How to Visit the Taj Mahal
“Words can never describe the true beauty of the Taj Mahal,” is a catch-phrase tour guides often use. While words may be able to depict the glowing marble used to create the tomb and to explain how the gardens reflect the typical Mughal style of running water courses, or how the minarets flanking the Taj sway slightly away from the magnificent marble wonder, or how workers spent millions of hours hand-carving 28 types of semiprecious stones to be inlaid in the Taj’s marbled walls, words fall short in capturing the love emperor Shah Jahan must have felt toward his bride Mumtaz Mahal (“The Chosen One of the Palace”) to build her such a marvel. It took 22 years to build, and now has stood for hundreds of years, a true testament to what passion can produce.
Getting there: The Taj Mahal is located in the heart of Agra, a few hours’ drive from Delhi. The best way to get there is to hire a car and driver in Delhi. Use your hotel’s concierge service to book the car, as this the most reliable and safe way. Along the way you will notice a lot of roadside eateries. It is best to eat at reputed and known restaurants or eateries. Usually your driver will be able to make good recommendations. Of course, you can always bring with you food and bottled water from your hotel. Please note that The Taj Mahal is closed to the public on Fridays.
Staying there – While many people opt for a day trip, staying overnight is highly recommended so that you can experience other activities in the city including an opera celebrating the Taj, shopping and, of course, delicious meals. One of the options is The Gateway Hotel, which offers not only great views of the Taj, but also fun activities for children including a puppet show and kite flying. For adults there’s a palm reader to tell you your fortune. Gatewayhotels.com. If you are looking for luxury, then the best place to stay is The Oberoi Amarvillas which offers spectacular views of the Taj Mahal. http://www.oberoihotels.com/oberoi_amarvilas/index.asp
Dining there – For a grand meal paying homage to the Mughal empire in India, dine at the Peshawri restaurant in the ITC Mughal Hotel. Peshawri offers succulent kebabs, creamy lentils and warm breads – but no silverware! Their logic: when in India, do as the Indians do and eat with your hands. itcwelcomgroup.in/index.aspx
What else to see – Kalakriti offers a nightly opera showcasing the love story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. The show includes music, dance and spectacle. Kalakritionline.com
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