Visiting the Taj Mahal has been a dream of mine for a long time, probably since I’ve known of its existence. Last year, when planning to come to India, I only allowed myself two weeks in Bangalore and no time for the Taj Mahal. This time, I gave myself a few available days, and even though I had no real plans, I hoped that I could make it happen. Fortunately, two of the girls from yoga teacher training decided to join me on their way to Goa, so we decided to spend two nights in Agra.
Aside from the historical sites, there isn’t much else to the city. It’s busy and full of vendors with Taj Mahal souvenirs, which at times can make it a bit overwhelming. After ten hours in a cab from Rishikesh and a quick rickshaw ride, we arrived at our accommodations, which while close to the Taj Mahal, was nothing to rave about. Even with the monkeys who would fight all night on our balcony,it was cheap and convenient enough for two nights.
After dinner on one of Agra’s many rooftop balconies, plus our first beer in a month, we decided to head to bed early, excited for sightseeing in the morning.
We woke up for sunrise, and because it was Monday morning, the crowds were limited. On line, we met Patrick, who is from Germany but has been traveling for two years. Since he was only in town for the day, we decided join forces and explore the city together. First, we took a tour around the Taj, and with the morning fog, it made the majestic building difficult to see from afar, but all the more magical.
The best part was that since it was early on a Monday morning, it felt as though we were the only people there. We had the entire place to ourselves, or at least it felt that way. Slowly, as time went by, more and more people made their way into the area, but for a small moment, it felt special to have it all to ourselves.
We wandered around, had a few photo opportunities, and then headed for breakfast nearby. The fog was clearing out and it was a bit more clear as we were leaving, but we were all quite hungry since we had been up so early. We settled on one of the many cafes that offer a view of the Taj and relaxed a bit before our next stop: Agra Fort.
After a crazy rickshaw ride, which included a trip to the both train stations in town, one to pick up Patrick’s bag and another to inquire about tickets to Delhi, we finally made our way to the fort.
While at first we were unimpressed with the structure, especially after the grandeur of the Taj Mahal, the more we wandered around, the more we discovered and uncovered the fort’s beauty. The architecture here is stunning and worth exploring while in Agra.
Exhausted from our day of sightseeing, we headed back near our hotel and settled in for some chai, lassis, and wifi. After a quick bite to eat, it was time to part ways.
Patrick headed to the train station and we headed to back to our hotel to rest before dinner. With an early ride to Delhi in the morning, we settled in with a movie and early bedtime before we also had to part ways.
Our visit to Agra was memorable and hectic all at once. Not much time is needed in the city and only one night stay is really necessary, especially if you’re running short on time. Still, I am grateful to have finally checked off a major bucket list item.