Taj Mahal, India

I Just Had The Crappiest Visit To The Taj Mahal

Derek India 77 Comments

Taj Mahal, India
The journey from Rishikesh to the world famous city of Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) was quite lengthy, taking us almost twelve hours to complete. This was partly due to the distance we needed to cover (400 kilometers) and partly due to the many stops we made along the way, which included lunch in the village of Shahpur and a quick stop in Delhi in order to drop off the three members of our group who had signed up for the shorter version of the Wandering Earl Tour.

But I personally didn’t mind the journey. After all, when the reward for such an exhausting trip is a visit to the magical Taj Mahal the following day, I certainly had no right to complain.

And so, soon after our arrival in Agra two evenings ago, I went to sleep excited about what the morning would bring. And when that morning did arrive, I awoke at 9:00am ready to catch my first glimpse of the Taj Mahal. I walked outside my room and started to climb the steps that led to the rooftop of our hotel, hoping to get a decent morning view of this magnificent structure from up there.

And what a view I had…

Toilet in Agra

That is right. I never made it to the rooftop. And I never made it to the Taj Mahal either. In fact, I never made it out of my room that day at all, instead alternating between short naps and frequent trips to my beloved bathroom, with plenty of moaning and nausea thrown into the mix as well.

I had been hit with a case of the Delhi belly, aka ‘severe stomach issues’, just as I began to walk up those steps. As soon as it happened I knew that it was my fault. I had eaten something during lunch the day before that I had a feeling would make me sick, but out of politeness towards our hosts, I ate as much as I could.

Well, the result wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fun. I ended up spending thirty-two out of the thirty-six hours we were in Agra holed up in that hotel room, and probably half of that time sitting on the toilet cursing myself, among other things.

That’s India my friends. If you’re not careful, there can be consequences.

Luckily, I was all better after a day and a half (and after a few doses of Ciprofloxacin) but unfortunately, it was too late. I had missed the Taj Mahal this time around. There was no time for me to visit as we had to leave Agra early this morning for the full day journey to the Rajasthani town of Bundi.

So, while the rest of the group had a great time at the Taj, the only thing I’ll remember about our stay in Agra is that damn toilet and the significant amount of time I spent on it.

(The first photo is from an earlier visit to India when I did make it to the Taj without getting sick!)

Have you been to the Taj Mahal? Is it on your list of places you want to visit?

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Comments 77

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  4. Ahh that’s too bad Earl, at least you’ve already seen it, and one day will hopefully be lucky enough to see it again!

    1. @RunAwayHippie – I’m already thinking of taking a trip back to Agra in a couple of days now that I’m in Delhi again…so I’m sure I’ll see it again before I leave India this time!

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  6. Hey Earl,

    It’s sad that you couldn’t see the Taj, because of this. But like you always say, it’s these experiences that makes the journey unforgettable. Have you not been sick, you’d have gone with many other thousand visitors and seen the Taj, and it would have been the same old story of “been there seen that”. but now you have a different story to tell 😉


    1. Hey Sunil – I sure do have a different story and also, since I saw the Taj Mahal before on a different visit, I was perfectly okay with missing it this time around.

  7. Glad to hear you’re fine again. Is Cipro the only medicine you take in case of stomach issues?

    I once had a food poisoning in the Caribbean. And it had been from a clean, legitimate restaurant! So you can never know. It was very painful and lasted for 3 days… had to see a doctor who gave me an infusion. Don’t remember the name but it made things much better quickly. Had I had Cipro at hand the recovery process might have been quicker, maybe.

    I often enjoy street food when traveling and never had any problems so far. A business that is popular with the locals is usually safe.

    1. Hey Andy – I normally stick to Cipro…but I only take it if I feel that something is really wrong, not just if I have a little diarrhea. But when I do take it, after two doses, I start to feel much, much better.

  8. Happened to me in Cambodia and again in Laos. I realized that the filtration system is non-existent in two of the places I was, meaning our water to brush our teeth and shower came straight from the Mekong. Hmmm. In my mouth. Yeah. Gross.

  9. Oh No! I thought you had conquered it all;-). But I must say you are courageous enough to try street food in a foreign country. While growing up my parents did a major brainwashing against street food. And till today I greedily look at it, drool over it but cannot make myself to eat it, not even in my home country.
    However, glad to know that the tour guide is all set to carry on with the rest of the tour!

    1. Hey Kanja – I actually got sick from a home cooked meal in someone’s house in a tiny village, not from street food. I’ve always eaten street food in India, on every visit over the past 12 years, and I don’t think it has ever made me sick!

  10. Brings back good memories of India. I did manage to see the Taj, how I brought 250 imodium to India with me. Excessive maybe but I tell you what, I think I probably used at least 100.

    1. Hey George – That’s a lot of immodium. I generally avoid taking that stuff as it just blocks you up and doesn’t deal with the actual problem. Cipro goes in and kills the bacteria which, at least for me, helps me return to normal much more quickly.

  11. To be perfectly honest… the Taj Mahal was overpriced in my eyes. $15 each to see it. It’s very crowded, usually hot, and I can think of a lot of other things worth doing. We were there during the “Holi” festival and we had way more fun playing in the streets with the kids. Also, the key to no Dehli belly is lots of water, more than you would ever imagine drinking. (8 bottles a day ish) Serious!

    1. Hey Meg – I’m a fan of the Taj myself but I do know that a lot of people think it’s not worth the money. And drinking a lot of water while in India is good advice although, there was someone on my tour who did just that and still was hit with stomach issues. There is no perfect formula to avoid it completely but many methods do help limit the risk.

  12. Oh man, the same thing happened to me and my friends! I was lucky enough to be able to stay in Agra until I was well enough to go to the Taj, but one of my friends got well just in time to catch the train. So sad! And this after we followed the guidebook’s advice and only ate at recommended places!

    1. Hey Amy – I think it’s okay to eat in most places in India as long as it looks clean and the food is prepared fresh. I’ve rarely had a problem in my 10 visits to this country but this time, I felt obliged to eat something that had clearly gone bad. Not a brilliant move on my part 🙂

  13. Sorry to hear that Earl, not a nice thing at all but all part of the India experience I imagine 🙂
    I’m heading there for my first time next year and am anticipating that getting sick at some point is almost an inevitability. You said you had a feeling what you ate would make you sick though – intrigued to know why that was? (mostly so I know what to look out for when I’m there!)

    Enjoy the rest of your trip!

    1. Hey Natalie – It definitely can be part of the Indian experience. And I just knew because the dish was cold, it was spinach (which goes bad easily), it tasted a bit off and it was covered in ghee (clarified butter). If you follow your gut feelings when it comes to eating in India, you should avoid going through what I went through!

  14. I had “Hamburg Belly” a year ago as I tried various sausages…it took 4 days of my precious holiday. one should be very careful in food on holidays, if you are in India or in Canada.
    I wonder why “Bombay Belly” is not that much famous though the street food is just crap.

  15. I sympathize. Eating in India is always close to playing russian roulette. I’m sorry but isin’t a bit funny that the tour guide got sick but not the rest of the group? One could say you are so dedicated you took the hit for your people 😉

    At least you had seen the Taj before (I would guess more than once in your many trips to India). That was a long detour for a crap!

    1. Hey Andre – Who said the rest of the group didn’t get sick? 🙂 There have been some stomach problems on this trip with the group but I don’t want to mention that as I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate it too much!

    1. Hey James – So I guess you just used the toilet at the Taj itself, giving you a different view I guess. Glad you got to see it though…would have been a shame to miss the Taj if you haven’t seen it before.

  16. Haha it definitely sounds like you’re in India. Near the middle of my trip I started surviving on toast and jam. I think I ate about 4 pieces of bread a day – lost a lot of weight, too.

    Food was one of the biggest draws for me but ultimately, unless you’re a local, it can lead to bad, bad situations…

    Did you take travel diarrhea medicine beforehand?

    1. @Expat Even – I didn’t take anything before hand as I rarely get sick while in India. This time I knew I was going to get sick from what I ate in that village but apart from that, I’m fine with the food I eat over here.

  17. How awful, but at least you had seen the Taj Mahal before. I imagine it would be much worse if it was your first time there! I want to visit India so badly and I fear getting sick most of all. Best of luck with the rest of your India travels!

    1. Hey Sarah – Exactly…having seen it before made it an easier decision to stay inside this time. And don’t worry about getting sick here…just use common sense and avoid places that look a bit sketchy and the risk of getting sick will be much lower!

  18. Aw, *hug* now that “stinks” but at least you have Cipro w/you. stock up as you go… it’s good for a quite a few things – looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip.

  19. Well, could be worse, right? I hear some of the food/water related illnesses there can last for over a week; this certainly would have put a cramp in your style! At least you can say that everything came out alright in the end… 🙂

    1. Hey Travis – Things can be much worse over here so I am glad this was a quick one. Although, if you pop a couple of doses of Cipro, that generally gets you on the road to recovery quite quickly.

    1. Hey Jennifer – As it should…in my opinion the Taj is well worth a visit and it lives up to most people’s expectations.

  20. That’s too bad … hope you feel better.
    One thing to look out for in curries is to see if it has an excessive amount of ginger … it is usually in the form of strips … Restaurants add it to make to reduce the harmful effects of stale food. If you see strips of ginger, skip it!

    Take care,

    1. Hey Madhu – Thank you for that tip…never heard it before but I shall keep my eyes out for too much ginger from now on.

  21. On the positive side, you got the toilet all to yourself, no heckling or over-crowded streets, and you got to spend some quality time with another while tiled wonder.

    Not sure if it’s about being careful with Delhi belly, just seems to be if you’re doomed, you’re doomed! 🙂

    1. Hey Andrew – Hmmm…actually, I didn’t have the toilet all to myself as there was someone else quite sick as well while we were in Agra. That made it all even more interesting.

  22. Hi Earl,

    So sorry you have had to miss the Taj due to a stomach bug.
    A friend of mine had the bug even till today, one week after she got back, because she had water from an unsealed mineral bottle!

    I was lucky during my trip to India because i had my fiance with me and he has been to India many times, so we knew what we can take and what we can’t. Better luck next time (-:


    1. Hey Cindy – I almost never get sick while over in India during my many previous visits but I definitely ate something that I knew I shouldn’t have. Had I not done that, I would be fine for sure!

  23. I’ve never been to India so I can’t say that I’ve had a case of Delhi Belly yet but back in 2003 I was hospitalized with a severe case of food poisoning and had a suspected case of salmonella poisoning earlier this year so I felt for you big time when I was reading your story.

    I don’t know what the culture is like in India but if I tasted some food that didn’t taste right I would just leave it on my plate and say that I was full.

    More importantly though, you’re alright now. You can always see the Taj Mahal another time.

    1. Hey Matthew – Yes, that would have been a good idea to leave the food on my plate but I really didn’t want to offend the hosts who went out of their way to prepare an entire meal for my group. So it was a tough call, but at least the illness didn’t last too long.

      I have a feeling your situations with food poisoning and salmonella poisoning might have been much worse!

  24. Oh man. I’m about to drive a rickshaw through India (during the January 2013 Rickshaw Run with none other than the lovely Sarah Somewhere who commented above) and I FEAR that this will happen at some point when I need to be on that rickshaw. I think I might eat crackers for those two weeks just to make sure!s

    1. Hey Kim – I wouldn’t worry about it too much…just eat at places that are full of locals eating and make sure what you eat is freshly prepared. That should generally keep you safe from the Delhi belly! And I wish you both luck with the Rickshaw Run…should be amazing!

  25. OMG Earl!!!
    Crappiest visit being the key words!!! That sucks large and I am so sorry for you! The Taj! I would be sobbing into my dahl! What did you eat? What did this to you? The Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple and the Sunderbands are my fantasy reasons for a trip to India. My heart goes out to you, you poor thing. Hope you feel better soon.

    1. Hey Mary – Luckily I’d been before so it wasn’t so terrible. And it was just a bad spinach (palak) dish that I ate…I knew it would happen but ate it anyway!

  26. I was getting over a case of Delhi Belly while at the Taj. Great that you got over the sickness so soon. Smart to carry around the Ciprofloxacin. Have fun with all of those crazy monkeys at the Taragarh Fort in Bundi. What a magical place.

    1. Hey Mike – Just got back down from the fort a few hours ago…the monkeys weren’t as bad this time around. I remember the last time I was here I had to fight them off with a stick but this time there were only a few and they kept away luckily.

  27. Oh dear Earl! Sorry to hear that, there’s really nothing worse, is there? But thankfully it ‘passed’ (excuse the pun!) quickly and you are back to normal. Thanks for the timely reminder to stock up on some of those pills before my trip to India in December 🙂

    1. Hey Sarah – Yes, carrying some of those pills with you is always a good idea. And it’s amazing how well they work…after a couple of doses I was feeling quite well again.

  28. I’d like to know what you ate too. I got sick in India when I was there… No fun. Spent a 24-hour train ride lying down most of the time and taking trips to the train’s toilet. I was fortunate enough to see the Taj on a day that I wasn’t sick back in March. Beautiful!

    1. Hey Alexa – It was just some cold spinach dish (palak paneer) that I think was quite old and had gone ‘off’. But it didn’t last long…I was sick just for that day and a half and then back to normal.

  29. In the photo of the bathroom ….I really like ALL the empty toilet paper rolls on back of the toilet a testament to the trouble you were in……………….I’ve been there, you can only laugh (later) and after it makes for a story.

  30. So sorry to hear that, Earl! Taj Mahal was the first destination I ever dreamed of visiting. I hope to make that dream come true very soon!

    Can you tell us what you ate? What are things that our weak American stomachs should avoid? And did you have medication on you or did you have to seek it out?

    1. Elizabeth, it’s often advised to carry antibiotics when traveling. I took some on my backpacking trip in SE Asia and fortunately never need them. I was able to get colloidal silver in Bali which solved the problem quickly without antibiotics.

    2. Hey Elizabeth – We had stopped in a very tiny village and the meal we were offered (by the family of a friend of mine) included a spinach dish which was cold. Spinach can go bad very quickly over here and as soon as I tasted it, I had a feeling that it was ‘off’. At the end of the day, if you stick to food that is freshly prepared, you’ll have a much, much lower risk of suffering from any stomach issues.

      And I just got the medication from a pharmacy…everything is available here without a prescription 🙂

  31. Ha! Oh dear, it happens to us all in India at some point! At least you’ve seen the Taj Mahal before. Stu and I plan to visit it before we leave India in 5 weeks time. We’ve been recommended to make the effort to get there early about 5am to beat the crowds and to get good photos. Not looking forward to the early rise!

    1. Hey Eloise – I actually like the Taj with the crowds as it is full of colorful saris, which certainly adds to the atmosphere!

  32. wow, all your extensive travel and you haven’t seen the Taj yet?? I managed to stay 3 weeks in India without stomach problems. I was pretty impressed with myself, and I did get to see the Taj Mahal!

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