After our internship finished, Veena and I had different plans as to what to do for the 3 days we had until our flight back to the States. We decided to spend one day in Mumbai, and part our ways until we met up in Dubai for our layover. Since my flight flew out of Delhi, and I still haven’t visited the Taj Mahal, I decided to fly to Delhi from Mumbai, and then take a train to Agra.
I had about 2 hours between the flight arrival and train departure, so I decided to go to Humayun’s Tomb since it was only a quick auto ride away from the train station. Also, since my goal for going to Agra was to see the Taj Mahal, it made sense to see the Mughal architecture that preceded the designing of the famed Indian attraction.
This was taken from the backside of Humayun’s tomb, where it was significantly less crowded and cleaner looking due to there not being as many tourists.
After spending some time at the tomb, I tuk-tuked to H. Nizamuddin station, from which I got on the train to Agra Cantonment station. When I got on the train, a large family had been sitting at my original berth and car. The mother had asked me to switch seats with her seat since all of her other family members were there. She guided me to her old seat, while her husband carried the heavy suitcase (filled with 2.5 month’s worth of clothing, food, souvenirs, and various camera equipment!) to the seat. At the new seat, there were a group of elderly men, long-time friends traveling together. I decided to go into the upper berth and travel while laying down as to keep my and their privacy.
I booked a hotel near the south gate of the Taj Mahal, where the rooftop offered a beautiful view of the architecture! My hotel choice was 10/10 for the location and pricing. In fact, I had relied on the hotel’s views too much; I spent the rest of my evening on the rooftop, covered in mosquito repellent, just staring out into this horizon line and watching the sunset.
I had actually made a mistake in booking my train ticket. I arrived in Agra on Thursday at 6PM, planning to spend my Friday in Agra. Looking back, I should’ve arrived in Agra as soon as I could have from Mumbai and Delhi in order to see the Taj with its iconic garden and fountain. Unfortunately, I arrived too late on Thursday to see it in person, and the monument is closed on Fridays to the public… Definitely poor planning on my part.
But the North side of the Taj Mahal, opposite the Yamuna river, is open at all times, and I decided to go here around sunrise on Friday morning. The weather was moist from the previous night’s rainfall, and there was no one at Mehtab Bagh to see the Taj at the time I visited. Although the view I saw was not the iconic, fountain-and-garden scene of the Taj Mahal, I was still awestruck by this beautiful work of architecture.
This might sound crazy, but looking back, I don’t regret not going to see the Taj from its frontal (south) view because as I was searching through my photos again, I noticed that one of the smaller domes on the frontal side was getting cleaned and had the ugly grid covering it up!
When I visited the Charminar in Hyderabad, I was disappointed by the grids that covered it up. I feel like I would’ve also felt saddened if I saw the garden, the fountain, the base of the Taj Mahal, and then… the grid-covered dome. I’m actually very satisfied with the back-view of the Taj Mahal I got, with the lush greenery covering the bottom of the Taj Mahal, and the graceful, white building standing above the shrubs and trees. To me, it felt like the monument was elegantly rising from nature, contrasting the refined, carefully constructed work of art to an untamed, raw Earth.
Bottom line: Do I regret going to Agra on a Thursday evening with only Friday to spare? Maybe, but not that much after realizing the grid’s presence.