On our third day in India, we embarked on a road trip to our third destination; Agra, home of the majestic Taj Mahal. We left Jaipur a few minutes past 7 am and reached the third corner of the Golden Triangle circuit at 12 noon.
Agra, a city in Uttar Pradesh, was ruled by Mughal Emperors centuries ago. It became the center of the empire, thus scattered around the city are astounding monuments showcasing majestic Mughal architecture. Three of the monuments are UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. Having only a day in Agra, Fatehpur Sikri was not included in our schedule as it is located in the outskirts.
Our first stop was at the Agra Fort. The colossal fortress made of red sandstone has witnessed the Mughal Empire's prosperity and hardship. It was built as a military structure during the 11th century, then was turned into a palace complex during the Mughal empire's heyday, then unfortunately became a prison for the great Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.
|Agra Fort also known as the Red Fort of Agra|
My jaw dropped as we walked closer to Agra Fort's Amar Singh Gate! How can a structure look so powerful and so beautiful at the same time? Unbelievable! We were all mesmerized by its colossal beauty that we spent so much time at the entrance alone.
At the entrance gate, we purchased the composite ticket at 1000 rupees which is valid for a single day visit to five Archaeological Sites in Agra; Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar's Tomb and Etimad-Ud-Daula.
|happy and very much overwhelmed at the Amar Singh Gate of Agra Fort|
|Say a big hello to the colossal beauty!|
|breathtaking harmony of nature and Mughal architecture|
|One grand entrance gate leads to another! Agra Fort's inner gate is amazing as well.|
Agra Fort is the citadel of the Mughal Rulers in India. Built within the fortification are palaces, mosques and audience halls. A short walk from the entrance is the Jahangiri Mahal; an imposing structure made of red sandstone which blended exquisitely with the sturdy wall of the fortress. The palace was built for Emperor Akbar's son Jahangir, but was mainly used as a private residence of the royal ladies.
|Jahangiri Mahal:the largest palace in Agra Fort|
|at the inner courtyard of Jahangiri Mahal|
We didn't ask for a guide, hence we just followed a path along the courtyard and reached the massive Diwan-I-Am or the Hall of Public Audiences. From there, we followed a huge group strolling from courtyard to courtyard, from one mosque to another until we arrived at the eastern edge of the fort.
|the massive Diwan-I-am or Hall of Public Audiences|
|fine marble inlay at one of the ancient buildings|
|Ladies Bazaar within the fortress|
I had to stop following the crowd when I felt the cool breeze on my face. My gut instinct told me to slow down and walk to the terrace. Then, I felt my knees weaken when I saw the view that was waiting for me; green pastures, the Yamuna River and a marble structure glistening from afar.
The Taj Mahal was right before my very eyes! And I was standing next to gilded prison cell of the Mughal Emperor who built it!
|The Musamman Burj and The Taj Mahal|
Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son, who took over his throne, at the Musamman Burj. The octagonal tower has a marble balcony facing the monument that symbolizes the great Emperor's undying love.
We spent the last few minutes of our Agra Fort tour at the terrace watching the Taj Mahal. I uttered countless words of appreciation until we decided to stop gawking at it from afar... because the time has come for us to see the Wonder of World up close.
|the beautiful Wonder of the World from afar|
Entrance Fee: 250 rupees
Agra, Uttar Pradesh
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