Sunrise at the Taj Mahal in India

We were woken up at 5:30 by the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer.

Dashing out with only a single coffee inside me we managed to arrive at West Gate of the Taj Mahal by 6:45.

Immediately a man came up to us and offered to be our guide.

“Oh, here we go again,” I said.

He exclaimed, “Please sir, no hanky-panky here, I am official government guide!”

Already there was a long line, with men on one side and women on the other. The gate didn’t open until sunrise, listed at the ticket counter as 7:04 am.

At seven we were allowed to slowly trickle in, the slowness caused by an extensive search of all the tourists (hence the separate lines for men and women.)
Everyone is searched at the entrance to the Taj Mahal in Agra, IndiaWe were further delayed by the presence of cough candies in Al’s backpack (no edibles allowed), along with a tripod, flashlite and a few other undesirable items.

Al had to take everything back to a locker room which turned out to be located a long ways away.If they find illicit items on you during the search you are sent back to the locker room. In Al's case they found cough candies in his backpack (no edibles allowed), along with a tripod and flashlite (Taj Mahal in Agra, India)Meanwhile, I was stuck in the outer courtyard, holding Al’s pack and heavy camera, along with mine. Since I wasn’t going anywhere fast I snapped a few shots of the sun rise over the grassy square, acutely aware that our sunrise at the Taj Mahal was already happening while I was just standing there.While waiting for Al to return from the locker room I managed to to snap a few shots of the sun rise over the grassy square (Taj Mahal in Agra, India)Another shot of the sun rising without me. I couldn’t even see the Taj from where I was standing – it was behind a wall and heavy haze obscured any distant views. Time was flying by while I stood and waited.Time's flying while I stand and wait at The Taj Mahal in Agra, IndiaLater Al told me that the locker room was so far away that he ended up hiring a bicycle rickshaw for the return trip. But it was uphill on the way back so the guy he hired walked the rickshaw the whole way, and didn’t save any time at all.

At least the line of early risers had already gone through by the time Al had returned. We were given shoe covers and a small bottle of water free with the outrageous 750R entrance fee.

While Al purchased the tickets I talked to a man who said that the shoe covers were a blessing. He had been here before and “you had to go check your shoes – a nightmare, half an hour to check them in and another half an hour to get them back.”

We raced through the gates but by the time we finally made it into the Taj the place was full of annoying tourists and lots of touts, locals who had only paid 20R to get in.Finally Al gets through and we race through the gates to the Taj Mahal in Agra, IndiaFirst up was quick snap of the classic ‘tourist in front of the reflecting pool’ type shot… A quick snap of the classic ‘tourist in front of the reflecting pools’ type shot…then one of the Taj alone in the reflecting pool.
The Taj Mahal in Agra, India just after sunriseThen we hit the Taj itself and as soon as they saw us the touts rushed out. One whipped the shoe covers out of my hands, opening them up for me to step into all the time muttering, “tip, tip”.

I snatched them back – they were only for the inside, not the grounds themselves. But the grounds contained another batch of touts who were intent on herded us toward the east side, calling out “this way, this way.” The Taj was apparently still aglow from the rising sun, “Taj all pink, sir, Taj all pink…”

I thought, oh great, 300 tourists with the same 300 photos of a rosy pink Taj, and the touts all hanging about muttering “tip, tip…” I took this quick close-up of the Taj with the sky stained pink behind it. The Taj Mahal in Agra, India just after the sunrise has turned it all pinkThen we headed off instead to the west side, where the Taj was submerged in shadows. The Taj didn’t look as good here, coloured a dreary grey against a foggy background. But no one else was there, we were completely alone. The Taj Mahal in Agra, India just after sunriseOff to one side was another large building, made of intricately carved red sandstone, deserted except for a single monkey racing away.A monkey races by the red sandstone mosque beside the Taj Mahal in Agra, IndiaWhen we ventured into the building, a man appeared out of nowhere, wildly flapping his hands and pointing at our shoes. This was apparently a mosque we were entering and it was necessary to remove our shoes before we went any further.the red sandstone mosque next to the Taj Mahal in AgraIn our stocking feet we had to tread carefully around the pigeon droppings, taking several photos of the dim hallways. the red sandstone mosque next to the Taj MahalComing out one of the arched doorway I saw the sun rising over the Taj Mahal, and took this picture. There wasn’t a single tourist in sight – all 300 of them were still on the other side of the building.sunrise at the Taj MahalAnd another a bit later. I guess I got my sunrise after all! Taj Mahal at sunrise, Agra, IndiaMore of our trip to Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan in 2010.


6 responses to “Sunrise at the Taj Mahal in India

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