Taj Mahal - Symbol of Love

Well, what do I say about this masterpiece? For some - it's a symbol of love, for some - a road trip, for some - a piece of history, but for me - it was actually an excuse to bunk work. Yes, It was! I used to leave home exactly at 8 in the morning to be back before 8 at night and enjoy the drive.

Said that, there have been a couple of occasions, when my family accompanied me to this beautiful place. Considered to be one of the seven wonders of the world, a drive to Taj Mahal via Taj Expressway from Delhi is just a matter of three hours.


Situated on the Yamuna river, Taj Mahal, as most of you know was built by the 5th Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal who died while giving birth to their 14th child, Gauhara Begum. With 20, 000 artisans guided and led by the chief artist, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, it took nearly 22 years to complete the construction of Taj Mahal which started in the year 1632. Inspiration for this magnificent structure came from Gur-E-Amir (Tomb of Timur) in Samarkand, the basic elements of which are Indo-Islamic in origin. A lot has been said and written by people about Taj. Well, I would just like to remind you all to visit this magnificient structure at least once in your lifetime. For more details, visit https://www.tajmahal.gov.in/


There are three entries (The East Gate, The West Gate and The South Gate) to the Taj and one should be wise to pick the right option. Western Gate is the main entrance to the Taj and outside this gate, there is an edifice made of red sandstone. Eastern Gate faces Taj nature walk and near this gate, there is a tomb on an elevated platform which belongs to one of the other queens of Shah Jahan. Southern Gate is currently closed and faces modern Taj Ganj. Surrounding this gate also there are uninscribed tombs and a grave probably belonging to one lady companion of Mumtaz Mahal.


We spent around four hours visiting this marvelous architecture and admired every corner of this place. This place provides a lot of photo opportunities and a lot of young couple can be seen getting their pictures clicked with this monument of love as the background.

TIPS FOR THE VISIT:

  • Visit the Taj during the sunrise as it will be less crowded by people

  • Get your ticket before hand before you queue up to the entrance. Tickets are available online (https://asi.payumoney.com/#/ and www.asiagracircle.in) as well as towards the East Gate and the West

  • Wear decent clothes (though there is no specific dress code) and bright ones if you want to get clicked before the white marble structure

  • you would see a flock of people and couples getting clicked. Just be patient.

  • There's a list of items that are banned/prohibited in the premise. Check out the same at https://www.tajmahal.gov.in/dos-and-donts.aspx

  • As said earlier, choose the wise gate


Apart from Taj, foodies can have a whale of a time exploring food options in Agra. The world famous Panchhi Petha (with multiple branches) offer many varieties of Petha (a white coloured candy made of ash gourd in sugar syrup). Be sure to choose the right one as there are many fake sellers too ! Ram Babu Parantha located in Civil Lines offers many delicious varieties of paranthas served with hot chutneys. At Agra Chat house, one can taste Bhalla (known as Aloo Tikki in Delhi) made of fried and mashed potatoes mixed with various spices. Deviram Sweets located in MG Road serves hot Bedai (a sort of Kachori) with hot potato curry and some yummy Jalebis.


Besides, Taj Mahal, there are other Mughal architectural marvels that dot the city of Agra. If you plan a trip to Taj only, a day is enough for you. However, if you have the other places in your itinerary, a minimum of 2 days stay is recommended.


AGRA FORT

One of the important forts during the Mughal reign, Akbar called this fort his home for almost his entire reign. Shah Jahan was kept as a prisoner here by his son Aurangzeb.

Open on all days from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


ITMAD-UD-DAULAH's TOMB

Pic Courtesy: wikipedia.org

Situated on the banks of Yamuna river, this tomb was constructed by Nur Jahan in the year 1628 for her father who was also a minister in the Mughal court. This tomb is a sight to behold due to intricate Jali work and use of semi precious stones engraved in white marble interiors.

Open on all days from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


FATEHPUR SIKRI

Pic Courtesy: wikipedia.org

This is the town within Agra district was constructed by Akbar and later abandoned. Entirely built of red sandstone, the town has some imposing structures like the Buland Darwaza providing some amazing sight seeing experience.

Open on all days except Fridays from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


SIKANDARA

This is where Akbar's mortal remains have been laid to rest. Built in the year 1613 by his son Jehangir, this place gives a sense of transcendence to the visitors. One can see the real tomb of Akbar in a small underground room.

Open on all days except Fridays from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


SIKANDARA FORT

This red sandstone fort is known for its splendid gates and designs. One can see a strong influence of Hindu architecture here which are represented in the designs of the windows, finials and balconies. Sikandara fort houses Akbar's tomb as well.

Open on all days from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


MOTI MASJID

This elegant mosque was built by Shah Jahan in the year 1648. The mosque boasts of some intricate designs on white marble, thus the name to this mosque. This mosque stands on a slope with a lot of side supports & arches.

Open on all days from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


With all these inclusions, a visit to Agra is not to be missed. Also Agra City forms the golden triangle tourist point, the other being Delhi & Jaipur. Check out the detailed post on Jaipur at https://spicyroutes.wixsite.com/spicyroutes/post/jaipur-the-pink-city


Since, the distance to Agra from Delhi NCR is not much and can be covered quickly, do make it a point to visit Agra for some splendid views of the bygone Mughal era and some yummy food. If you stay in Delhi NCR, this can be your next weekend drive and if you are not, be sure to include Agra in your tourist itinerary when in Delhi NCR.


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