The Taj Mahal in Agra, India is one of those places that always turns up in lists of sights to visit before you die. It was on my bucket list. But I never planned to visit it within the next few years knowing how grueling the trip would be for a Filipino. I’m so blessed to have been given the chance to see it much earlier than expected.
The agency network I belong to organized a trip to Agra after a 3-day conference in Delhi. I grabbed the chance since it would’ve been expensive for me to do it on my own. The flight alone from Manila to Delhi via Singapore costs hundreds of dollars. And a pain too, if I’d do Agra on another occasion. You fly to Singapore for a little over 3 hours, lay over in Changi for 3, then take another 5.5 hours from Singapore to Delhi. It was exhausting. The only consolation was the nice, chilly weather that greeted the Philippine delegation in Delhi. It was around 11 degrees. Early March was a great time to be in that part of India, where temperatures rise as high as 45 in the summer.
About 30 people from the conference stayed on for Agra. A fun group composed of colleagues from the Singapore, Jakarta, Seoul and Manila offices. We rode a huge bus that traveled for 3.5 hours through the swanky Yamuna Expressway. The 165-kilometer-long highway connects Delhi and Noida, the access to Agra. It was a comfortable ride — think NLEX and 3 hours of watching the Bulacan countryside.
We got to Agra early Friday evening, then checked in at the ITC Hotel (great exteriors, nice lobby and restos, but the rooms desperately need a makeover). We took the 10-minute trip from ITC to the Taj the next morning. This is what we saw. Not much annotation needed. You must know about how an Emperor’s love for a dead wife made it happen, the special white marble, the symmetry, its unique architecture an all. India is incredible indeed.