Our agenda for the day included two main places: the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. We left our room as early as 5:30 am to catch the Taj Express at 7:00 am. Train journeys can be interesting. I came across a brilliant blog post on Train journeys in India. Read it here. During our train journey, we came across “The-Kindly-Adjust-Family”. One of my friends even “kindly adjusted” and sacrificed his seat for the family.
We reached Agra at 10:30 am. Thankfully, Surya Bhagawan was kind enough to take rest during most part of the day. We took a pre-paid auto for the entire day’s travel. The driver, Roghubeer Singh also acted as our travel guide. Roghubeer shared a few funny anecdotes about his previous experiences with tourists! He also told us a lot about Agra city.
Some facts that Roghubeer shared about Agra:
- Agra is very famous for its silk. One of the seven leading silk producing destinations in India
- Agra is world famous for its sweet Panchi Petha.
- Prisoners in the Agra Jail make handicrafts and sarees which are sold in the market at subsidized prices
- There are no factories or power stations in and around Agra. This is to avoid pollutants from damaging the Taj
It was disheartening to hear Roghubeer mentioning Jayalalithaa as “M.G. Ramachandran’s stepney who used to wear slippers worth Rs. 1 crore.”
After visiting a local Balaji Temple, we headed straight to the Taj. Need I describe its beauty?The first view of Taj that one gets from the Darwaza-i-rauza (The great gate) was breathtaking!
The plant motifs on the walls of the main mausoleum were a treat to the eyes. It also makes one wonder how they managed to pull it off as early as the 1630s. No wonder it’s a world wonder.
Two hours at the Taj and a sumptuous lunch later, we headed to the Agra Fort, Asia’s largest fort. Roghubeer informed us that what we are allowed to see is only 5% of the entire area. Other parts are under military control! But even this 5% area had a lot of history attached with it! Shah Jahan’s obsession with white marble was very prominent in Agra Fort as well. The Guide we hired told us that Shah Jahan had demolished some parts of the fort built in red stone by his grand dad Akbar and rebuilt it with white marble.
We could feel Shah Jahan’s sorrow when the guide showed us Musamman Burj, the small place where Shah Jahan spent the last eight years of his life under house arrest by his son Aurangzeb. From Musamman Burj, Shah Jahan could have a clear view of the Taj.
In the picture below, you could see both Musamman Burj (in the right) and Taj Mahal (in the background, very minute).
Apparently, Mughals had some amazing engineers in their court. Agra Fort is enough proof. The Diwan-i-am (Hall of public audience) was built in such a way that anyone in the huge hall seated anywhere could hear and view the King very clearly when he was talking.
Since we had the Punjab mail to board at 6 pm, we couldn’t visit other places in and around Agra.
Roghubeer was so cute when he gave us his number and asked us to save it as “Agra Auto Uncle”.