(photo courtesy of Archer10)
Someone sent me a link recently to explore the Taj Mahal virtually. Having been to the Taj in person in 2005, I wondered if a virtual tour was as good as the real one?
Well, the answer is of course no, a virtual tour is nothing like the real thing. On a visit in person, you can spend all day exploring the Taj Mahal, speaking to local people, exploring the mausoleum, enjoy some rest on the grass outside, and enjoying a lovely cup of tea. I lasted about 2 minutes on the virtual tour, before I was bored.
Lots of people like to say that the web is taking over the world. That its revolutionizing everyone and everything. I think these are gross over-exaggerations. While the web is revolutionary in many ways, there are also countless things the web can't and never will be able to replace, and travel is one of them. The web can change the way we organize our travel, and promote it, and share our experiences, but it's no substitute for those actual experiences.
One of the primary reasons we love to travel is that it arouses all our senses simultaneously. A day spent at the Taj means you will feel the temperature at the moment, the humidity, and you will feel the changes throughout the day. The breeze crossing your path, and the smells that are so unique in India. The sound of people talking, laughing, and the buzz that's creating when friends are enjoying themselves together. The colors of India can't be fully experienced on any screen – you have to see them to believe them. These are just a few observations. I could make thousands.
If anything, virtual travel makes us want to travel more, because the virtual experience is so limiting.
When I toured the Taj Mahal on-line, all I could think was…… "This is really boring. Maybe my next trip should be to India!