The Taj Mahal is one of the seven Wonders of the World. But as a foreigner, it is one of the places to be looted easily. Although the beauty of the Taj is for all to see, the number of touts and businesses that have sprung around every nook and corner is irritating indeed. I’ll list you some of the common mistakes that you can avoid while taking a trip to the Taj.
You don’t need a guide
Guides are the most irritating part of the whole journey. To remove that part, try reading up on a short history of the Taj. The guides usually take you on a trip filled with inane lies and misplaced historical aspects. The internet is one of the best places to understand the history of the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is an immense monstrosity of marble which was constructed at the cost of an empire.
The dark history of Taj Mahal
The emperor Shah Jahan had this wonder built in find remembrance of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Apparently, he was so besotted (read: horny) by her, he sired her many children. Ironically she died during childbirth. Emperor Shah Jahan pretty much lost his nuts after that and ordered the construction of the Taj Mahal. For 22 long years, the royal coffers were emptied as artisans and marble are brought in from the middle East. As rumours go, the emperor ordered the thumbs of the artisans to be cut off so that they couldn’t replicate the structure. So strong was his love, that he actually commissioned similar monuments around the Taj Mahal. He was in the process of building another one in black marble before sanity prevailed and his son, Aurangzeb locked him up for good.
Now that you have read up on the short history of the Taj, try and enjoy the beauty and magnificence of human artisanship. The history guides will romanticize the whole era making you wonder about your own love story.
Due to extreme amounts of pollution affecting the Taj Mahal, fossil fuel vehicles are not allowed nearby. So your cars will drop you off at the ticket counter and there’s a kilometer worth of walking. If you’re in for a long haul, take a leisurely stroll instead of taking the battery operated cars. They are basically a sham to extend another earning capacity for the locals. It is ironical that you can light up near the Taj and you’ll also see the locals themselves trotting about on gas powered vehicles. They give two hoots about the monument and so should you.
The photographers are another nuisance to the public milling around. They will assure you of high-quality photographs clicked by them which will be priced exorbitantly. You will be much better off clicking yourself.
The overcrowded Taj
Taj Mahal is one of the most overcrowded of monuments. Somehow a plethora of Indians who have seen the monument will keep coming back for more. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best time to visit the Taj. There will be people in different poses trying to capture it in the most cliched of photographs. Click a few but mostly try to dwell in the beauty of the place.
The shops outside selling fake Taj Mahal and Petha
The most over rated of them all. Selling shitty products at skyrocketing prices is something that Indians have learned. Most of these places will tempt you with faux pas Taj Mahals made of false marble which will crack by the time you reach him. They will probably charge you $100 or more. The Petthas are another scam that the locals have invented. Pettha is one of Agra’s prime sweet dishes and the most popular of them all in the Panchchi Petha. Every shop around town will try to convince you that they sell authentic Petha. Instead, there is only one shop that sells the original one and that is at Sadar Bazar. The best way to understand them: The servers are rude and they won’t give you two hoots. They are so busy selling off their stuff that you have to be very specific with your order.
Although the Taj has been corrupted by the hanger-on’s that pervade Indian Tourism, it is still a monument you can enjoy and marvel at. I will leave you with some more pictures of this timeless beauty. Tell me about your experience of the Taj Mahal.
Images Copyright: Salt And Sandals