Wrapping up with the Taj Mahal in India

Our time in India was coming to an end and we needed to make our way back to Delhi to see the Taj Mahal and get our flight to Kathmandu. I was looking forward to the train ride, which was our second chance at taking one of the “toy trains” I mentioned in a previous post. It was a bright, clear morning when our train departed from Shimla. We shared our car with a tour group of Brits and some Indian families on vacation. The ride through the mountains was incredible.

Steve in the train compartment

The toy trains are short (only six compartments on ours) because they go through over 100 bridges and tunnels with many steep turns. They can’t go very fast because of this so it was a relaxing ride.

Our little train rolling through the mountains

When we finally got to Delhi around 11pm, we were tired and ordered an Uber to take us to the hostel. We were hoping to get a few hours of sleep before our sunrise tour of the Taj Mahal that was picking us up at 3am in the morning.

The end of the toy train line in Kalka where we had to transfer to a regular train to Delhi

On our way to the hostel, we realized how long we had been out of Delhi because the honking was non-stop again. Our driver was especially enthusiastic and it felt like he was honking at everyone. When he started to pull the car over to the side of the road, it dawned on us that he wasn’t intentionally honking at literally everyone. The car’s horn was stuck on. Even when he shut the car off at the side of the road at midnight in the middle of Delhi, the horn stayed on. Even when he slapped and punched the steering wheel, the horn stayed on.

He popped the hood and started tinkering around but I don’t think he knew what the issue was. Luckily, lots of people stopped to try to help. First the Dominos pizza delivery guy on a motorbike pulled up. They chatted over the noise for a few minutes but then he took off. Deliveries, right? Then the valet guy from a nearby hotel came over. Uber guy was on the phone at that point but he waved valet guy over to the hood so he started to tinker around. Then older guy in white tank top with pot belly came over and tried to help out. At this point we were wondering what to do. Do we call another Uber? Steve was googling how to fix a stuck horn on his phone. Finally, as we were debating our options, they worked some magic and got the horn to turn off. We got to the hostel without much else happening and 3 hours late we were up for our drive to Agra and the Taj Mahal! One of two main reasons for the inclusion of India in our itinerary in the first place.

Outside the entrance gate to the Taj Mahal

We had booked a private tour of the Taj using Viator because the timing of our train back from Shimla and flight to Kathmandu had left a short window for our visit. Our driver picked us up directly and the drive to Agra took three hours. We met out guide in Agra and by 7am we were looking at the iconic white marble palace we had come all that way for.

First view of the Taj

Our guide was a pretty funny guy and the “tour” actually ended up being more of a photo shoot with him directing us to various locations around the grounds and telling us what poses to strike. He did throw in some facts about the Taj but we were in and out in about an hour.

One of our gems from the photoshoot

I was surprised at how small the Taj was actually. It was beautiful but I think I was expecting something bigger and more mind-blowing. It was equally impressive as other monuments we had seen in India, like the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Yes, we did those photos.

After checking the Taj off our bucket list, we were ready to head to Nepal. We headed back to Delhi for our last night and the next day we flew to Kathmandu.

Yay! We made it!

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