Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Travertino tops the Taj Mahal

Once we make it past the photographers nagging to photograph me at the Taj Mahal for a fee, I relax a little. My handsome Taj guide points out the passage from the Qur’an on the pishtaq (a rectangular arch) and how the size of the letters is an optical illusion.

On the other side lies the Taj Mahal, like a fairytale image in the distance.

Handsome Guide is no expert but tells the story of the Taj Mahal enthusiastically. He explains how the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built all this for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, one year after her death in 1632. Although the Taj is his most famous monument, he commissioned many other great works of architecture, including the Red Fort, where he was placed under house arrest by his son in 1657.

The Taj Mahal may be a monumental display of love but I do not find it very romantic. In fact, when we enter the tomb I get an eerie feeling, although the white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones is exquisite.

Four minarets (used in the Islamic call for prayer) surround the tomb. The Taj is in fact a functional mosque yet only local Muslims may pray here.

On our way back to the parking lot we stop by two shops and although I know I’m getting a bad deal I am not feeling up for a fight. So when the rickshaw guy wants to attack me because I’m not willing to pay double what he quoted I feel like bursting into tears. Then my driver is nowhere to be found.

Handsome Guide sorts it all out for me (at least one worthwhile rip-off) and soon I am back in Delhi, where my friend Hindol is horrified at my choice of budget hotel.

“Lajpat Nagar?” he says, “you come to Delhi for the first time and you stay in Lajpat Nagar?”

Hindol decides to take proper care of me, showing me the India Gate which reminds of the Champs ElyseĆ© in lights. He also introduces me to fine Indian wine (which is surprisingly good considering I didn’t even know they make wine in India) and the lovely Travertino restaurant at the Oberoi Delhi.

All heightened due to the fact that I didn’t eat or drink a single thing all day during my trip from Delhi to Agra and back. Been there, done that, but please, never again!


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Quotes of Melvin said...

Hi your post is interesting. Sorry for the bad experience.

So how would you advise a foreigner coming to Taj Mahal the first time?

Mona Lize said...

Hi Melvin, it's probably best to organise your trip through a reputable travel company in order to save money, time and hassle. I booked with when I went to Kerala and was very happy with the result. Also better to stay in Agra instead of Delhi which makes it easier to view the Taj Mahal early in the morning when the light is most flattering. Please let me know your experience if you do go. Thanks for reading.

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