Sunrise over the Taj

We got up shortly before 6, to walk over to the Taj Mahal. Our lovely Aman Homestay Guesthouse was close to the ticket counter, and we got there just in time for opening at sunrise.

There was already a huge queue, but – once opened – it moved fast. We were there in time to see some of the first rays of light hitting the Taj. Mission accomplished.

It is a beautiful, stunning building.

And it is absolutely worth going to Agra for this, and even sitting 16 hours in a slow moving train.

The Taj Mahal, which means ‘crown of palaces’ is a mausoleum built between 1632 and 1653 in memory of the third wife of Indian Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who died during child birth.

It is a world heritage site, and definitely one of the finest buildings I have ever seen.


Inside, the rather dark interior houses the two marble coffins of the emperor and his beloved wife, inside a structure of finely carved marble. Persian calligraphy and precious stone inlays decorate the building on the in- and outside.

There were of course lots of tourists, but it did not seem overtly crowded. We walked through the gardens and had a look and the ‘fake’ mosque. One of the two adjacent buildings is an actual mosque, the other was merely added for symmetry.

Symmetry is the key word here, as everything is absolutely symmetrical, from the miniature marble carvings to the main structure itself with the four minarets and the mosques.

Funnily, only the two marble sarcophaguses are not symmetrical, while his wife lies in the center of the structure, his own coffin was placed slightly on the side of hers.

Well, it is done, the cornerstone of every visit to India. We were both euphoric, and happy to have seen it. You just cannot go to India and not see it.

We should have boarded our train to Delhi in the morning at 8.40. The Railway’s website already announced its delay, and we were not so keen to actually sit through another journey that takes twice as long as we thought.

So we tried to cancel the tickets and instead bought tickets for the bus ride to Delhi.

We had a relatively new modern bus with AC, the upholstering of the seats indicated late-80s or early-90s, and we drove north of Agra over a pretty brand new highway into Delhi.