On our third day of our trip we left for Agra.
Although the distance is about 200 km, we spent about five hours on the road. In India you don’t know how long a trip will last because traffic is unpredictable.
During the Mughal Dynasty, Agra was one of the most powerful cities in the world and it was the capital city of the Mughal Empire.
Kings from all over the world used to visit Agra and complement its grandeur.
Today is still an important city on the main touristic route named the “Golden triangle” and home to three UNESCO Heritage Sites: Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
The city itself is a small one and quite dirty. Locals are used to tourists and the prices are extremely high.
Spectacular Agra Fort
We arrived quite late in Agra and we went directly to see Agra Fort which was the main residence of the Mughal emperor before they moved their capital to Red Fort in Delhi.
It was constructed by Akbar, one of the greatest Mughal Emperors, as a military fort and remained the main residence of the following emperors of the Mughal Dynasty. Each of the emperors have added new wings to the exiting fort and now it is complex mixture of different cultures.The palace has a unique story – Shah Jahan, the emperor that constructed Taj Mahal, transformed the fort into a palace, and later on it became his prison for eight years after his son seized power.
The beauty of the palace is something that must be seen to be believed.
It was a pleasure to walk through courtyard after courtyard of this red sandstone fortress in the sunset light.
After we visited the Red Fort we had the chance to go watch a Bollywood show about the love story of Emperor Shajahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal and the story of Taj Mahal.
I think everyone heard of Bollywood. While in India, you shouldn’t miss a Bollywood style show because it adds flavor to your Indian Tour.
Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures or videos during the show. So you will have to trust us that it is one in a life time experience.
The live show is performed in Hindi but interpretation in many languages is available through headphones.
Costumes are great, the energy of the actors and the dancing was really nice and spread joy of the night. THe price of this show was 50 euros, but it was worth it.
We spent the night in Agra at Clark Shiraz Hotel, which was quite a very comfortable one and it gave us the chance to have a good night sleep.
Visiting the Great Taj-Mahal on a foggy morning
The monument is a temple of love constructed by Shah Jahan in honor of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, as you all know.
The structure is striking from the minute you set eyes on it.
Our hotel was very closed to Taj-Mahal but anyway, Agra it is not a big city.
Unfortunately, that morning a thick fog or mist covered the streets of the city. It was quite cold so we had our jackets on, and left for Taj-Mahal.
At the entrance we didn’t spent too much time. Being part of an organized tour, all the tickets were ready purchased and a contact person was waiting for us. Anyway the buying is straight forward and you will not have any issues when buying tickets yourself. Included in the price you will also get a bottle of water and shoe covers.
That morning there were only few people at the gate, so we passed the security check quite easily. In order to avoid problems, don’t carry around things you do not need (to avoid large bags) and take into account that cigarettes and lighters are forbidden.
Once inside we hoped to get to see Taj-Mahal because the fog was really thick and unforgivable. We could barely see the Royal gate.
We decided to walk around to try to enjoy the place as it is. The fog was giving it a certain interesting vibe.For an hour, we were not able to capture this beauty on camera and just spend some time looking at it.
The place was so beautiful and I can’t seem to find the right words to describe it.
After putting on the shoes covers provided, we went close to it where we had the chance to see the architectural masterpiece. Architecture here borrows elements of Hindu art, Islamic and Persian art and for its construction materials were brought by elephants from distant places. Almost every surface of the building has been decorated with calligraphy, abstract geometric and vegetative motifs.
Taj Mahal was raised in 22 years.
It is perfectly symmetrical except for one detail – The tombs of the Emperor and his Queen.
This mausoleum was built only for the queen, her being in the center of the mausoleum. However, after the death of the Emperor, he was laid next his wife, asymmetrically.Visiting Taj-Mahal at any time of the day is exciting because it changes color depending on the sun position. Try early morning for purples and pinks, late morning for bright gleaming white and late afternoon for soft orange and peach.
We would have loved to see it under sun, but it was not the case for us. Taj-Mahal in the mist is a unique experience.
There are many different perspectives to see Taj-Mahal: One of them is from across the Yamuna River in the Mehtab Bagh Gardens, from where you can see the monument reflecting romantically in the calm waters. The second one is during the night, once a month on the full moon when Taj-Mahal is open for visit. Sadly, we missed this rare opportunity
Next day, on the way to our third city of the tour, Jaipur, we stopped to visit Fatehpur Sikhri (Agra)
Fatehpur Sikhri, or the City of Victory, was the pride of the Mughal Empire.
The Great Emperor Akbar constructed this city with huge expectation, but no long after the city was complete, it had to be abandoned by its own people because the water supply was insufficient.
Today the red sandstone city is deserted but it is a very good place to see well preserved Mughal architecture and imposing monuments.
We loved the Palace complex where the Emperor Akbar and his three wives lived. This is actually the main attraction of the place, because the city is in ruins.