A few months before my trip to India, I was having vivid thoughts about the Taj Mahal. India had always been on my bucket list but almost out of nowhere my interest in India peaked, long before an actual trip was in the foreseeable future. I began telling people the Taj Mahal would be my #1 place to visit, and started checking out travel books from the library and watching documentaries about India's iconic white marble landmark. It seemed like I was preparing for a trip that would maybe take place in the next 10 years or so .. then seemingly out of no where, my Mom invites me to join her on a trip to Bangladesh and India! How weird is that?! I almost fell over. This was one of those weird situations that only destiny could have planned.
After spending a total of five days in India, visiting Delhi and the Pink City of Jaipur, we headed to Agra, the last city in the Golden Triangle. Getting to Agra took a few hours and while speeding down the rural freeways, we stopped along the way to visit small Hindu temples and charming roadside restaurants. Slowly, as the traffic noticeably picked up and buildings appeared in the distance, we arrived in Arga, ready to explore our final city.
While in Agra, we spent most of our time whizzing down bumpy market streets through Agra's crowded city centers. I was happily snapping my photos through the car window, trying to capture daily life and the feel of the city, while not letting the road conditions ruin too many shots. It was quite a difficult task!
At the end of our first day in Agra, we went to a garden lookout to see the back of the Taj Mahal. The scene was so calm and quiet with a slow moving sunset and graceful river framing our view. It was the ultimate teaser for the following day!
Waking up on our second day in Agra, the entire city was covered in a thick blanket of fog. We almost couldn't see 25 feet in front of us! Because the weather had other unforeseen plans, we started our morning at the Agra Fort exploring the grounds, waiting for the fog to clear before heading to the Taj Mahal. The massive red fort is both a museum and an active military training site. While walking through the fort, we could hear military drills in preparation for India's upcoming Republic Day parade. Going from room to room in the massive foggy fortress, with military chants echoing in the distance, made me feel like I had been transported back in time.
After spending some time at the Agra Fort, we headed over to India's crown jewel, the Taj Mahal. My heart dropped when we first arrived because the city's lingering fog was making it difficult to see anything in the distance. Ignoring the fog, we took a few photos with our guide in the front garden, then entered the royal tomb to see inside. This grand tomb was built for a queen by a heart broken king after she passed away. His love for her was so strong and so deep that he created this white marble tomb in her honor. Inside the tomb is where she was laid to rest, with her husband placed beside her. As history goes, there was to be a separate black marble replica tomb built for the king in the garden across the river, the same place we had our first view of the Taj Mahal the day before. The two tombs would have symbolized their unity but was unfortunately never built.
Needless to say, the Taj Mahal met every expectation I had built it up to be. It was spectacular! All of India was amazing and I loved every city in the Golden Triangle, but the Taj Majal was truly the most anticipated part of the trip. The grandness and elegance of this massive tomb still gives me chills today.
Now that I have checked off my top bucket list sight, I'll have to go searching for a suitable replacement.