covered in dirt (mud the day I was there), with animals in the streets along with all other conceivable means of transportation, just missing each other by a hair with each passing. Here are a couple of photos. Without stopping it was hard to get good shots but maybe you can appreciate the experience a little. Although most of Asia has frenetic traffic, India's really takes the cake.
Chalk up another adventure! India is not for the faint of heart and will make your heart pound, not only while negotiating traffic in a vehicle, but when you get the chance to view the splendour of it's ancient treasures.
Stay tuned for our next adventure and please visit the rest of my website. While you are at it, drop over to Sailgirl Design on Facebook and give us a like. Thanks!!