Agra

Early start (again ๐Ÿ˜) for the train to Agra at 06.00. Traffic was v bad and we were forced to walk the last part even at 5.30am! Our train was on platform 1 so very easy, our names were even on that old printer paper (the one you can tear each side and is a suspicious looking green) taped to the train.
  

We had a couple of A/C seats, good leg room, and no one was in them :). Train set off on time and we received not only a tea and biscuits (classic rich tea) but also a veg samosa type snack, unexpected but very welcomed after an early start. 

  

We had a driver waiting at Agra arranged before we left. The scene as we got out was so funny, the guides/taxis must all have to stay across the road and when people come out its like a cattle market, shouting and hollering for your attention. We escaped it with our driver displaying our name, one had a Mr Susan Smith on ๐Ÿ˜€. Our driver knew one word of English which was worrying, we couldn’t even communicate to where he was taking us, thankfully it turned out to be our guide for the day who on the flip side spoke better English than me.

   

  

  

We went to Taj Mahal first and our driver took us to each place while our guide comes in with us. He was brilliant and gave us a few short history lessons before letting us go off and explore for ourselves, take photos etc, just the right mix. 

The Taj was stunning and even more so the closer you got, for the detail on the marble was ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿป

 The slight annoyance is the number of people there and that two of the minarets had scaffolding on, this lasts for months at a time and they are just washing the stone but it does tinge the peaceful and symmetrical beauty of it (although to be fair both sides had scaffolding ๐Ÿ˜€). The detail and marble work more than made up for it and it is so nice to look at.

The inside is the tombs of Shah Jahans wife (which it is all built around) and the Mughal emperor himself was buried there, after his son imprisoned him. The inside is ok but the tombs are fenced off and nothing else of note. Once up close you can see just how much detail went into every inch, all the various marble inlay. Around 1000 elephants were used and 20,000 artisans. A hard to believe myth we were told was that once finished Shah Jahan paid the workers 7 years wages, forced them to sign contracts they would not reproduce the work and chopped off part of their thumbs!
The gardens all around are lovely and you obviously have the famous heads of states that have been there and the most famous Princess Diana and Price Charles visit and ‘that’ photo. 

We then went to visit what’s known as ‘Baby Taj’ or its official title ‘the tomb of I’timฤd-ud-Daulah’. It was built 10 years before the Taj but is almost a draft for it. This is made from red sandstone while the Taj was made from elegant white marble.

Agra fort was next and a very large fort where the Indian army currently use two thirds of it. Built around the 11th century and it’s also known as the red fort with its red sandstone. 
It was a very nice fort inside with a courtyard area where water would once flow through and live music from the centre stage. 

This is where Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son with the view of his amazing work across the river. 

We had some food in an average Indian restaurant and dealt with a quick marble scam of those classic shops that explains the history and interesting details behind marble before trying to sell sell sell. 
We spent the afternoon at a park called ‘Mehtab Bagh’ which translates to moonlight garden. A square garden and is directly opposite the Taj on the other side of the river bank. This is the site for the rumoured black taj that Shah Jahan was going to build for himself before being imprisoned. 

Nice sunset, just a shame that ‘west’ is a bit far over for this angle to get the sun and Taj in, can’t have it all. 

   
 Now this blog makes it sound like Agra is really nice, it isn’t ๐Ÿ˜œ. The city is a real dump and not looked after, rubbish everywhere, we attempted to walk down a road/market area that proved impossible with the cracked pavement and insane traffic. We were glad to get out….so we didn’t want our 20:15 train delayed..right. It was and it continued to be put back until finally we got on at around 23:45 ๐Ÿ”ซ. We stayed on the station all this time, read our books, people watched and I plucked up the courage to go out and get some street food which turned out to be ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿป

We found our sleeper beds and set our alarms for circa 05:00…again, and this was a holiday ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ

Early start (again ๐Ÿ˜) for the train to Agra at 06.00. Traffic was v bad and we were forced to walk the last part even at 5.30am! Our train was on platform 1 so very easy, our names were even on that old printer paper (the one you can tear each side and is a suspicious looking green) taped to the train.

   

 
We had a couple of A/C seats, good leg room, and no one was in them :). Train set off on time and we received not only a tea and biscuits (classic rich tea) but also a veg samosa type snack, unexpected but very welcomed after an early start. 
  

We had a driver waiting at Agra arranged before we left. The scene as we got out was so funny, the guides/taxis must all have to stay across the road and when people come out its like a cattle market, shouting and hollering for your attention. We escaped it with our driver displaying our name, one had a Mr Susan Smith on ๐Ÿ˜€. Our driver knew one word of English which was worrying, we couldn’t even communicate to where he was taking us, thankfully it turned out to be our guide for the day who on the flip side spoke better English than me.
We went to Taj Mahal first and our driver took us to each place while our guide comes in with us. He was brilliant and gave us a few short history lessons before letting us go off and explore for ourselves, take photos etc, just the right mix. 

The Taj was very nice and it was more so the closer you got to the detail on the marble. 
   
 

The slight annoyance is the number of people there and that two of the minarets had scaffolding on, this lasts for months at a time and they are just washing the stone but it does tinge the peaceful and symmetrical beauty of it (although to be fair both sides had scaffolding ๐Ÿ˜€). The detail and marble work more than made up for it and it is so nice to look at.

The inside is the tombs of Shah Jahans wife (which it is all built around) and the Mughal emperor himself was buried there, after his son imprisoned him. The inside is ok but the tombs are fenced off and nothing else of note. Once up close you can see just how much detail went into every inch, all the various marble inlay. Around 1000 elephants were used and 20,000 artisans. A hard to believe myth we were told was that once finished Shah Jahan paid the workers 7 years wages, forced them to sign contracts they would not reproduce the work and chopped off part of their thumbs!

The gardens all around are lovely and you obviously have the famous heads of states that have been there and the most famous Princess Diana and Price Charles visit and ‘that’ photo. 
   
 

  

We then went to visit what’s known as ‘Baby Taj’ or its official title ‘the tomb of I’timฤd-ud-Daulah’. It was built 10 years before the Taj but is almost a draft for it. This is made from red sandstone while the Taj was made from elegant white marble.
   
 
Agra fort was next and a very large fort where the Indian army currently use two thirds of it. Built around the 11th century and it’s also known as the red fort with its red sandstone. 
   
 

   
 

  
It was a very nice fort inside with a courtyard area where water would once flow through and live music from the centre stage.  
  
This is where Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son with the view of his amazing work across the river. 
   
 
We had some food in an average Indian restaurant and dealt with a quick marble scam of those classic shops that explains the history and interesting details behind marble before trying to sell sell sell. Definitely both commission things from our guide but we were happy to go along with both and just learn to choose our own restaurants and never bother with any marble/gem stores, I’m so lucky my wife is not a big shopper or into these (particular) precious stones ๐Ÿ˜. 
For a driver all day and this private tour guide it was ยฃ22, both were great and made the whole experience much less stressful than haggling for each ride and working out where to go as it is really not tourist friendly at times with many signs in hindi only ๐Ÿค”
We spent the afternoon at a park called ‘Mehtab Bagh’ which translates to moonlight garden. A square garden and is directly opposite the Taj on the other side of the river bank. This is the site for the rumoured black taj that Shah Jahan was going to build for himself before being imprisoned. 
   
 

   
 

   
 
Nice sunset, just a shame that ‘west’ is a bit far over for this angle to get the sun and Taj in, can’t have it all. 

Now this blog makes it sound like Agra is really nice, it isn’t ๐Ÿ˜œ. The city itself is a real dump and not looked after, rubbish everywhere, we attempted to walk down a road/market area that proved impossible with the cracked pavement and insane traffic. We were glad to get out….so we didn’t want our 20:15 train delayed..right. It was and it continued to be put back until finally we got on at around 23:45 ๐Ÿ”ซ. We stayed on the station all this time, read our books, people watched and I plucked up the courage to go out and get some street food which turned out to be ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿป
   
 

  
We found our sleeper beds and set our alarms for circa 05:00…again, and this was a holiday?! ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ
 

 

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