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Magnificent Moghul monuments

Agra Travel Blog

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The Taj from the north

We took the train, air-con coach class, from Jaipur to Agra. It was only 40 minutes late on a 4 hour journey. Agra Fort station provided the usual station bustle, with everyone aiming for the narrow exit and causing a people/luggage jam. We had a car waiting and went straight to our hotel which saved a lot of aggravation from autorickshaw and taxi touts.

Agra is filthy. Not so much in terms of littered streets, as it's pretty clean and cow-free round the main tourist sights - but the smoggy, foggy, industrial, traffic haze that lingers on the lips and in the lungs, and mocks the many "Clean Agra, Green Agra" signs. It has some amazing buildings, though, and not just the Taj.

Taj at dawn
We saw the Taj from the north, across the Yamuna River. We saw it from the south, in the Taj Ganj area, lunching on the rooftop of the Shanti Lodge Hotel. And we paid our 750rps each (£9 - still cheaper than Buckingham Palace) and went in at sunrise to see it close up, and watch it change colour with the brightening sky. No description is adequate. It's marvellous and unmissable.

But not only Shah Jahan had good taste. Other Moghul rulers in Agra did too. The Itimad ud Daulah, a nobleman's tomb, built by his daughter, Nur Jahan, who was queen to Jahangir, is a marble marvel, just exquisite. Agra Fort, started by Akbar in 1565, and surrounded by a massive sandstone wall, contains elegant gateways, gardens, halls and mosques. Ten km out of town at Sikandra, there is Akbar's tomb. It's all red sandstone with beautiful marble inlays of different colours.

Taj at dawn
There's a high symmetrical gateway with 4 tall minarets. You go down a short tunnel to the vaulted tomb chamber, where some visitors still leave money on the tomb itself. And the deserted city of Fatepur Sikhri has some extraordinary buildings.

On the way back, we passed St John's College (founded 1850), a huge sandstone Moghul/Brit style building with lots of tidily uniformed boys on the verandahs. Outside it, a large herd of water buffalo wandered by. Then the rickshaw driver overtook a scooter with a pillion passenger. Two middle aged barrister type lawyers rode through the traffic in their striped trousers, black jackets and starched collars and bibs (no wigs - or no crash helmets either!)

Oh, and Hil did have her photo taken on "Diana's bench" - we made it before the crowds.

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The Taj from the north
The Taj from the north
Taj at dawn
Taj at dawn
Taj at dawn
Taj at dawn
Taj early
Taj early
Taj 30 mins later
Taj 30 mins later
Classic Taj view
Classic Taj view
The Itimad ud Daulah
The Itimad ud Daulah
Akbars tomb - gateway
Akbar's tomb - gateway
Inside Agra Fort
Inside Agra Fort
Fatepur Sikri
Fatepur Sikri
The Dargah at Fatepur Sikri
The Dargah at Fatepur Sikri
Agra
photo by: rotorhead85