2 Weeks in India | Day Trip to Agra & Video Diary

On our fourth day in India, we booked a car hire to take us from Delhi to Agra so we could visit the iconic Taj Mahal. I'm pretty sure whenever I told anyone at home I was heading to India, they asked if we were doing the Taj; it's definitely what most people think of when they think of India.
It was certainly one of the highlights of my trip. I feel like it was one of those places that could've potentially been ruined by overhyping. I thought for sure that it would look uglier up close or end up being disappointing but instead, it was just so much better in person and I actually feel like my photos do not do it justice in the slightest.

Our hotel was kind enough to pack us little breakfasts to go, which included a few donuts, a juice box, and some fruit.
We left our hotel around 2AM so that we would arrive in Agra by 6 and make it to the Taj as it opened. Agra itself was kind of depressing because it was a stark contrast to Delhi. There were kids warming themselves over garbage fires, cows wandering the streets, and a lot of litter in the streets. I don't think that this is a town I would want to spend much time in.
A tour guide met us at the entrance, which we sort of assumed was part of the package deal of hiring our car. However, as it turned out, he was just some greasy, schmoozy guy and we had to basically yell at him to leave us alone. He tried to threaten us by saying, "Well, how will you contact the driver then?" I guess he didn't know that we had our driver's contact information. He was an ass.

This was the first time I saw monkeys roaming around as if they were just squirrels. They were cute!
We had to queue up for tickets, which were ₹1,000 ($15) per person for foreigners; this included a bottle of water and little bootie shoe covers. Then, we had to separate ourselves by gender and by whether or not we were foreigners and then we queued up to have our tickets scanned and have our bags searched. I brought my little clutch that I'd purchased at the Central Cottage Industries Emporium and my camera separately on its strap and they didn't even bother searching it. I highly recommend bringing as little with you as possible to make this process go more quickly and smoothly.
We enjoyed the sun rising as we made our way through the queues.
Before we ditched our tour guide, I learned that the Taj was built as a tomb for Shah Jahan's favorite wife who died during childbirth. It's made of a gorgeous white marble with incredibly ornate, supremely extra decorations, and it is just magnificent in person. Seriously, my photos are garbage. And even though I knew they were garbage, I took maybe 4,289 and I'm sharing a bunch of them; I don't know why I'm even bothering.
To actually walk on the marble and inside the Taj, you must wear little bootie covers over your shoes. This is an effort to protect the delicate marble.
Up close, you can see the beautiful details and it's pretty overwhelming to think they did this with no help from modern day machines, like laser cutters or anything requiring electricity.
We sat around, just enjoying ourselves and people watching for a while. I highly recommend hitting this place up first thing in the morning because it's much more peaceful, the air is crisper, and the way the light hits the marble as the sun is rising is just mesmerising (mesmeRISING).
After we'd had our fill of the Taj Mahal, we called our driver and he took us to Agra Fort. Admission for foreigners is ₹500 ($7.50).
This place is humongous and beautiful and a great place to visit to get away from the touristy crowds. I'm sure this place gets crowded sometimes but I think everyone else was at the Taj Mahal and there were only a handful of people here.
I feel like this place is so tranquil and beautiful and I don't quite understand why a fort would need to be this ornate and gorgeous, but I'm glad it is.
When we'd had our fill of Agra, we decided to make our way back to Delhi. We'd booked an early evening flight so we decided to head back early enough to get a meal before needing to go back to the airport. We loved our driver so much. He was really sweet, he protected our bags (which we'd brought with us because we had to check out of the hotel and head to the airport after our excursion), and he drove us around safely. He was called Madan and if anyone needs a driver in Delhi, let me know and I'll send you his information.

He charged us ₹7,500 ($113) for basically 12 hours to drive 450 km and also wait around a bunch for spoiled Americans to be tourists, which I found insane. We were initially quoted ₹11,000 ($166) and since we were prepared to pay that much, we gave him a generous 20% tip of ₹1,500 ($23), which is not much to us but hopefully a nice little bonus for him. The part that killed me was the fact that he told us the price, we gave him the full amount plus tip, and he made a face at us like, "Wow, you're so dumb," and repeated that the price of ₹7,500. And when we told him, "No, that's for you. Thanks so much," he had the biggest grin on his face. It made us really happy.
For late lunch we headed to Masala House and bid adieu to our awesome driver.
Our final meal in Delhi was quite delicious. We decided to get the dum ki dal (lentils in a red sauce), pulao with morel mushrooms, and murgh taka tak (chicken with a tomato-based sauce). It was delicious! The rice in particular was a hit for me. I loved drizzling the cooling raita on top and the morels were delicious.
We finished our meal with a cappuccino each for D and J and a masala chai for me.
With full bellies, we called an uber to the airport to embark on our next destination.

Here's the video diary: