Around Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

Agra was the formal capital of the Mughal empire, due to its significance many historic sites exist around Agra.

After visiting the Taj we decided to explore some of the popular historic sites, as all the sites were in different directions we arranged for a rickshaw. After some negotiations we settled for around 200 rupees with the condition we had to visit some shops after. It sounded like a good deal at the time.

The drivers split us into two rickshaws which halved the work, and double their return on commissions, though it did allow us to take some nice photos of the journey as well.

Sonya and the rickshaw tour guideTravis laid back and talking to the rickshaw driverSonya blending in on the Indian roads

  1. Taj Mahal
  2. Agra Fort
  3. Itmad-ud-Daula Tomb
  4. Mehtab Bagh

Agra Fort

A beautiful red sandstone fort conquered and modified by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, a marble balcony provided clear views to the Taj Mahal. What I found really interesting was the story of the peacock throne, the name of a throne created by  Mughal Badshah Shah Jahan previously standing in the the Diwan-i-Am  or public audience hall located inside Agra Fort. We had seen a similarly named Peacock Thrown in Iran, known as the Naderi Throne, now located in the National Treasure of the Central Bank of Iran, Tehran.

The Lahore Gate the main tourist entrance to the Agra FortWatch tower on the Agra Forts internal wallsSmall internal gate to the Court of Amar Singh Gate
Map of Agra FortOne of the entrance gates to Diwan i Am SquareThe carved red sandstone of the Jahangir Mahal
Sonya at the Agra Fort with carved red sandstone in the backgroundInternal carved red sandstone reliefs of the Jahangir MahalNow defunct water feature inside the Jahangir Mahal
The halls of the Jahangir Mahal or palace for women belonging to the royal householdThe Taj Mahal viewed from Agra FortTravis fitting in as a local, camera and Lonely Planet in hand
Court between the Jahangir Mahal and Yamuna RiverDiwan I Am (Hall of Public Audience)One of the many arches in the Diwan I Am (Hall of Public Audience)
Semi precious stones inlaid in the white marble of the Diwan I AmUnused water feature inside the Diwan I Am (Hall of Public Audience)The white marble patterned floors of the Diwan I Am
Sonya in the column courtyard of the Diwan I AmView of Musamman Burj from northwest, with the Yamuna river and the Taj MahalThe black throne of Jehangir
Arches of the Diwan-i-KhaasMonkey on the roof of the Agra Fort wallsAgra Fort wall viewed from the south

Itmad-ud-Daula’s Tomb (Baby Taj)

One of the popular attractions all the rickshaw drivers advertise they can take you to, I didn’t have very high expectations, thinking why would I want to see the Taj on a less grand scale. It turned out the lack of other tourists was quite pleasant.

What was a sight, around sunset a troop of monkeys migrated across the garden grounds, as usual we couldn’t resist taking many photos.

The Tomb of Etimad Ud Doulah 1628The Baby TajJali screens of intricately carved white marble
White marble with set coloured stones at the Baby TajTourist Travis outside the walls of the Baby TajCupola of the Baby Taj minaret
Detail of one of the exterior walls of the Baby TajSonya with the intricate internal white marble walls encrusted with semi-precious stone decorationSonya with the intricate internal white marble walls encrusted with semi-precious stone decoration
Itmad-ud-Daula's Tomb inside the Baby TajFloral paintings inside the Baby TajOne of the four red stone gates
One of the four red stone gates on all sides of the Mini TajThe Baby Taj or Mini TajThe Baby Taj or Mini Taj
Sonya and Travis at the Baby TajBaby monkey with motherMonkey sitting on scaffolding
Monkey looking busy on some scaffoldingAt sunset a troop of monkeys migrate across the gardensMonkey looking amused

Mehtab Bagh (Moonlight Garden)

Our final real stop was the Moonlight Garden, located across the Yamuna River directly opposite the Taj Mahal. It provided nice views of the Taj Mahal from behind, not normally seen.

Two local Indian girls carrying bags of grass clippings on their headsView of the Taj Mahal seen from the Mehtab Bagh gardensSonya and Travis with the Taj Mahal in the background

This concluded our tour, so now was time to meet our side of the bargain and visit some stores, every store we visited the drivers got 50 rupees each. After the second store the ‘just looking’ got quite tiresome, we had a very hard time trying to shake a seller of ‘star stone’ a black star sapphire apparently commonly found in Agra.

Taj Mahal – Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

From Khajuraho we caught a train to Agra, the home of India’s most famous landmark, the Taj Mahal. We arrived in Agra just in time for sunset and decided to view the Taj from one of the roof-top restaurants recommended by the Lonely Planet. After, we decided to have an early night intending to catch the Taj at sunrise.

Early in the morning, though not quite as early as the Sunrise Ganges boat ride, we made our way to the Taj’s west entrance. Once we were inside the complex we made our way through the Great gate (Darwaza-i rauza) providing our closest views (well, my closest view given Sonya had already seen it) of the beautiful Taj. We snapped the obligatory photos with the Taj mirrored in the reflecting pools and due to the early hours of the day there were only a small amount of fellow tourists.

We spent a good few hours wondering the large garden and surrounding buildings. The Taj was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and it was really interesting seeing all the Mughal architectural traits, a lot which we had seen along the Silk Road starting in Iran. One of the most impressive features was the detailed floral Pietra dura, the coloured stone inlays or floral patterns on in the inside and exterior of the Taj.

The Taj Mahal
The jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritageTravis and Sonya with the Taj in the backgroundThe finest example of Mughal architecture
Great gate (Darwaza-i rauza)The Taj Mahal viewed from the great gate (Darwaza-i rauza)The interior ceiling of the great gate (Darwaza-i rauza)
Pillared halls of the walls adjacent to the great gateGreat gate (Darwaza-i rauza)Local Indian men crossing one of the many pools found in the surrounding garden
Floral designs carved in the red stone of the Taj Mahal MosqueInterior ceiling dome of the Taj Mahal MosqueDecorative sunken reliefs of the Taj Mahal Mosque
Boy walking inside side the courtyard of the mosqueThe Taj Mahal viewed from the mosqueSonya resting near the Taj Mahal mosque
One of the four 40m minarets surrounding the Taj MahalContrasting red and white tiles surrounding the Taj MahalCarved stone screen surrounding the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal MosqueColourfully dressed locals walking around the Taj MahalOne of the corners of the Taj Mahal
View from the Taj of the great gate (Darwaza-i rauza)The great gate (Darwaza-i rauza)Detailed floral Pietra dura
Coloured stone inlays or floral patterns on in the inside and exterior of the TajArabic verses in stone inlaysIntricate decorative borders from coloured stone inlays
One of the four 40m minarets surrounding the Taj MahalLocal women resting outside the great gate (Darwaza-i rauza)Colourfully dressed local women