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NE-GQ Tour: Agra: Day 2 — Wah Taj

A trip to the Golden Quadrilateral is not complete without paying a visit to the Taj, the monument of love built by Shah Jahan for his wife mumtaz.

A chilly morning welcomed us as we prepared to visit the taj mahal. The guide had come to along with the driver and we set of. Tickets were purchased and since the place is considered sacred, shoes are not allowed inside. Rs 20 etc will get us white covers which can be worn on top of the shoes when we enter inside the taj mahal. The south entrance was a km from where we had parked the car and it was nice walking in the chilly morning. The sun was just rising and the entire place was covered in mist giving the place a mystical feel.

Early Morning Sunrise

The taj is present just beyond the main entrance. The guide explained about the gate, the inscriptions on the walls are from the holy kuran. There are 16 mini domes each representing one year of completion. It had taken the workers 16 years to build the monument.

Entrance to the Taj

The sun which was visible briefly was again covered by clouds. The entire place looked like it was covered in a white sheet. Only the dome of the taj was visible. There were already a few people present there and everyone were admiring the place of nature

Taj covered in mist

We waited for a while for the mist to clear, which didnt happen. The guide in the meantime was explaining about the marble being used to build.  He also mentioned that the taj is symmetrical from all sides. The marble used to build the taj has come from various places.

With the mist still not clearing, we took a walk around the taj. The other two buildings, the mosque and the guesthouse built on the opposite sites of the taj were also covered in mist.

Misty buildings

The guide then took us inside the taj where shah jahan and mumtaz are buried. The actual graves are present deep within the mausoleum where the public is not allowed entry. A pair of fake graves are present on top which the public can see. The inside of the tomb is covered in the same marble and has the holy quran engraved on them. Since photography is not allowed inside, no photos could be taken. A tour inside and we went to the other sections. A couple of snaps of the engravings and we were out of the complex, hoping for the mist would be cleared so we could see the taj in all its glory

Engravings inside the taj

The mist was beginning to clear and we could see the taj and other buildings fully. We waited for some more time for the mist to fully clear. Finally we could see the Taj in all its glory. As the place was getting crowded, we went to the back to take a few snaps

Mist free monuments

Back view of the Taj

It was time to head back to the front and we could see the crowd had gotten bigger. With more and more people posing getting a clear picture was tricky, also we had to go back as we had another 4-5 hr drive to jaipur after visiting fathepur sikhri.

A few more snaps of the monument and we left the place bidding goodbye to the monument of love.

TAJ MAHAL

A hot cuppa and we went back to the car and to the hotel to pick up our stuff. The next destination we headed was the deserted city of Fathehpur  Sikhri.

Lying some 40 kms from Agra is the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, the short lived capital of Akbar. Legend has it that Akbar visited Sikri to consult the Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti, who predicted the birth of an heir to the Mughal throne. When the prophecy came true, Akbar built his new capital here.

The city contains many the summer and winter palaces built for Jodha Bhai.

Summer and Winter Palaces

Apart from the palaces for the queen , the fortified city also contains the panch mahal a 5 storied building for the king and queen to enjoy. There are also a pillar which has all the religions engraved in the Diwan i Khas also called the Hall of Private Audience where the king used to have secret meetings with his advisors

Panch Mahal and Diwan i Khas

One Pillar for all Religions

We completed the tour and headed to Buland Darwaza which is the highest  gate in Asia. This is also the entrance to Sikhri which has the mortal remains of Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti.

Buland Darwaza and Dargha Salim Chisthi

There is a general belief that if you pray in the dargha all your wishes will be fulfilled. One needs to tie a chord inside a dargha and put a holy cloth on the coffin.  Since the guide who had come with us had told us so much about this me and my wife decided to go ahead with it.

The size of the cloth varies from a small to large which will cover the entire coffin. When we asked for the smallest sized cloth the maulah charged us Rs 2000. The price varies depending on the size of the cloth one selects.  Hearing the price I was shocked at the price and refused to pay, as the place is a considered sacred and I hadnt expected people to hoodwink tourists by selling these sort of things for such high prices. The guide again tried to convince us to buy the cloth saying all our wishes would come true for which I again refused. We just went inside the dargha to pay our respects to the saints and headed out.

With the tour of the deserted city complete, we headed back to the car and started the drive to jaipur. A short break for lunch and we continued our drive. Reached jaipur by evening and checked into the hotel.

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NE-GQ Tour: Agra: Day 1 — Agra Fort

It would be an early start as we had a long drive to agra.  After breakfast we hit the road. Passing through the early morning traffic we were cruising along. As usual I asked the driver if there was any places on the way, the driver told me Mathura the birth place of Lord Krishna could be covered if possible.  The temple at mathura would close by 1 pm and if we were to go to the temple, we need to be there atleast an hour before. He also told us it would be a deviation from the normal route and we need to be in agra by 2 if we have to see the agra fort which is quite big and would take time to see. Also the fort would close at 5.30.

With so many variables to consider we decided to continue on the same route and depending on traffic, we would head to mathura if time permits. Heavy traffic on the highway meant slow progress and we had to skip mathura. Needless to say my wife was unhappy.

A short stop for verifying permits at UP border and we were cruising along. Reached the hotel around 2.30. The driver told us he would come to pick us up at 4 to go for the agra fort. Relaxed for an hour and got ready to go to the fort.

Apart from the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort is another tourist attraction in Agra.

Agra Fort

The fort is built along the yamuna river and stretches almost 2.5 km. It consists of a wall built in red sandstone and several buildings inside. Visitors are welcomed by a huge entrance. Walking through the large passageway one can see a entrance to the Jahangiri palace on the right.

Jahangiri Palace Entrance

The interior of the fort has huge palace and other buildings present within it. As with the passageway the courtyard of the palace is also huge. The palace contains multiple levels which can be accessed via small but steep steps. One needs to be careful while climbing the steps as there is no electricity.

Huge Corridors

Apart from the huge courtyard, there are other buildings like Khas Mahal which is made of white marble,  Moti Masjid. There is also a big garden in front of Khas Mahal which can be used by the tourists.

Khas Mahal with other buildings

One can see the back view of the  Taj Mahal from the top of Jahangiri Palace.The inside of the palace contains a large garden which is well maintained.

Taj Mahal

Few monuments are however in a dilapidated state. A couple of rounds inside the fort to ensure that we havent missed any part of the fort and the palaces, we exited the fort through the huge exit

Fort Exit

It took us couple of hours to cover the entire fort. It was sundown by the time we exited the fort. We headed to the hotel. An early visit to the Taj Mahal was scheduled the next day

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