Doubletree by Hilton – Gurgaon (New Delhi, India)
I had set my alarm for 1:15 a.m. and was ready to leave at 2:00 to meet my driver in the lobby. While waiting I was given a cup of coffee to take with me on the three hour ride to visit the Taj Mahal, located in Agra, 198 km (123 miles) away.
My driver’s name was Ashok, who was fairly quiet most of the way. We made a few stops along the way so I could stretch my legs and use the restroom at one of the many well-maintained rest stops. The hotel provided us something to eat.
We arrived in Agra where we met my guide who took me to buy tickets. Ashok will wait for us outside. Since the ticket line was moving very slow he found someone to buy us tickets so we wouldn’t have to wait. We entered the grounds through the east gate, which was impressive on its own. Then I saw the Taj Mahal!
Since the “Taj” is unique and iconic, it was like seeing a picture come to life. You almost don’t believe you’re seeing the real thing, but I was. The guide (who I forgot to write down his name) took many pictures for me because he said he has been doing these tours for 11 years and knew the best places. I turned over my camera to him and he took so many pictures it will take me a couple of hours go through them all.
He told me the story about a Muslim king, a descendant of Genghis Kahn, who built this mausoleum for his wife who died at an early age. Another important piece of information was that this king was OCD. Very OCD. Everything needed to be symmetrical. When he built a mosque on one side of the Taj, he built another exact copy non-mosque on the other side, which is known as the guest house.
The detail that went into the Taj was performed by skilled craftsmen from several countries. The building materials likewise came from other countries as well, but the translucent marble was 100% Indian. The king’s family lived nearby in what is now known as the Red Fort.
To enter the mausoleum we were required to put on protective covers over our shoes. Many people went barefoot. This was to protect the marble floors. We walked around for about another hour and then the tour was over. Our tickets were good for three hours but I was okay with two. You can only take in so much at one time.
We met up with Ashok after we left through the west gate. From there we went to the Red Fort but didn’t go in since there isn’t much to see from the inside. I took a few pictures then drove to the Doubletree Hotel in Arga for breakfast. Ashok took the guide to another location while I waited.
Ashok and I ate a good breakfast before heading back to New Delhi. By now the outside temperature was rising but it didn’t get too hot. We arrived back in the Delhi area around 1:00 and I was back at the hotel by 2:00. Boy, was I tired. Soon after arriving in my room I was asleep.
I eventually woke and went up to the lounge for a light dinner then came back to my room to write today’s travel post. Of course Star Trek was watched and was in bed early. My driver will pick me up at 11:00 and will go on another tour of the Delhi area for four hours. I hope to get my hair cut tomorrow since it’s getting a little shaggy.