Our Golden Triangle tour set off from Delhi and after an hour or two in the car we stopped at a roadside cafe for breakfast, while our driver had something for free in another room, in fact this happened everywhere we ate. Drivers normally arrange with the restaurants that they will eat for free if they bring customers in. We then got back on the modern road towards our destination. We arrived at Agra a few hours later and we parked at the tomb of the third Moghul Emperor, Akbar the Great, where we met our guide. He showed us round and explained some of the history of the Moghul king who built it, and his three wives (one Muslim, one Hindu and one Christian).
We were then taken to a restaurant for lunch, before heading to the star attraction, the Taj Mahal. We entered from a beautiful red-brick courtyard on the west and our first view of the marble masterpiece was through a stunning pointed archway. We were encouraged to hire a local photographer, and we obliged. He got us posing in numerous positions, both romantic and more lighthearted, and even sat us on Diana’s bench, which she used in her famous visit in 1992. As we climbed the steps up to the mausoleum the cameraman had to wait behind and our guide took over. He explained about the inlayed precious stones, that the Emperor Shah Jahan built it for his wife and the cancellation of the Black Taj across the river. The site is grand and magnificent. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip!
We were then taken to Agra fort, but as we had seen the Red fort in Delhi we decided to leave it. Afterwards we went to a workshop/shop where we saw how they cut, polish and inlay the stones. We were then taken to a carpet showroom and jewelers selling star of India jewels that shine different colours, but again we decided to save our money and not buy anything. Our guide then left us and wanted a tip, but we didn’t give him much, which annoyed him a little. Sometimes guids and other people can be quite rude when it comes to tips, we just ignore them and leave. Some of them will always want more money. Later we were driven to a hotel (chosen by our tour operator) which was simple, but the room was large with an ensuite, and high ceilings. Next day we drove to Jaipur stopping at Fatehpur Sikri on the way (see Jaipur page).