Taj Mahal, Indian home cooking and a packed day of the sights of Agra, India

We have breakfast at Ali’s house. Ali is the guy helping us with all of your transport here in Agra. He has a nice sized home is a busy neighbourhood. His wife has cooked us a traditional Indian breakfast, which is served on the rooftop. The food is fantastic. We are served a selection of chai, coffee, sweet fried items, paneer naan, breads, mild spicy potato curry, fruit and endless toast. Everyone is amazed by the food. Ali had also offered us dinner at this house, and we were a bit unsure, but after breakfast everyone was more than keen to eat such good home cooked Indian food again.

Most people saw the Taj Mahal at sunrise, but Rob, Barbara and I had a lie in, and head off to the Taj after breakfast. The womens queue is short and Barbara goes straight in, but Rob and I cue for about 20 minutes. Once inside we are amazed. All of the buildings within the complex are stunning. Of course the Taj Mahal takes pride of place. We wander around for just over an hour. The inside is not as spectacular as I had imagined.

Afterwards our tuk tuk takes us to the Red Fort. It’s a massive building that at first doesn’t look too inviting. But, once we are inside we find seemingly endless mosques of beautiful white marble and decorated roofs and ceilings. We wander for an hour or so before getting back in the tuk tuk and heading back to the Taj Mahal. We wander around, get some supplies and grab a drink.

We decide what to do and head to the main market. It is a crazy bustling place, full of exciting sights sounds and just about anything you could want to buy. We grab some samosas and rob gets a shave. We looks a bit worried during it, as I would, but the end result is good.

We take a drive out to the Baby Taj Mahal, but the rain starts to fall and we don’t go in. On the way a guy slides of his moped, and a truck hits a car. I’m also given the job of signalling out the side of the tuk tuk.

Our last stop is the Taj Mahal sunset viewing point across the river from the monument. The weather is cloudy, but the rain has stopped and we get some nice pictures. We speak with a few kids, who do the normal thing of asking for money. We catch up with the tuk tuk driver and have some chai with him. I love these real local experiences.

Today has been a great day. As well as the classic tourist experience of the Taj Mahal, we have seen Agra at real street level. All of the hustle, bustle, tastes, flavours and smells. This is the difference in experience one can have when getting away from the tourist tours and places.

I wasn’t particularly looking forward to Agra. It’s a much newer city than Agra and Varanasi, but I’ve had a fantastic time here.

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