Home to one of the 7 wonders of the world, the great Taj Mahal, Agra is a sneak peek into the architectural history of India, with other structures being the Agra Fort, Baby Taj and Sekandra mausoleum (akbar’s tomb). Generally Agra is a city that you have to visit once in your lifetime. There are so many amazing memories that you can create at this magic city.
I decided to go from Kolkata to Agra by train, knowing that this 1800-kilometre and 26-hour-by-local-Indian-train trip, will be by itself a great adventure and experience.
And I was right! A difficult but huge experience was awaiting me. This trip to Agra by train, with no other tourists on board (I was the only white man), which lasted 36 hours (26, plus a 10-hour delay), was a great adventure and difficult to make it happen!
For my accommodation I had booked the Seven Hills Tower, a very good choice with perfect location, just one kilometre away from Taj Mahal. On my first day in the city of Agra, right after I had my breakfast, I set off to fulfill one of my childhood dreams: To visit the great Taj Mahal! I was very lucky to meet Mr. Jugnu, an amazing tuk-tuk driver, outside the hotel. He had great knowledge of the city of Agra and I arranged with him to take me on a tour around the city with the tuk-tuk.
We started the tour by visiting the Taj Mahal. This magnificent construction rightly holds a place among the world’s 7 wonders! The impressive symmetry, the supreme architecture and the love story of Taj Mahal will leave you amazed!
I left Taj Mahal three hours later, filled with incredible memories and images. My next stop was another amazing monument of the world cultural heritage: The magnificent Agra Fort.
With the Taj Mahal overshadowing it, you can easily forget that Agra has one of the most beautiful Mughal forts of India. Wandering from courtyard to courtyard, in this palatial red-sandstone and marble fortress, you will be surprised by its beauty! Also the man who has built Taj Mahal, the Emperor Shah Jahan, spent the last days of his life as a prisoner in Agra Fort ,watching his beloved Taj Mahal.
Last stop of the day was the Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, a Mughal mausoleum in the Indian state Uttar Pradesh. Often described as a “jewel box” and sometimes called the “Baby Taj”, the tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah is usually regarded as a draft of the Taj Mahal.
The second day in Agra Mr Jugnu (the tuk-tuk driver), was waiting for me outside my hotel for another day tour. Our plan for this day was to go visit the great, Akbar’s Tomb or Sekandra mausoleum. It is an amazing construction, which was built while Emperor Akbar was alive and it was overseen by him.
After visiting Akbar’s Tomb, I went to see for the first time in my life a Sikhs’ temple, the magnificent Gurdwara Shri Guru Ka Taal Sahib. And I was lucky enough to watch a Sikhs praying inside the temple!
Last stop at Agra was the Mehtab Bagh gardens. This is an ideal location for viewing the Taj Mahal. The garden was designed as an integral part of the Taj Mahal complex in the riverfront terrace pattern. Its width is identical to that of the rest of the Taj Mahal. Legend says that Shah Jahan (the Mughal emperor who had the Taj Mahal built for his wife) wished to build there a Black Taj Mahal for himself, as a twin to the Taj Mahal. However, this could never happen as he was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb and passed away in his cell, in Agra Fort, viewing from there his beloved Taj Mahal.