So as Indians we are taught that Taj is one of the most beautiful monuments in India and the world. As we say in Psychology that if something is said to you so many times you will surely feel it’s true. I don’t know what applies for me, but I know one thing that when I entered through the south gate and was standing in front of TAJ I did not think about anything else, and I would have loved to sit there all day and just look at the incarnate beauty.
On the 20th Feb 2013 I reached Agra at midnight, checked into a hotel which had got good ratings on trip advisor called Hotel Kamal, I think more than the ratings I had selected the hotel as from the roof top restaurant “Stuffmakers” you could get the view of Taj. So even though we reached late we went to the roof top and saw the beauty last thing before going to sleep and also in the morning with the mist and fog it was the first thing we saw.
Many trips take you to Taj from Delhi for a one day trip which covers Mathura along the way, and I have done that, but I would recommend if time permits stay a full day at Agra, there are other beautiful places to visit in and around. And if you one of those who love photographing and historical monuments there is a lot that will interest you.
So on 21st Feb 2013, we had decided to see Taj in the morning and then continue to other places, the South gate which was a one minute walk from the hotel opens at 8.30 am, while if you are one of the early risers and want to see that Taj first the East gate opens at 6.30am. Taj is a very crowded place¸ even though we were one of the first to enter the south gate at 8.30 am there were at least a hundred people before us.
The Taj is a symbol of love, that’s what you feel standing right in front there, a man built this to bury his wife, and I would have loved to imagine Taj more of a palace where people lived than where people were buried.
Around 10.30 we left for Fathepur Sikri, it’s a 95 minute drive from Agra, it’s a planned City divided into two parts, fathepur and Sikri. Fathe(Win)pur was the where King Akbar built many royal palaces, harem, courts, a mosque, private quarters and other utility buildings and Sikri represents the religious sentiments of King Akhar. Tomb of Salim Chishti, A white marble encased tomb of the Sufi saint, Salim Chisti is built within the Jama Masjid’s courtyard.
Please take a guide that would cost around Rs. 600 excluding tickets to see around and understand Fathepur Sikri. There are boards outside each building in the premise, but would hold little value. Seeing Fathepur Sikri took us around 2 hours, the guide may try to rush you as they want to tap other customers, but request you to see around the place as your time permits.
Have lunch of dinner around the Taj Gunj area it has many good restaurants and a lot of variety too; Pizza Hut and Dominos are also available in Agra in case that is your choice.
At around 4 we reached Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb which is also called Mini Taj, again a monument for the dead of the family of Nur Jahan (She was the twentieth and favourite wife of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir). Small in comparison to many otherMughal-era tombs, it is sometimes described as a jewel box. Its garden layout and use of white marble, inlay designs and latticework presage many elements of the Tāj Mahal.
Next stop – Mehtab Baug, this is a lush green garden along the bank of the river Yamuna which serves as an ideal location to view the Taj. The Garden has nothing to talk about but if you do have the time, there is a Mughal Heritage Walk which is a one kilometer loop which connects the agricultural fields with the Rajasthani culture, river bank connected with the ancient village of Kuchhpura, the Heritage Structure of Mehtab Bagh, the Mughal aqueduct system, the Humanyun Mosque and the Gyarah Sidi.
Red Fort, was our last tourist point in Agra, as there is a Light and sound show at 6.30pm which we had decided to catch, again for the Agra fort we took a guide, to show us around, as we just had an hour and did not want to miss any important spots. Most building towards the outside built by Akbar are Red in colour, but many structure built inside the fort are Marble structure. Forbidding exteriors of this fort conceal an inner paradise, which gets undermined because of its competition with Taj, but it is really worth the extra time
All these building and many more in India depict the luxury, in which all these Mughal Kings stayed, and lucky for us they left these magnificent buildings that make travelling in India a beautiful journey.
Agra is not a very expensive city, you can get a decent hotel at Rs1000 per day, travelling around Agra can be done in an Auto who would charge your around Rs.500. To go to Fathepur Sikri book a car comes around Rs. 1200. A 2 day trip to Agra cost for 2 would be R.5000 with food.