Saturday 28th January, 2012: (Tour Day 8)
Our final tour day was for sightseeing at the Taj Mahal in Agra. Again, security at this world famous place was very tight – metal detectors, personal pat downs, no candy or gum, no sharp objects, no religious items, etc.) and we had to wear special shoe covers in the main building. Strangely we also had to take a battery bus for the last 500 metres. It was an anti-pollution measure, but the local residents were exempt. Really, for such a short distance, it would have been simpler to walk.
Another minor disaster stuck - my camera's battery was dead, so I couldn't take any photos of the Taj. At least I'll be able to share ones from other travel buddies.
The Taj Mahal is truly amazing. It deserves the accolade of one of the seven wonders of the modern world. It took 22 years to build, having been completed in 1653 CE on the banks of the Yamuna River. It is finished in marble, and features inlays of semi-precious stones, rather than paint, to provide colour. We got a group photo taken to recall the day. I spent as much time as possible walking around the British-planned gardens, the mosque next to it, and the main mausoleum (which houses the tombs of Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal).
From there, we took the train back to Delhi, arriving around 17:30. There were lots of hugs and kisses as we parted company and we received our earlier group photo from the tour leader. Since I hadn't arranged anything specifically and Erin was taking a complimentary cab to her hotel (which was within 500 metres of mine), I shared a lift with her. I will miss Erin. She was a great travelling companion.
This time I got a better quality room which faced the side street, so it was much quieter as well. After dinner in the hotel, I had a short walk around and dropped into an Internet café to check my email, mainly out of curiosity. There were 96 items in the inbox and about 11 spam messages, so I just closed it and left.