March 02, 2016 – Agra
After spending two days in Delhi, my friends and I were driven to Agra. We arrived in the city on March 1st. However, it was too late to visit the Taj so we opted for a morning visit the following day. We spent the afternoon sightseeing and shopping. We purchased white marble deities and jewelry. Agra is famous for its precious jewels and quality marble inlay work.
Initially, we wanted to do a sunrise visit (based on reviews claiming that the view is beautiful at that hour) but our guide Gaurav Gard suggested that we visit later, around 8:30 A.M. He explained that at sunrise the monument is crowded with tourists and that the morning fog obstructs the view. We took his advice, and arranged our trip to the Taj at a later hour.
While in Delhi, we purchased traditional Indian outfits to wear on the day of our Taj Mahal excursion. That morning, I woke up extra early and watched several YouTube tutorials on how to wear a sari. One tutorial claimed it would help me get dressed in three minutes. Yeah right! A full hour later I was still struggling. Frustrated, I wrapped yards and yards of cloth around my waist only to hate the way they hung on my body and then do and undo everything again and again. I finally gave up on trying to dress myself and made my way down to the lobby. Half naked and very embarrassed, I humbly asked a young Indian female front desk clerk to please help me get dressed. She found it hilarious, but was very sweet and quickly ushered me into the ladies room before anyone could see me. She wrapped, pinned, and draped me beautifully. I looked in the mirror and gasped. I felt like an Indian princess. Proudly, I applied kumkum on my third eye and lined my other two eyes with rich black Kohl.
When we arrived at the monument, many people were leaving and we had several great photo opportunities. The weather was sunny and the morning fog had completely cleared. Our day went just as he had predicted, perfect!
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