Trust Me, I'm a Storyteller

February 12, 2010

Delhi to Agra and the Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

I went again to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, this time with Susanne, Bill and Dr Ajeet Singh, the traffic was insane but it was well worth it to see the majestic Taj Mahal again, especially after having a good sleep the night before. Much further along the Yamuna River from Delhi, the  ‘Taj’ rises up like a vision. There is no mistaking this breathtaking Mughal mausoleum shining in the distance. The first view is of the Taj Mahal from inside Gate.


 The optical illusions continue as one approaches the Taj Mahal. Once inside the gate, the Taj seems quite small in the distance but suddenly looms up.

From different angles the minarets appear and disappear. The white marble sparkles and gleams in the sunlight and I’m told it is magical in moonlight—a sight I’d love to see.

Ajeet shows us how the red carnelian inlaid in the marble lights up with a translucent glow when he shines a small torch-light on it. The architectural feats are not only optical and Ajeet demonstrates how a sound will travel for 13 seconds around the tomb inside. He tells us the history of the Taj Mahal; the facts and the myths; as well as how the Taj Mahal is being preserved today.


The Taj Mahal is one place that is truly indescribable and you just have to see it for yourself, no picture can really do it justice because of the incredible beauty and the magic of the illusions as you walk around this wonder of the world. In the meantime, here is an online virtual tour.


Across the Yamuna River is the Red Fort of Agra where “at the end of his life, Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort …”

 Shah Jahan Emperor of the Mughal empire gazed upon the Taj Mahal, the tomb he built for his wife, for the rest of his days. His son went on to rule his kingdom.

“Interestingly, Agra Fort has a history that spans two generations of the Mughal emperors. Started during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar (1556-1605), the construction work on the Agra Fort continued till the reign of his grand son Shah Jahan (1627-58). Though started by Akbar in 1565, it was Shah Jahan, who constructed most of the buildings inside the fort.”


The royal bath is created from stone and used to be carried by elephants. It has a set of stone steps leading up to the bath.

Gardens with pools and fountains surround the walkways and marble rooms, chambers, harem and verandas. Its elevation gives stunning views across the Yamuna River. Several of the arched windows perfectly frame the view of the Taj Mahal. Enjoy the photos of these truly marvellous sights.

I had to admire the driving skill of our driver, Shaligram, from Dolphin Holidays in Connaught Place, Delhi. He managed to keep his concentration and skilfully manoeuvre through the clogged roads on the return trip. Though the passengers had a few heart-in-the-mouth moments, the driver kept his cool throughout the trip.

Meenakshi tells me there is a very fast train planned to go from Delhi to Agra which will take less than half the time it takes to drive there.  The road trip, though, is worth experiencing – you’ll see not only cars but brightly painted and adorned trucks and crowded auto-rickshaws, bicycles loaded with produce, motorbikes carrying whole families, fully loaded bullock carts, camel trains, elephants; bovines which stroll across the roads; monkeys, dogs even children darting in and out of traffic. Drivers seem to create their own lanes, continually merging into and re-emerging from the traffic snarls. The only rule seems that drivers move their vehicles over (where they can) if someone sounds the horn; which usually they obey. None of this seems to deter the Indian drivers who crowd the roads every day.  It took us from just after 6:00 am until after 8:30 pm to travel from Delhi to Agra and back; and to see the sights of Agra.**********

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A letter in today’s Sydney Morning Herald Traveller described one of the pitfalls of travelling by road:
“My husband and I took our children to visit family in India in July and wanted to see the Taj Mahal. We borrowed a friend’s car and drove from Delhi to Agra, where we were stopped by police demanding to see the car’s papers. All the documents were in order but they insisted the car was going to be confiscated despite there being a baby and a toddler in the car and an outside temperature of 45 degrees.”

This is why I book day trips with Hemlata at Dolphin Holidays – not only do they have very skilled drivers and good cars but they never seem to have any problems with police. I’d recommend Dolphin Holidays (and Hemlata who does the bookings) any time. I have had several trips with them now and have never had any problems. I don’t have any financial or other interest in Dolphin Holidays, I am solely a customer who uses their tour service. On the one trip (in Goa) where I didn’t book through Dolphin Holidays, I had a very similar experience as the letter writer above, though fortunately there were no children or babies on board. Just the same, the thought of the car being confiscated and being left on the road to Goa without transport was very disconcerting.

I also recommend Dr Ajeet Singh Chouhan who is not only qualified and well read in politics and history but is an excellent guide who is accredited by the Ministry of Tourism & Culture Govt India. Ajeet freelances as a guide for most of the Indian states and is very knowledgable. If you are planning to see India, email Ajeet at

To contact Dolphin Holidays
(A Division of Dolphin Travels Pvt. Ltd.)
An IATA Accredited &
ISO:9001:2000 Certified company
B -6, Lajpat Nagar – II
IIIrd Floor, Above Axis Bank
New Delhi – 110 024.
Tel  # 00 91 11 4353 0000 / 43530023
Mobile: 09313989879
Fax # 00 91 11  4152 9596 / 43528614
Website –
Member of :- IATO ; PATA ; ASTA ; TAAI ; TAFI ; IATA ; FIATA.

Today’s Writing Tip
It isn’t only the destination but the journey that is important; how you get to your destination is part of the appeal, challenge, planning, serendipity and experience. Write about a journey that was more fun or important or exciting or challenging than the destination itself.


1 Comment »

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