I’ve heard one or two people say “never mix business with pleasure” – what a load of rubbish! I was visiting an exhibition in Greater Noida (about an hour or so outside of New Delhi) and due to our travel arrangements, it meant I would be in India for the weekend. That also resulted in a “leisure” day prior to my return flight home and when your hotel is one hundred and ninety kilometers away from one of the new seven wonders of the world, there’s only one thing to do – strap in and endure the bumpy, two and a half hour, road trip to Agra!
I’ll be honest, I was a little skeptical about visiting at first but as you approach this historical mausoleum your jaw begins to drop. It’s not the Taj Mahal that has that effect initially, rather the litter-ridden streets and poverty stricken slums of Agra that leave you gobsmacked. Even with approximately seven million visitors every year, it’s crazy to think that such severe levels of hardship exist in this area.
There’s a lot of debate online over whether or not to hire a guide. I did and he was superb! His knowledge was excellent and his photography skills were pretty decent too. Overall though I found it difficult to put my finger on exactly why it was so amazing. Maybe it’s physically being there to marvel at such majestic beauty? Perhaps it’s because it’s one of the new seven wonders of the world? What about the sheer volume of people it attracts? It could even be the fact that you can recreate that photo that so many others have taken previously. I suppose it’s conceivable that it could be a combination of all those things and although I had my reservations beforehand I’m glad I’ve been there (and could’ve bought the t-shirt).
My advice; take plenty of water, get a guide and don’t leave your girlfriend at home the first time you go…unless you want to visit again!