After you walk through the outer courtyard and head towards the main gate this is the view which greets you and your heart starts thumping and you get a goofy sorta grin on your face as it begins to dawn on you that you've finally made it, after all the travel and difficulties, you're only steps away from one of the great wonders of the world.
Then there it is, in all its splendor and white marble, the Taj Mahal. Built to be the eternal resting place of Shah Jahan's true love, Mumtaz. The story goes that the beloved Mumtaz died giving birth to her 16th child. No wonder Shah Jahan felt so bad and went to such lengths for the poor gal, he killed her by knocking her up 16 times, she must have spent her whole life pregnant!
The story goes that as Shah Jahan was advancing in years that he decided to build an identical Taj on the other side of the river from the original one only this one would be made entirely of black marble. His son, the heir to the throne, had other ideas since the building of the first one had all but bankrupt the kingdom (they say the price tag was somewhere in the billions of dollars in todays money) So the son placed the father under a kind of house arrest and forced him to live out the remainder of his days in an apartment built for him, out of marble of course, atop the walls of the Agra Fort which he was never allowed to leave. He apparently spent the last 7 years of his life gazing across the river at the Taj Mahal and mourning the loss of Mumtaz, his one true love.
Shah Jahan's marble apartment built on the walls of the Agra Fort facing across the Yamuna river to the Taj Mahal.
I dunno what the Indians call this critter but it looked to me like a squirrel accidentally humped a chipmunk and out popped this little guy.
Taj entry fee for foreigners - 750 Rupees (17.83 USD)
Taj entry fee for Indians - 20 Rupees (0.47 USD)
Does that seem fair to you? Now don't get me wrong, I'm familiar with the idea of a discount for locals but lets at least try to be a little equitable.