India Day 1-2: Delhi and Agra, the Taj Mahal

This blog post comes to you from the very tired (jetlagged?) mind of someone who thought they’d try and resuscitate their travel blog from the sad death it died after a trip to Uganda back in 2015.

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve been on the road, but after having itchy feet and a low bank balance for a while I decided it was about time for another adventure. And another blog!

New Delhi

After a pretty terrible overnight flight where I got probably less than two hours of sleep after the woman next to me insisted on elbowing me all night, Natasha (my flatmate who I’m travelling with, for those of you who don’t know her) and I landed in Delhi. We were thrown into the action as soon as we arrived and we had definitely not prepared ourselves for what was to come.

India curry
Curry curry curry curry

Jumping out of an Uber into Old Delhi it soon became clear we were the only tourists around, and surrounded by motorbikes, cars, tuk tuks and locals all using the roads with no clear system or direction we felt pretty overwhelmed. There are no pavements so you’re completely exposed in the road and as two white females alone we attracted a lot of attention.

We were definitely pleased to join the tour group for the trip around India as it was clear we’d need some guidance (and unfortunately, a male chaperone) to get us around. We were introduced to the group over a delicious curry in Delhi on the first evening and everyone seems lovely.

After another fairly sleepless night we woke up at 4.30am (midnight UK time) to get on a train from Delhi to Agra. The train – which had some strange tannoy announcements like, “Do not smoke on the train. This is punishable.” – was air conditioned and comfortable and we were served a kind of spicy hash brown for breakfast. We arrived in Agra at 8am, ready to take on the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal was as beautiful, majestic and picturesque as I expected it to be, in spite of the less-than-wonderful weather. Almost as soon as we clapped eyes on the building there were screams of “RUN!” and we quickly hid under some shelter before the heavens opened and it absolutely poured down (shout out here goes to our tour guide Ahmed who gave me his bright green hat to stop my hair from getting wet).

Taj Mahal Sian And Tash
Natasha and I outside the Taj Mahal!

Luckily it didn’t last long, but it did make me aware our tour group was attracting a lot of attention – people were taking our photos, asking for selfies and one man even asked for a picture with his child (?!). I thought we would be less unusual at a tourist attraction like that, but we were still pretty much the only white people around.

The afternoon saw us visit the Baby Taj – basically a smaller, lesser known monument in the same style as the Taj Mahal. It was built first and served as inspiration for the Taj, and it was built by a woman (says it all really)! It was just as beautiful and I maybe even enjoyed the visit more, because it was so quiet with nowhere near as many people there as at the main Taj, and there was a gorgeous sunset to watch.

The Baby Taj
The Baby Taj was a bit of a hidden gem in Agra

A lovely rooftop dinner – South Indian cuisine this time, which included a delicious sugary pumpkin sweet for dessert – was followed by an early night after our very early start which left us all a little jetlagged. Tomorrow morning, a long journey to Jaipur awaits…

Published by Sian Elvin

Journalist and editor from the UK.

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