The Taj Mahal, as they say, is the God’s gift to mankind, which is as white as a fairy and as beautiful as the mother nature.The Taj Mahal is actually a tomb that epitomizes the embodiment of love. There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who have seen the Taj Mahal and love it and those who have not seen the Taj and love it. I am one of those lucky people who has witnessed the eminence and the glory of this dauntless historical testament.
The Taj Mahal
I have known the Taj Mahal since I was 6 years old. It is one of the seven wonders of the world and represents the symbol of love in India. Being located around 1000 km away from my home, I had always dreamed of visiting The Taj Mahal. My dream became a reality at the age of 12 when I traveled to Agra with my parents and witnessed this glory from the past.
Taj Mahal means crown of palaces in the Persian language. It is an ivory white colored mausoleum in the Indian city of Agra, located on the bank of river Yamuna. The tomb is located in the center of the 17-hectare construction. It is designated as the World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Here are ten tips to follow for your Taj Mahal Trip:
1.Know The Taj Mahal history and about the monument
Shah Jahan (Left) and Mumtaz Mahal (Right)
Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emperor named Shah Jahan in 1653 in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The cost of building was humongous and is estimated to be equivalent to US$ 830 million in 2015.
Architecture and Design
Ustad Ahmed Lauri
It is mainly influenced by the Mughal and the Persian architecture and the usage of the white marble in its construction laid the foundation of the finest works in the Mughal histories.
Ustad Ahmed Lahauri was considered to be the chief architect of this grandeur.I would recommend that you closely observe the Taj Mahal during your visit because it looks beautiful from outside but it is much more adorable from inside.
Taj Mahal was constructed in the south side of the Agra city. The world’s best building materials were sourced from all over Asia. Marbles, Jasper, Jade and Turquoise were few of those. In totality, it took 22 years to complete entire construction with the huge manpower for construction and animals for the transportation.
The above map shows the 3-d view of the Taj Mahal, click on any arrow and then you can drag and view the surroundings.
Main Chamber of the Tomb
The main chamber of the tomb, has false graves of the king and the queen, but the actual graves are at the lower level. It has a marble dome surrounding the tomb. I have never seen any dome, as spectacular and splendid as this one to date in all my 10 years of journey as a monument traveler!
There are 4 minarets of 40 feet height which surrounds the tomb. The Minarets are well crafted pieces of symmetry.
Calligraphy on the Exterior
The exterior of the Taj Mahal is made by carvings and the stone inlays. There is a beautiful calligraphy on the exterior of the great gate which reads “O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you “.The king was so impressed by the calligrapher that he gifted him with the name of ‘Amanat khan’ means the ‘Dazzling Virtuosity’. There are also few chapters of the Quran written on the exterior walls. Make sure to ask your guide about Quran while you gaze through the exteriors of the Taj Mahal.
You will be amazed to know that the interior of the Taj Mahal has precious gemstone studded walls. It has flowers carved in the marble, archways, paintings, floor tiling and minutely crafted pieces of works such as a jali. The graves are less decorated as per the Muslim tradition and they are facing the holy place of Muslims called Mecca. Calligraphic inscriptions to praise Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are also on the grave.
Interior of The Taj Mahal
You can see the magnificent mughal gardens outside the Taj Mahal, which has the elevated pathways and flowerbeds.
The above map shows the 3-d view of the gardens, click on any arrow and then you can drag and view the surroundings.
2. Plan your India Trip
You can plan your holidays in winter because in India the temperature is just around 6-7 degrees between December and January. The trip to the Taj Mahal and the destinations around the city can be completed in 8 days. So, you can actually do away with the death cold winter of Canada for a week. I would, however, recommend that the best month to plan your trip is in the mid of November to enjoy the grand Diwali festival celebration in India, which is a one-time experience.
On the go tours, trip advisor and trip hobo are few of the trip planners to India. You can choose anyone of these, but I would recommend to plan your trip yourself to fully enjoy the trip. You can book your flight to New Dehli India online or with any travel agent in Canada. New Delhi is the capital of India and there are many places to visit there. Here is how should plan the days of your trip.
Trip starts from location A:International Airport, B:Hotel, C:Agra, D:Bharatpur, E:Abhaneri and then back to A or F:International Airport.
Day-1: Toronto to New Delhi
The flight takes 24 hrs to reach New Delhi. Once you reach New Delhi airport, then depending on the type of the hotel you had booked, you can get airport pickup. If you book the airport taxi, it will cost around 25-30 CAD. The cheapest option is to book the prepaid taxi at the taxi counter inside the airport.
Day-2: Rest and do away with Jet lag
There are super luxury to low economy hotels available in New Delhi. Based on your budget you can choose any one of these hotels.
Day-3: Sightseeing of the Old and New Delhi
Visit famous places in the city such as Humayun tomb, India Gate, National Gallery of Mordern Art and Raj Ghat. All these places can be covered within 3/4th of the day and you can spare rest of the day for shopping. The picture below shows the jewellery at The National Museum.
Source: National Museum
Day-4: Start early at 5:00 a.m. for Agra
Check out from the hotel. You can hire a taxi with the driver for rest of the trip. The easiest and the reliable source to hire a taxi is through the hotel where you are staying, which will give you flexibility to plan your trip. Taxis charge 80-100 CAD per day for the Toyota Innova. Innova is the most comfortable car in India. It will take around 2.5 hrs to reach the destination. Check in to your hotel at Agra.
Twenty CAD is the entry fee for the Taj Mahal and hiring the guide costs you around 10-15 CAD, so that it is easy for you to understand the history of Taj Mahal. You can spend the rest of the evening for the local travelling and shopping.
Day-5: Start at 8:00 am to Bharatpur and Abhaneri
Check out from the hotel and start the journey. You will reach Bharatpur in 45 minutes from Agra. Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site is located here, which is again an utter joy to visit.
Start at around 1:00 pm from here to reach Abhaneri, a small village situated around 1.5 hrs from Bharatpur. It has the steepest stepwell of the world known as Chand Baori, which has 3500 narrow steps. I would also insist you to go around this village to understand the local living conditions. Go back to Bharatpur and check in the Hotel.
The photo above shows the world’s steepest well named Chand Baori
Day -6: Back to Airport
Check out from the hotel and start your journey back to New Delhi. It takes around 3 hours to reach New Delhi. Directly go to the airport. Plan your stay at the airport as per the flight timings and board the flight from New-Delhi to Toronto.
3.Packing for the trip
Ensure you have sturdy bags and a backpack: 46 kgs is allowed for the travelling in flight. Make sure you buy the standard delsey, samsonite or equivalent for travelling. Also the backpack will increase the travelling flexibility.
Passport: Must be valid for at least next 6 months
Currency: At least convert $1000 into Indian currency and carry with you
Clothes: Take more shorts and T-Shirts to stay comfortable while travelling, also keep jeans and full sleeves clothes to protect yourself from insects and mosquitoes. You can carry your swimsuits for swimming at the hotel. Make sure you carry enough pairs of underwear and clothes because laundry is very costly at the hotels.
Universal Converters: Do not forget to carry the 230 volt universal converters for all the electronic devices, if possible carry the power bank in case of emergency.
Footwear: Carry at least one pair of sturdy shoes and a pair of sandals or slippers with you.
Personal Hygiene: Carry sunscreen lotion as it is costlier in india and you may also not get your desired product. Mosquito repellant is also recommended. Carry the deo sprays, hair and skin care products.
Digital Camera: Memories Memories Memories..! Carry a good quality digicam with you to take snaps of every moment in India. Also keep a diary in case you want to record the memories.
Locks: If you are staying at the economy hotel, then it is safe to carry your own good quality lock.
Medicines: Though medicines are cheaper in India, it is advisable to carry all your essential medicines prescribed by the doctor. Heat resistant probiotics everyday will help, but please get in touch with your doctor before taking any medicine
Hand sanitizing bottles: Best way to keep your hands clean
4.Stay at Cheap places
You can stay at the super luxury hotels in New Delhi such as The Lalit, Radission blue, Taj Palace, JW Mariott and many more which costs around 300-350 CAD per day. Living here would be an experience. But I would advise you to spend less on the hotel and more on the travelling and shopping, which will actually help you to experience true India. So you can choose the economy hotels such as The Park, East inn, Janpath or The Royal Castle ranging from 50-100 CAD per day.
Economy hotels in Jaipur are Jaipur Inn, Sikha and many more. Economy hotels in Bharatpur are Bharatpur Swaraj and Mahal khas palace, while you can stay in Mango hotel or Ajay international in Agra.
5.Try Local Indian Travel
It is a joy to travel in some local mode of transport in India. Coming from the western part of the world, you will not experience it again at your home.
Paddle Rickshaw: It is operated manually and two people can travel in it as shown in the image below.
Auto rickshaw: It is a motor driven transportation and three people can travel at a time. You can experience these at Day 3.
6.Delhi Street Food
Make sure that you do not have any allergies to oil or the highly spicy food before trying new dishes. Local food is very cheap. I would recommend the following dishes:
Parathas: Made of all purpose floor with stuffed potatoes
Chaat: Spicy to medium spicy
Butter Chicken: Famous Indian non-vegetarian dish. Make sure to ask for a medium spicy variant
Biryani: Favourite cuisine of the mughal emperors
Desserts: Sweet dishes such as Gulab jamun and Rasgulla will help to satisfy your taste buds
7.Do Delhi Shopping
Miniature of The Taj Mahal
You definitely should buy some cheap and traditional stuff from India. I would recommend a couple of markets in New Delhi which are as follows:
Dilli Haat: Looks like traditional village market, best place to buy Indian artifacts and handcrafts
Janpath and Tibetain market: you can buy some hippi clothings and brasswares
Paharganj: Textiles, imitation jewelry and books can be bought from here
Agra market: Do not forget to buy the miniature Taj Mahal
8. Meet Local People
Whenever you get the chance, please talk to the local guide, local shopkeepers, taxi drivers and try to know about their lives and families. This will help you to connect with local people and will help you to understand India better.
9. Learn few Hindi (local language) Words
I would also recommend that you learn a few local words in Hindi language such as:
- Hi: Namastey
- Good Morning: Suprabhaat
- How are you: Kaise ho
- What are you doing: Kya kar rahe ho
- Ok: achha
- Thank you: sukriyaa
- How much is this for: ye kitne mein diyaa
10.Do’s and Don’t
- Dress modestly if you are a female because Indians are conservative culturally
- Start early as traffic is unpredictable and you can be late
- Greet people with a smile; it makes them feel comfortable
- Cover yourself with travel insurance as you are all alone in a new country
- Bargain while buying because in India sellers quote a higher price expecting a bargain
- Remove footwear while visiting a religious place as having shoes on is not respectable
- Do not hug persons from the opposite sex unless offered as it may be disrespectful in India
- Do not put your feet on any God’s when taking photos as Indians consider them with respect
- Do not drink alcohol in public as it is an offense
- Do not hunt animals as it illegal to do so and you will be prosecuted.
- Do not comment on the religions in public as it may offend religious sentiments of many
- Do not take any unwanted help from the strangers for your personal safety
So whats stopping you now to explore the incredible Taj Mahal in India. And yes do not forget to share your experiances with me. Enjoy your trip!
If you have any other questions or query, please submit your questions or comments here.