Taj Mahal, India – Part 1 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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As a lasting monument to love, the Taj Mahal is one of the world’s most beautiful buildings. However, its very popularity has meant that a crowd-free visit to this legendary site requires careful planning. If not it will be it will be like a visit to Disney on Easter Sunday.
Any travel to India requires that you are up to date on routine vaccines. Make sure you take out good travel insurance and always practise good food and water hygiene.
You must have a Visa before you leave as these are required by UK nationals. There are three different costs depending on your country of birth. The UK is in the most costly band and a six-month tourist visa will cost around £100 if you use an agent. The agents charge about £25 but it can be worth it as Indian visas are often rejected for very small mistakes, you then need to apply again with another fee.
Getting there is fairly easy as there are several airlines which fly from the UK to Delhi. While there are direct flights from London Heathrow to Delhi you may want to consider using one of the Gulf airlines. They all other this route with a change of plane at their hub and sometimes there is a very good price saving. You also get to try the service on offer as they all compete for the same custom. The total journey time using this option is about 13 hours.
You then need to get a train, these run from Delhi to Agra Cantt station. The journey takes two hours and costs around £7.
The Taj Mahal is open from sunrise to sunset every day except Friday and entry costs around £10 for foreign visitors. Arrive as early as possible if you want to capture a crowd free classic image of the monument in front of the Lotus Pool. The Taj is also open for evening viewing once a month, on the full moon, check the dates if this is something that interests you. The entrance costs £10 and visits are limited to 30 minutes, between 8.30pm and 12.30am.
When you have seen all you want to move on and familiarise yourself with the history of Agraby by embarking on the City Heritage Walk. The 90 minute tour takes in 12 sights, including the Jama Masjid the ‘Friday mosque’, the Mankameshwar Temple and the Amar Singh Gate, which is the entrance to Agra Fort. Once you head inside this 16th-century rose red garrison, which is the city’s second UNESCO World Heritage site, you learn more about Mughal style. Within its 2. 5km long walls is a complex of buildings, such as the marble Khas Mahal hall and Sheesh Mahal baths, as well as mosques and pavilions.
If you have had enough culture change to nature at Wildlife SOS’s Bear Rescue facility just outside Agra. Entry costs £5 and allows you to see the little known sloth bear up close while hearing about the charity’s conservation efforts. Pay a small additional fee and you can also visit and feed the elephants at the neighbouring Elephant Haven.
However, as this was about the Taj Mahal I will now go through some of the things you should not miss seeing during your visit.
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