On 30th December, 2016, after we finished celebrating Deepshree’s birthday in Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi, we suddenly found both of us embroiled in an intense quarrel. This was the worst way I could have hoped to be on the birthday of Deepshree. Fortunately for me, this happened in the night as I had to write 2 papers that morning. We hardly slept that night.
Next morning, we were up early by about 4:00 AM. We got ready and went to New Delhi Railway Station. The cab from Taj dropped us at the Ajmeri Gate side of New Delhi Railway Station. We had to walk across all the platforms of New Delhi Railway Station to reach Platform Number 1 where we had to catch Bhopal Shatabdi Express. Anyway, we got into the train. The train started on time at 6:00 AM.
We were supposed to reach Agra by 8:00 AM. However, we were moving very slowly as there was a thick fog all the way through the way. We were served breakfast on the train which is part of the ticket. As the train was delayed, we were served an extra helping of Tea and Biscuits.
We reached Agra at around 10:00 AM. We had reserved a cab from Mariott Hotel to pick us up. The cab driver was waiting for us with a placard. We got into the Innova. The cab driver suggested that we visit Taj Mahal first as the rush would still be less at that time. We agreed.
The cab driver took us to one of the Parking lots of the Taj Mahal. He dropped us there and showed us the way to the Ticket Counter. He then took our luggage to Mariott Hotel while we would be roaming around the Taj Mahal.
At the Ticket Counter, we met a young guide. We agreed to take his services for Rs. 1,000. I do not exactly recollect how much we paid for the ticket to enter Taj Mahal.
One of the important aspect is that one cannot carry Cigarettes into the Taj Mahal premises. So, I left my Cigarette Packet and Lighter in our Innova.
From the Ticket Counter, we took a battery driven bus to reach the gate of Taj Mahal. The Bus Conductor took Rs. 15 per head from us.
At the entrance to Taj Mahal, we both had to separate and join separate lines – one for Ladies and one for Gents. There is very heavy security at the gate of Taj Mahal. They checked us thoroughly and also our Camera Bag. Anyway, we got through without any hassles.
The Entrance to Taj Mahal
This was the first time Deepshree was visiting Agra and thus the Taj Mahal. This is in spite of the fact that we had been married for more than 20 years. I had been to Taj Mahal twice before – first time when I was in High School in Delhi and the second time with Riya, Ranoo & Ma when I worked for Siemens.
On reaching Taj Mahal, both of us began to relax. We were gradually coming out of our fight the previous night.
Photo at the Entrance
There is a bench at the entrance of the Taj Mahal. This is a very popular spot for taking photographs. Normally, from this spot, one gets a very good shot of the Taj Mahal; though the structure is quite far away from here. However, on that day, there was such a heavy fog that Taj Mahal could not be seen from this spot. Anyway, we took a snap here. The guide helped us with the same.
Dignitaries Photo Shooting Spot
We had to walk in quite a distance before we could get a fair glimpse of the Taj Mahal.
This is the spot where all Dignitaries visiting India (they definitely visit the Taj Mahal) take photographs. There is a bench made of marble at this spot. All the visitors were taking photographs here. Our Guide worked quite a bit and vacated the entire spot for us so that we could take photographs.
Around the Main Mausoleum
Entering to the Main Mausoleum
At this point, we are asked to buy Shoe Covers. Each pair of Shoe Covers costs Rs. 10.
The Walls of the Main Mausoleum
Around the Taj Mahal, there are 4 Minarets. The Minarets are so made that they will help the Taj Mahal from getting destroyed in case of any earthquake.
View from the Mausoleum
View from the Gardens
The Engineer’s Quarters
By the time, we reached the Engineer’s Quarters, both of us were fully relaxed and back to our normal selves.
The Engineer’s Quarters are identical rooms where the Engineers who built Taj Mahal lived during the period of the construction. Our Guide told us that it was false that the Emperor Shahjahan cut the hands of the Engineers after the construction of Taj Mahal was completed. The fact was that these workers, having worked with the Marble Stones for so long, lost their hands from the wrists as they were exposed to too much of Chuna (Calcium Hydroxide).
After Taj Mahal
We spent nearly 3 hours at the Taj Mahal. We had to take the bBattery Driven Bus to come back to the Parking Lot where our cab was waiting for us. We got into the cab and headed towards our Hotel for Lunch.
After having Lunch, we visited the Agra Fort. Click here for view Agra Fort through our lenses.
From Agra Fort, we went to Itmad-ud-Daula. Click here for view Itmad-ud-Daula through our lenses.
We wanted to also visit Fatehpur Sikri. However, there was not enough time for that. We planned that we would visit Fatehpur Sikri the next morning as our return train was only at 2:00 PM in the afternoon.
So, we returned to the Hotel. We ordered Tea and Pakodas. We enjoyed it very much and were fully back to our normal selves.
New Year Eve
As a part of our Hotel package, we were invited to the New Year Party organised at the hotel. We got ready at 9:00 PM and went to the party. We went around the Party Area for about 30 minutes. Then we had our first drink. We had 3 more pegs of whisky by around 11:30 PM. Then, Deepshree suggested that we join the dance. We went to the Dance Room. The DJ has playing very nice music. A lot of people were dancing there.
I do not know how to dance. So, Deepshree taught me some basic steps. While we were dancing, the clock struck 12 midnight. There was a huge fire cracker show at that time. We came out of the Dance Floor and enjoyed the Fire Cracker Show.
At 12:30 AM, we again went to the bar and ordered drinks. We also had some dinner at this time. After dinner, we sat in the lawns and kept drinking till about 3:00 AM. At that time, Deepshree wanted to return to the room. I had to escort her back in our room.
We slept till about 10:00 AM in the morning. So, we had to abandon our plans for visiting the Fatehpur Sikri.
Return to Delhi
I found that there was a lot of fog that morning as well. On enquiring I found that our train (as most of the trains) was running 6 hours late. So, I had to change plan as we had to catch our flight back to Bangalore at 8:00 PM from Delhi.
I booked a taxi to take us back to Delhi. We agreed to pay him Rs. 2,500. I cancelled our train tickets. At around 2:00 PM, we stated from Agra in the taxi.
Once on the highway, the drive is very smooth. We reached Delhi Airport at around 6:00 PM. We checked in and boarded our flight back to Bangalore.