It was a 2-hour train ride from Delhi to Agra. Hordes of persistent rickshaw and taxi drivers were waiting outside the train station to offer their services. To avoid never-ending negotiations, we arranged a private driver for the day via a prepaid taxi booth and were ready to go! We were limited in time, so we could only stay the day. Nevertheless, you can easily spend a couple of days exploring Agra and its surrounding sights.
The tragic story behind Agra Fort and Taj Mahal
Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal are an essential part of the story of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. In the 16th century, SJ transformed his grandfather’s red-sandstone fort (Agra Fort) into a fairy-tale palace. To do so, he added Persian influenced gardens and his favorite material; white marble. The love of his life, his 3rd wife, died giving birth to their 14th child. In memorial of her, SJ constructed the Taj Mahal. His son seized power and imprisoned SJ in Agra Fort, who could do nothing but spend the rest of his life with distant views of his breathtaking creation, mourning over his wife.
As it offers one of the best views on the Taj, we decided to start the day with exploring Agra Fort. That way, the anticipation to visit the Taj was built up throughout the day. The fort is a city within a city. We loved getting lost in the maze of buildings. Around every corner sits an incredible view, whether of perfectly kept gardens and courtyards or richly ornamented halls – or on the Taj Mahal. Musamman Burj and Khas Mahal, where SJ was imprisoned, offer the best views.
“The Taj Mahal makes the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes” dixit Shah Jahan. We took the southern gate, thus passed the 30 m high red-sandstone gateway before reaching the inner compound. The gateway itself was very impressive, but what was next, was even more so: the Taj enfolded its beauty right in front of our eyes. Needless to say we took the obligatory gazillion pictures. We really took our time as we loved seeing the Taj in different lighting and from different angles. The mirrored temples East and West of the Taj Mahal were stunning to explore too.
After a day of appreciating its exquisite beauty, we had dinner at a rooftop restaurant. We toasted on our lovely time together – with views of one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.