Sleep deprivation has become the rule rather than the exception. I haven’t had more than 5 hours of solid sleep since I left New York. But this trip is so short and there is so much to see, that getting by on less is an unfortunate necessity.
The wake up call for the Taj Mahal visit came at 4:45am. At exactly 5:30am everyone congregated out in front of the hotel in the darkness and boarded horse buggies that took us to the Taj. The Clarks Shiraz hotel is only a couple of miles so the trip was pretty quick and it was just starting to get light when we arrived.
The tour guide told us that no matter how high our expectations were for the Taj we wouldn’t be disappointed, and he was right. The Taj is one of the worlds iconic structures. And similar to my experience when I first saw the Pyramids of Giza, standing in front of the Taj Mahal was a fairly surreal moment.
After the visit to the Taj, we went back to the hotel for breakfast – a beautiful buffet of mostly Indian cuisine though there were a few standbys for westerners with more delicate tastebuds. I choose to have a freshly made crepe stuffed with a mixture something like Alloo Gobhi (potatoes, cauliflower and ginger) and a portion of Bhaji (potatoes with a lot of spices like garlic, ginger, chilies, tumeric, coriander and cumin) – yum!
The rest of the day was filled to the brim seeing the other sights of Agra – the Agra Fort, Sikranda and Itmad-ud-daulah (sometimes referred to as the Baby Taj).