The Most Touristy Thing I’ve Ever Done

I don’t typically travel for the sake of seeing über-touristy places.  But, if something is in front of me and it looks interesting, then why not?

As of today, I’ve managed to check out the two most visited tourist spots in India.  The rock garden is the second.  The first is hardly a surprise to anyone as it’s a household name all over the world.  You probably  initially heard of it in grade school as it’s considered to be one of the seven wonders of the world.

I’ll bet that no one ever taught you that the Taj Majal translates to the Crown Palace.

I arrived in Agra yesterday by second class a/c train.   I got up at the crack of dawn today and ventured to see this esteemed work of architecture.  I must admit that the site and its grounds are rather impressive.

What I Learned

●  The Taj Majal took 22 years to construct.  It was started in 1631 and completed in 1653.

●  Because it took 22 years, it contains 22 domes.

●  The stupendous site has 16 rooms and 31 arches.  Construction commenced in 1631.

●  There are 16 gardens and 53 fountains which signify the completion year of 1653.

●  There were roughly 20,000 laborers needed.

●  The reason it’s considered one of the seven wonders is because of the perfect symmetry.  From the entry point to the palace, the length is 183 meters or 600 feet.  The Royal Mosque sits west of the Taj, towards the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.  To the east of the Taj is the Royal Guest House.  The guest house and mosque are situated at the exact same distance away from the palace.

●  The palace rises to 81 meters or 266 feet.

●  The Taj Majal was built to honor Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s third wife who passed away during the birth of their 14th child.

●  After the completion of the Taj Majal, Shah Jahan’s megalomania caused him to force the skilled artisans of the project to have their hands removed.  This was to ensure that no one could recruit them to construct another building as magnificent.  For their tragic loss, apparently the Shah compensated the men greatly .

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The above facts are what I learned on a guided tour.   If you’d like to learn more, check out this link

The entrance cost is 750 Rupees ($16.90) for foreigners and 20 Rupees ($.45 ) for Indian nationals.  For the foreigners at least, this includes a guided tour and half a liter of water.  Be prepared to check out some marble shops with your guide after you leave the Taj as he’ll be waiting for you.   

I was surprised that my guide thought that I might buy and send a marble coffee table, or purchase a useless little marble elephant that would only take up space and weight in my pack.

If you’d like to see more Taj Majal photos: http://www.photobucket.com/earthdrifter-tajmajal

7 Responses to The Most Touristy Thing I’ve Ever Done

  1. earthdrifter says:

    A thousand thanks to everyone for the comments on the photos. I’m more motivated to go out and get a new camera now!
    KAZU: The Taj Majal has not sold out and put a restaurant inside thank goodness. :-) There are plenty of places to eat near the entrance, and plenty of people with shops wanting to sell souvenirs.
    PIYUSH: Thanks for commenting again. If I can get back to your Hindustan I hope I can come your way and drink some Indian whiskey with you. One night in Varanasi I had two glasses of whiskey with water and no ice. This is all the alcohol I consumed on the whole six-week trip. It was surprisingly super smooth and soothing to my stomach. :-)

  2. Piyush Kumar says:

    Awesome pictures.

  3. Kazu says:

    Wow. I have seen the picture many times, but I’ve never been there. It looks like the Indian white house doesn’t it? Do they have a restaurant inside for tourists? Just kidding.
    This is my first time commenting on your blog! I will go to the dentist on Friday. I hope they will do as good job like what you just had. Take care.

  4. Mamma says:

    FANTASTIQUE PICS !

  5. Seantonio Verde says:

    Very nice pics indeed.

  6. Al says:

    The Taj Majal. Nice! Touristy or not it’s definitely an experience that’ll stay with you. Nice pictures too. Can you actually go inside and see the tomb?

    You’ve seen a respectably large chunk of India so far. What are your plans? Are Mumbai, Kolkata, or other big cities on your mind or do you plan to avoid those? Were you tempted to cross into Tibet/China considering you were so close, or maybe Nepal? Looking forward to more postings!

    • earthdrifter says:

      AL: As much is I wanna say that The Taj Majal is overrated, it’s still definitely a visual sensation. It was fun to learn about too. I managed to go inside yes, there are two pics on the photobucket link above. And yes I managed to see the tomb of Shah Jahan King of the World but didn’t get a pic.
      I just arrived in Varanasi. I plan to check out some ridiculously old architecture. I hope to get a ticket to Kolkata after that.
      I don’t think it’s possible to cross from India to Tibet. Trekking in Nepal is said to be virtually impossible this time of year due to the rain.
      Need a nap now after around 15 hours of travel, more on that in my next post ideally.

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