I’m skipping a day again as on the 10th day was entirely spent on travelling. Ramesh, the driver who was driving us around in Bhopal was going to drive me around the entire Madhya Pradesh for the next couple of days. Since I learnt that he had travelled the entire MP and knew almost all the places all too well, I asked him if he could lend his driving services for the rest of the trip, which he happily accepted. We fixed the per kilometer rate and his daily allowance and left for the rest of the journey.
Luckily I was reaching Agra on 11th Jan, 2020, the night of full moon. State tourism of Agra had recently started moonlight visits to the Taj Mahal five nights a month. The five nights are the full moon night itself and the two nights before and two nights after. In order to visit the Taj at night one has to buy a 500 rs ticket from the ‘Archaeological Survey Of India’ office in Agra. And the ticket also needs to be bought 24 hours in advance. Only 400 visitors are allowed every night in the batches of half an hour visit, out of which 200 are Indians and 200 are foreigners. The office closes at 6pm, so my plan was to reach Agra before 6pm and purchase the ticket for the Taj night view the next night. But a traffic jam at the poll booth in Agra ruined my plan. I reached Agra at 7:30 pm, disappointed that I missed my chance of the ‘Taj night view’.
11th January, 2020. I had decided to view Taj Mahal in three different light scenarios of the day. Once in the warm light of the dawn, then in the bright light of the afternoon and finally in the beautiful dusk light. I was at the Taj ticket counter by 6 am. I took the ticket, went through the security check, got a tourist guide to show me around while narrating the entire history of the monument. The entire experience was magnificent. I can never forget my first sight of this amazingly beautiful monument.
My guide also gave me a great tip for my dusk visit. He said there’s a famous garden on the other side of the Yamuna river which is famous for the evening view of the Taj Mahal. It’s around 10 kilometers commute but I was sure the view would be worth it.
After a morning visit to the Taj Mahal I went to see Agra Fort. This fort is huge but only 25 percent of the fort is open for the common public as the remaining 75 percent has been occupied by the Indian Army.
Afternoon view of Taj Mahal
Some final tip before I end the blog on the 11th day. During my visit to Mehtab baug to view Taj Mahal at dusk, I came to know from a local guide that the Mehtaab Baug remains open till 12 at night. Which means, if you missed a chance to book tickets to ‘Taj Night View’, you can still view Taj Mahal in the moonlight from Mehtaab Baug and that too at half the price.
To Be Continued…