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AGRA - TAJ MAHAL

6.4. - 7.4. 2014, travel book part III.

 

Why to go to Agra

Agra is a former capital of the powerful Mughal empire and third peak of the Golden triangle, these days it is a city of heavy industry in the state of Uttar Pradesh. However, it is also a home of the most beautiful building in the world – Taj Mahal.

 

How to get to Agra

I took a train from Jaipur to Agra. I had my AC2 train ticket bought beforehand [705 INR, 15:45 – 20:12, 241 km]. This time I had a horizontal seat on the other side of the isle, so I pulled my curtains from one side, lied down and observed the view from a luxurious horizontal position. I arrived to Agra with an hour delay but my rikshaw driver was patiently waiting for me. I had a reservation in N homestay and agreed with them beforehand that they will pick me up from the station [100 INR]. During the ride, the driver offered that he can show me around next day.

 

Accommodation tip in Agra

I checked Tripadvisor for references before I decided to stay in N homestay, which is a family hotel in a quiet part of the city and it is fairly close to Taj Mahal [via Booking.com]. I had a nice, clean room with Wi-Fi and AC, breakfast was included and the owners were really nice and helpful [1700 INR]. The biggest advantage revealed to be the rikshaw driver that worked for them, the same one that picked me up from the station. Mukul is an intelligent young tour guide, he spent the whole day with me from six in the morning till eight in the evening and he organized the whole tour of Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Baby Taj palace with ease [600 INR].

 

My experience in Agra

Mukul was waiting for me at six in the morning outside of the hotel and together we set out towards Taj Mahal. Morning is the best time to take photos because the lighting is good, it is not so warm and there aren't as many people around [750 INR, there is a discount of 50 INR for Agra Fort and 10 INR for Baby Taj, Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays]. The tomb was built by the emperor Shah Jahan as the last place of rest for his beloved wife, who died during childbirth. It took 21 years before the building was finished in 1653. Not long after that, the emperor's son imprisoned his own father in Agra Fort, which left poor Shah Jahan the only choice to admire his impressive building from afar across the river. At half past seven I had my ticket and walked through a huge 30-meters high gate, behind which I could see a part of the famous Taj Mahal. Once again, I was reminded of the Slumdog Millionaire movie but this time we got plastic covers for shoes so we didn't have to leave them anywhere. Taj Mahal shines with white marble, it is surrounded by walls made from red sandstone and three red palaces as impressive as the white one. There is a big green park in front of Taj Mahal, full of water ponds that reflect the building and behind the palace there is a river Jamuna. After I walked it all through, I sat down on a bench where two water canals crossed their streams and observed Taj Mahal and tourists from all around the world. It was funny to watch how focused they are to get the best picture for their family photo albums. After nine o'clock I decided that that was enough of Taj Mahal and I went to find Mukul.

India Agra Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Together we moved towards Agra Fort [300 INR], which was finished by that silly son of Shan Jahan in 1658. Huge walls from sandstone were really huge. I was walking through the green courtyards, red palaces and halls made from white marble. Once again, the heat started to be unbearable but there was nothing we could do.

India Agra Fort

Agra Fort

After lunch, Mukul offered that he can take me to few shops. I agreed but I told him that the minute someone tries to convince me to buy something, I'm out. He told me not to worry and he was right.

We went to see Baby Taj. It's older and similar to famous Taj Mahal, but really tiny.

We had a bit of time, so Mukul bought some expensive beer, parked his rikshaw in an alley, we had a smoke and drank the beer together. He revealed to me that he only drinks one beer a month.

At the end of the tour we went to have a last look at Taj Mahal, this time from the other side across the river Jamuna. I enjoyed this less popular view of the building and observed a goat that didn't want to obey some little child, cows that were munching grass nearby and smoke that was coming from a distant burial place.

India Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

In the evening I got a ride back to the hotel with Mukul, I picked up my backpack, had a quick shower, said goodbye to landlords and set out to the train station to hop on a train that was going to take me to Varanasi. We became friends with Mukul during the day, so he gave me a big hug on the train station and wished me good luck. To this day we still keep in touch.

 

VISITED COUNTRIES

zeme 100

37

KM ON THE ROADS

km 100

48 560

DAYS ON THE ROADS

dny 100

397