Asia

Sunrise at the Taj Mahal, the cistern of Abhaneri and Shekhawati

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At six o'clock as we asked, Mahendra was waiting for us at the door of our accommodation, to be first at the door of the Taj Mahal. When we left it was still night and we drove through the dark streets of Agra. He Taj Mahal opens its doors from Saturday to Thursday when the sun rises, in summer around 6 am and in winter at 7am. We left the car parked on a street full of hotels and walked for about 15 minutes through a park to the entrance, as traffic around the monument has been restricted.

Upon arriving at the box office there were about 50 tourists queuing and the sun was already starting to rise, but the box office was still closed. At the end about 7.15 am they opened the box office and we went to buy the tickets worth 750 rupees (€ 12) per beard and as a gift a small bottle of water and a fabric cover for shoes.

About 20 meters from the ticket office was the entrance with two lines, one for men and one for women. When entering, you have to pass a security check in which it is not allowed to enter lighters, drinks, or food and strangely do not allow the entry of batteries. After arguing with the watchwoman about why the flashlight confiscated me, in the end I got her to just confiscate the batteries and we entered the enclosure.

Luckily there were few people, we crossed the entrance and there was majestic, surrounded by a fog that gave it a magical and unreal air. We stood there in front of the fountain taking pictures, tens, hundreds among the three. Gradually I approached, walking on the side around the monument to see it from all possible angles. I put the cloth booties on my shoes and climbed the stairs that brought you closer to the mausoleum. A mole of white marble, of an unimaginable immensity. The space is so large that the barely 100 people who should be there at that early hour barely bothered us.

He Taj Mahal It was completed in 1653 and the remains of Mumtaz Mahal, who died by lighting his fourteenth offspring. Her husband, Sha Yahan, was so distressed by her loss that she ordered the construction of the most beautiful mausoleum in the world. The most beautiful and the most photographed, in fact even the most filmed since there is no Bollywood film that boasts that it does not roll in the Taj the scene of turn romance of its protagonists.

I liked Taj Mahal a lot, I liked being there almost alone visiting him, the one that was surrounded by fog, the sun's rays reflecting on their slabs and their magnificence, but even if I earn millions of detractors for the following statement I have to say no It's what I liked most about my trip to India, I'm sorry. It did not impact me in the sense that you have come to see it so many times, you have read so many times the story of its creation that really did not surprise me, I liked it and a lot, but I already knew what there was and when there was no surprise factor Well, I was a little cold (like the day). I also recommend that everyone go and see it because it is spectacular.

Around this great place a city has grown, Agra, in which sellers, tuk tuks, shops, hotels and even American fast food chains try to make their August with the tourists who are passing through. Because that's what there is, as unfortunately for the delay of the train, they go, they take their picture in the Taj Mahal and they return to their coach until the next stop. Agra is ugly, chaotic and seemingly without any charm. Sorry, the seemingly charmless is all that surrounds a few kilometers around the Taj Mahal, because I am sure that Agra has many hidden charms, charms that I will have to discover on another visit.

After leaving Taj Mahal, we went to the hotel where Mahendra was waiting for us. He took us to our hotel to collect our bags and have some breakfast and we headed to the Shekhawati region. Mahendra's story is one of those that leave you freaking out. A few years ago Marta and Enric, good friends of mine, went on a trip to India. After having a disagreement with the initial driver they had hired, they finally hired a new one days before going there through a French woman living in Delhi. The woman introduced them to Mahendra, who took them during her journey through Rajasthan. To which the days went by and the friendship grew, they dared to ask them about Mahendra's relationship with the French lady and he replied: «the day before you arrived in Delhi, I was driving my taxi through the city and a French woman stopped me and asked if I was interested in taking two tourists through the Rajasthan ».

When Marta and Enric returned home, they recommended it to so many people and those people to other people, that Mahendra currently has 8 chauffeurs who work for him and basically dedicate themselves to bringing Spanish tourists throughout Rajasthan. His son is in college and his daughter preparing to study medicine. He is the living example of the burgeoning middle class of India.

Although from that story, the image that stuck in my brain was that of a French lady stopping a taxi ambassador in the middle of the streets of Delhi, a simple gesture changed that driver's life. What life is.

When I contacted Mahendra, we already had the whole trip and all the hotels closed, except for the small route we wanted to do in the Shekhawati area. What was a real shame because he has many contacts with hotels and takes them out with discounts and if we had not bought the train tickets it is possible that we would have spent more days with him. Do not misunderstand me, going by train in India is not bad, but the freedom and comfort of going with a driver is priceless.

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