So, I got up at 04:45 and was out the door ten minutes later, to be
startled by, and startle, the porter who was on his way to get me. My
ride had appeared early. So we went to the station, where I figured
things out pretty well, and got on the train at exactly the right place.
It was in a very nice car, with AC and even laptop power points, and they served a good breakfast with tea, cereal and paneer cutlets, as well as giving us a liter of water. when we arrived, I confounded the people who were meeting me by coming out the least likely exit (it looked obvious to me), so had to search for them. We found each other at the main entrance, and set off for the Taj Mahal. The gate is imposing, and hides the tomb itself until you actually enter the grounds, at which the sight of it hit me like a hammer. It really is incredible. I just stood and stared. We approached slowly with my guide giving me just the right amount of information. When we finally entered the floor above the actual crypts, which have replicas, since you can no longer go down to them, the mood was broken by people, mostly children, who persisted in yelling to hear the echoes. My thought is that only prayers should be allowed to be spoken in there, and the echoes would just multiply them.
We walked around for another couple of hours, then went to the Agra Red Fort. It's interesting enough, but the best part of it is the views of the Taj Mahal. By then it was getting hot and bright, so I allowed myself to be taken to shops, where I spent a little money on a bit of marble with inlays, but bought no rugs, fabrics, or jewelry. I stated up front that it was very unlikely I'd buy anything, but would look with real interest. I had a pretty good lunch, of more paneer, pilau and lassi. So now, I'm hanging out, keeping cool, and nodding off.
I'll go watch the sunset on the Taj, and then catch the train at 20:23 back to Delhi, two hours later.