It's true, you can go 'round Agra in a day even if I chose to do otherwise. I've always been smitten by the thought of Taj Mahal and took my time sitting there and just staring at it. I once read that the special thing about Taj Mahal is that you sit there the whole day and you'll see the beautiful theoretically white structure turn from pink to blue to yellow to orange and to green. Well, not in that specific order.
So the day before Lovely joined me in Agra, I spent half a day checking if this were true. And... It is! I saw it reflect different colors!... through my camera by changing the white balance. :) Maybe one has to spend more time just staring or else glaring at Taj Mahal until it does reflect another color.
Anyway, the day Lovely came, we started our tour at 9 in the morning walking from our hotel to the ticketing office and finally into the east gate of the complex. There were no attendants by the gate and so our tickets remain intact (any friend going can ask for my ticket and save himself Rs 750!). Do not bother bringing any tripods/gorillapods. It's not allowed in most sites, and they do check on this strictly, especially going in the Taj Mahal complex. This is where I learned to use a mineral water bottle as tripod. :)
Lovely's valentine gift for me is hiring a photographer to take our pictures with Taj Mahal as our backdrop. I'd say I can take pictures as good as he can (He did gush at some pictures we took! I don't think he was just patronizing us since this was after we paid. ;p) There's one advantage of hiring one. That's they bully people to leave so that you're the only one in the pictures. :)
These aren't actually pictures I took. I did brave a shot (which turned out blurry) and got shouted at by a security personnel. i've noticed that Indians do that a lot when they catch someone doing something they shouldn't.
After visiting Taj Mahal, we met Laki (now using a tuktuk with his friend) met us outside our hotel to take us around Agra and to the train station for Rs 300.00 ( He first offered his rickshaw services for only Rs 50 the one which we agreed to. We paid anyway -yes, after the trip and not before the end- pegging it as part charity. We did a lot of charity giving in India. -_- And he did give me ride home from the theater last night for free -a relative term in India- saying I could've walked but that would be dangerous for a lone woman. )
Meals in India are mostly consisted of roti or another form of bread (which they have so many variants of) and dips (which they have so many variants of also.) This is the reason why I lost so much weight during this trip for a change.
Agra Fort is worth a visit even though it is small because completes the story of Shah Jahan. There's no excuse not to visit, it costs Rs 50 only and not far from Taj Mahal anyway.
Last stop was what they call the Baby Taj for a minimal fee since they give out no ticket at all.
Looking back, Agra is a wonderful place which seems peaceful and sane. It's the people in the city that makes it such a mental place in an endearing way (although costly!).