We woke up at 5am and prepare to get the entrance tickets before the sunrise. For some weird reason, the ticket is not sold at the entrance, but at ticket office 1.5km away from the east gate. There are about 2 dozen people there, but the office is yet to open. The clock is ticking and everyone getting anxious, and the crowd is building up too.
Around 5.45am, one officer came in and do his preparation work. He slowly take his own sweet time, stamping the ticket while chatting with others. Then a few Indian agents cut the queue and bought a few dozen tickets, which further frustrate us. The ticket price is RS 150, at least 6 times more expensive than other monuments, and the local only pays RS 20. We are supposed to be given a mineral water and shoe cover, but I couldn't see where to pick these items (others seem to be able for pick them up, perhaps we missed it somewhere due to the crowd.
Again, the rickshaw (non-auto) man trying to take advantage of our situation and charge us RS 50 for a short distance of 1.5km of flat road. We are running out of time for the sunrise and negotiated for RS 40. Along the way we try to ask for another RS 15 as tips, which frustrate us even further (all my sympathy and respect is lost for the poor rickshaw riders who ply the Taj Mahal route).
Our rickshaw is stopped by a guy and was told rickshaw could not proceed further, so we have to get down and walk the remaining 500m. The guy is actually a guide who persuade us to hire him while we walk towards the eastern gate. So we are pretty upset with this incident, as the restriction only apply to auto rickshaw.
The gate is not open yet, and there are a few dozen people queueing, and the staffs are taking their own sweet time as usual. The gate is open 10 minutes later, and everyone have to go through security check where food is not allowed (I have to throw my biscuit away, as I couldn't be bothered to store them at some storage area).
Video recording is not allowed at Taj Mahal, and there is a place to store your video cam for RS 25, which is totally necessary as no one is checking (just keep it in your bag will do).
Finally, the beautiful Tag appear blurry in front of us, not because of the morning mist, but due to smog and pollution. At 500m away, we still couldn't get a clear view of the Taj. The Taj Mahal is definitely the most beautiful and refined monument in India, with a equally beautiful landscape garden to enhance it's beauty.
The sky is bright by the time we get it, and we couldn't see the sun (probably due to the smog), so there is no sunrise (all the morning rush and anxiety for nothing). The sun had yet to shine on the Taj by 7am. The colour of Taj Mahal does turn golden slightly, but it didn't shine with a AWWW effect.
We walk slowly towards the marble compound, where we need to take off our shoe as we didn't have the shoe cover. Initially the ground and side buildings are red in colour. We could see the river at the back of Taj, with 20m of sand and rubbish. The trees beyond the river is covered by smog, the air is causing me to have a mild coughing. The ground is cool.;
The wall are well crafted with motive of beautiful flower, and the coloured flower and formed using semi-precious stones (not painted). In the centre of building is the tomb of Shah Jahan and his favourite wife, surrounded by beautiful wall of carving. Photography is not allowed inside (though it didn't stop most local tourist); it's slightly dark inside, and ;we are not allowed to us torchlight to have a better view of the artwork as well.
We spend a few hour admiring the Taj Mahal, which is still pretty nice and enjoyable despite all the rules and inconveniences and high prices.We have no time for Agra Fort or Baby Taj as our train depart at 10.30am, so we basically make a detour to Agra just for Taj Mahal. You can't visit India without seeing Taj Mahal, can you?