A little less than a month ago, Justin blogged about that the Taj Mahal closing due to the threat of religious riots in Agra. At the time, it was unclear about how long the Taj Mahal would close. It opened a few days later, although it seems that Agra remains a city where you should watch your back. Not in a totally paranoid kind of way, but like you would in any large city where the tourist dollar is highly regarded and the general population is relies heavily on that money.
When I was looking for info to see if the Taj Mahal had indeed reopened like I heard it had from a tech guy in India who was helping me get my computer in shape, I found this article that was posted just today. Wow, timely. According to the news, two Japanese female tourists were drugged and raped last week in Agra, something, of course, folks in India are appalled by. The men have been arrested.
Like Justin, the only time I ever felt a bit on edge when traveling in India was when we went to the Taj Mahal. The slew of people trying to sell you stuff between the taxi park and the Taj Mahal entrance is a bit overwhelming. We just kept plowing on through them though. I didn’t feel like anyone was going to hurt me, but simple nos and moving on wasn’t as effective as I would have liked.
Once inside the Taj Mahal, the experience turned into pure delight. Its status as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World is totally deserving. If you go, hire a guide because you’ll find out things about the architecture and history you might miss otherwise. Also, spring for the photographer. We didn’t and I regret it. First of all, getting a photographer to snap photos of you isn’t expensive, but once I found out how cheap it was, we didn’t have time to get the pictures taken and developed by the time we left. One favorite shot is standing in just the right spot so it looks like you are touching the top of the Taj Mahal with your finger. This photo by premasagar on Flickr is another optical illusion option.