Slur in India: Agra, Home of the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal.

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Definitely one of the most impressive buildings I have ever seen. The name actually means crown of palaces but it isn’t really a palace but a tomb built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is really magnificent.

The town the Taj is in is called Agra, really they should have stopped building in 1653 when they finished the Taj. You do not get a lot for your money in Agra when it comes to accommodation  at least at the budget end. If you have the money to spare you could stay at the Oberoi which is fantastic, we had a bottle of wine on the terrace there overlooking the wonderful gardens and pools with a view of the Taj in the background. The bottle of wine with gorgeous free nibbles is however all we could afford on this trip but next time we’ll be staying here.

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Our room however in a far less salubrious area was a twenty pound a night fleapit but it did have a truly great view of the Taj. We found out to our cost that there was a wedding right outside our window all night every night we were there, hardly the hotels fault but tough nonetheless.

Something which annoys many travelers is the difference in price between foreign and Indian entrance prices, in the case of the Taj it was 750 rupees for foreigners and 25 for Indians. It is a big difference but here I would pay it happily, even with a laugh on my lips. As you approach the entrance gate you see a queue of literally hundreds of people, it was a hundred meters long! You do see however that the extra entrance allows you to simply walk right to the front of the line and get in straight away, after a quick search anyway. Well worth the money. There was an interesting touch to the search, in my camera bag there was a chillum which they pulled out of course, and then dutifully told me to leave in one of the lockers. Imagine that happening in England if the police find a chillum in your bag on the way into the Tower of London?

Agra is a necessary evil but the Taj is a must see!

Lucien Grey

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