Agra Trip

#1 Oct 25th, 2011, 15:42
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The next day we left Bharatpur towards Agra. The first stop was Fatehpur Sikri. Our driver informed us that tourist cars are not allowed to go up to the fort. So he stopped near the parking which also has different stalls where the guides and autos are arranged for the visit to the fort. The first one who approached us quoted Rs 375/- for to and fro auto and guide. We negotiated for Rs 300/- which was agreed upon (I should have negotiated for lesser than that since it was quite early in the morning). We entered through the Shahi Darwaza from where you can see the Jama Masjid in front of you, the Buland Darwaza towards your left and the Dargah of Salim Chishti on your right. Then we went to the Buland Darwaza, Jama Masjid, to the boundary from where one could see Hiran Minar, the the Dargah of Salim Chishti. We missed seeing the Diwan-e-aam, Diwan-e-khaas and the palaces. To go to the palaces you need to come out from the Shahi Darwaza and you will see the board which shows the direction to the above places. Fatehpur Sikri was supposed to be the capital of the Mughals. Due to water shortage the capital was shifted to Agra. In the Jama masjid there is a madrasa which is still active. The entire complex is made of red sand stone except for the dargah which is made in marble.

Buland Darwaza

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Buland Darwaza

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Jama Masjid

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Dargah

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Hiran Minar

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The next stop was at Sikandara. Sikandara is on the main National Highway # 2 going towards Mathura. There is not much noise once you enter the complex. Once you purchase the ticket and enter the complex towards your right is Kanch Mahal, which was used as a resort for the royal ladies during the time of Akbar. This structure is in a state of disrepair and some work was going on. Skipping this structure we entered the main building of the tomb. There were 4 gates to this place out of which only one (the southern gate) is functional. This is also the main gate through which one enters the complex. Apart from Akbar’s tomb there are quite a few other tombs in here which I think is of his daughter and her children. It is quite a huge complex with a couple of gardens where there are a few deers roaming freely.

Sikandra

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Passage

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Painting

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Deers

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#2 Oct 25th, 2011, 16:11
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After Sikandra the next stop was the hotel in Agra. After lunch and a power nap we left for Mehtab Bagh at around 4:45 pm. The road passes through Agra fort, over the river, under the old railway bridge and a slum area. We reached at Mehtab Bagh close to 5:00. There is an entry fee of Rs 5/- per person. After walking for 5 minutes we could see one of the wonders of the world. Wah! Taj. I need not to say anything beyond that. There were more foreigners than Indians at that time. There is a stone boundary circular in shape which was supposed to be Shah Jahan’s tomb to be made in black granite stone exactly opposite the Taj and he planned to construct a bridge between the two over the river. This information was given by the guide that we had the next day. Could this be true? He was not able to complete his dream project as his son Aurangazeb placed him in house arrest in Agra Fort. The evening setting sun was doing its magic on the Taj. We were there till the guards started to whistle indicating that the viewers/visitors need to leave the garden. After this we retired for the day as we had to wake up early to see the Taj first thing in the morning, if possible before sunrise. I informed the driver to be ready by 5:30 along with the guide who was to be with us for the day till we finish the sight seeing in Agra.

Taj Mehtab Bagh

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Taj Mehtab Bagh

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Taj Mehtab Bagh

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Taj Mehtab Bagh

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We left the hotel at 5:45 the next morning, reached the parking lot near the ticket counter at around 6:00 at the eastern gate. There was no crowd at the ticket counter. Bought the tickets (Rs 20/- per person, no camera charges, Rs 250/- for video shooting) shoe cover (Rs 10/- per pair), boarded a horse cart (Rs 50/-) and reached the eastern gate in 3 minutes. Once I got the shoe cover I saw the attendant at the counter arranging paper bags. I asked for one and was informed that this is only for foreign tourists (that is who pay Rs 750/-, and it contains a 500 ml bottle of water and shoe cover). After reaching the eastern gate there was a separate queue for ladies and gents for security checks. The gents queue was moving much faster than the ladies queue (since the ladies carry hand bags). I passed through the security check 3 times and my wife had moved just 5 places till then. I think I would be the only one person who would have entered the Taj after 3 security checks.

Now let me tell you all “why”. I had taken a torch with me. During the security check I was told that the torch would not be allowed inside and I had to deposit it at the cloak room near the ticket counter which is around 750 meters away from the eastern gate. I came outside and asked the security guard if he could keep it. He refused and asked me to request the shop keepers to keep it with them. As I was approaching the shops a guy came and asked if I wanted to keep the torch. I said yes, he took me to the shop (shop having souvenirs), gave me a card and asked me to come to his shop after my visit to the Taj. After this I passed the security check again. My guide asked me the reason for doing the check again. I told him about the incident. He asked me in which shop did I keep the torch, I gave him card of the shop and he went to get the torch. He also informed me that this is a ploy of the shop keeper to force us to buy some thing from them when taking the torch back. He came after some time stating that the shop keeper wanted the person who kept the torch as he would only hand it over to that person. Again I went out with the guide, took the torch from the shop owner and gave it to the guide. The guide gave the torch to a friend of his and again I proceeded towards the gate to be checked a 3rd time. This was an incident to remember.

After waiting for 10 more minutes my wife joined me and we started towards the main entrance. There were quite a few people already in the complex, I think may be closer to 400 of them and more were pouring in. Out of all the gates the Eastern gate was the least crowded, the Western gate was more crowded and the Southern gate was closed. Most of the foreigners enter the Taj through the eastern gate. We spent close to 90 minutes in the Taj Mahal complex. When you enter from the main gate you see the Taj in front of you, towards the left you see the Masjid and towards the right you see the guest house. From the guest house the Taj looks yellowish due to the sunlight falling on it. While coming back to the ticket counter, we boarded the battery operated golf cart (Rs 10/- per person, free for Rs 750/- ticket holder), where the car was waiting.

East Gate

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South Gate

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West Gate

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Main Entrance

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Taj from Guest House

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Golf Cart

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Continued here

Main thread
Last edited by aarosh; Jan 24th, 2012 at 20:56..
#3 Oct 25th, 2011, 16:44
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#3
Thats a great trip. I am sure this takes you to a bygone era!
For more of my travelogues off-the-beaten-trail check http://www.greatholidayideas.net/
#4 Oct 25th, 2011, 17:00
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#4

Thumbs up

Great Snaps Aarosh.....

Keep this coming my friend....it's delicious....
#5 Oct 25th, 2011, 18:18
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After this we went to the hotel to freshen up and have breakfast. We left the hotel at 9:30. Our guide took us to a factory where marble artifacts are made. He claimed that these workers are the descendants of the workers who worked during the making of the Taj. The person in charge of the shop showed how the work is done and then started showing us the artifacts.

Workshop

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After this we started our journey towards the fort. The entry fees for the fort was Rs 20/- per person. 75% of the fort is occupied by the Indian army and in spite of 25% open for public it took us around 90 minutes to see the complex. The most interesting structure inside the fort for me was the grave of John Russell Colvin, which is in front of the Diwan-I-Aam. As per wiki John Colvin died due to Cholera during the 1857 Indian mutiny but as per my guide he died of heart attack. Do not know which version is true. It was really strange to see a Britisher’s grave in a fort which was dominated by Mughals for a long time. Visitors are now not allowed to see the place (Musamman Burj) were Shah Jahan was kept under house arrest. It has been barricaded. It is said that Shah Jahan spent his last days looking at the Taj from a window here. Apart from these we also saw Jehangiri Mahal where he spent his childhood, Diwan-I-Khaas, the palaces of Shah Jahan’s two daughters which is shaped like a palanquin, the Khas Mahal, Nagina Masjid, Anguri Bagh and the Mina Bazaar. There is also a black platform in an open area near the Diwan-I-Khaas where Jehangir used to sit and a white platform made in marble in front of it where his prime minister used to sit. Our guide told us that when Shah Jahan became the king he used to sit in the white platform and his prime minister used to sit on the black platform, such was his admiration of marble.

Agra Fort

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Shah Jahan's Jail

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White Throne

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Nagina Masjid

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Diwan-i-Aam

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After this the next stop was Itmad-ud-Daula's Tomb (entry fee Rs 10/- per person) the first know marble structure in Agra (also known as Baby Taj). This was built by Noor Jahan, wife of Jehangir in remembrance of her father. This structure is visible from across the river while you are going towards Mehtab Bagh. The next stop was Chini Ka Rauza. There is no entry fee for this structure and it is in state of disrepair. This tomb is the prime minister of Jehangir. Both Itmad-ud-Daula and Chini Ka Rauza lie on the banks of the Yamuna river. Next stop was Dayal Bagh. When I posted my itinerary for suggestions, Vaibhav mentioned that he had visited this place 20 years ago and it was under construction. It is still under construction. This temple is being built by the followers of the Radha Soami faith. Photography is not allowed here, bags and eatables are also not allowed here. Here as Vaibhav mentioned was spectacular carvings on pillar and carving work was being done in the temple itself. I think it will take a long time before the construction of this temple is complete. This temple is funded by the followers of Radha Soami. After having lunch we reached the hotel for an afternoon siesta at around 3:00. I paid the guide Rs 500/- for the time he spent with us. In the evening around 5:30 we left to see the Shah Jahan garden. This leads to the western gate of Taj Mahal. As soon as we entered the garden a guy rushed and said horse cart for Taj Mahal. When I informed him that we saw the Taj in the morning he asked us then what were we doing there. Not many people were there in the garden. A few elder men were sitting and chatting, a group of children were playing. Apart from that no one was in the garden. We walked around for some time, saw the road leading to the western gate and returned back to the vehicle. I informed the driver that I intended to see Bateshwar and then move to Gwalior.

Itmad-ud-Daula

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Minar

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Work

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Chini Ka Rauza

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Main thread
Last edited by aarosh; Jan 24th, 2012 at 20:56..
#6 Oct 25th, 2011, 20:45
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Some more snaps of the Taj from my gallery minar, close up, another view and Taj
#7 Oct 25th, 2011, 20:58
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Aarosh, great report and pictures of your Agra trip. Thanks for sharing.
#8 Jul 2nd, 2015, 22:38
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Love to read.It is great.
#9 Jul 3rd, 2015, 01:46
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I just now saw this thread, Aarosh. Wonderful photos!
#10 Sep 15th, 2015, 02:17
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Thank you aarosh for this wonderful log with stupendous photos. This report is a gold mine of important information about Agra,Fatehpur Sikri & sikandra.

I am planing to reach Agra fort railway station at 10 am on 6th Oct from Jaipur & leave Agra cant railway station at 6pm on 7th Oct.
aarosh bro would you pl. help me by suggesting a program for site seeing at Agra, Sikandra & Fatehpur Sikri?
May I also get a suggestion regarding a hotel in my budget of Rs. 1500/=? (as you helped me in selecting Jaipur hotel).
#11 Sep 15th, 2015, 10:33
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Follow the same plan as I did.

Fatehpur Sikri, Dayalbagh, Chini ka Rauza, Itmad ud Daula and Mehtab Bagh on the first day.

Taj Mahal, Fort, Sikandara, Mariam's tomb on the second day. You could also consider seeing Rambagh, the earliest chaharbagh garden constructed in India.

You could consider Hotel Sheela / Sheela Inn or Taj Khema near the East Gate. You have many options near the East and West gate.
#12 Sep 15th, 2015, 12:01
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Hi Aarosh,

Really nice trip report on Agra. Indeed very helpful.
Can you suggest me easy convenience to Fatehpur from Eastern Gate of Taj Mahal.
I would be there in first week of October. I would reach Agra by 2p.m and have planned to visit Fatehpur on the same day.
And I have kept Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Sikandara, Itmad-ud-Daula's Tomb and Mehtab Bag on the very next day.
I would be leaving Agra on that very night.
Is my plan ok?
How do you suggest me to plan it?
If also, I book a car, how should be my itinerary and what may be the car rents?
Looking forward for your kind help.

Thanks,
Moving
#13 Sep 15th, 2015, 13:33
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It would be better if you ask your hotel to organize a taxi for you for Fatehpur Sikri. The taxi operator may charge a flat rate.

Your plan is okay. Ensure that you are in Mehtab Bagh an hour before sunset as the guards ask the tourists to move out after sunset.
#14 Sep 16th, 2015, 00:00
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#14

Smile Agra stay

Quote:
Originally Posted by aarosh View Post Follow the same plan as I did.

Fatehpur Sikri, Dayalbagh, Chini ka Rauza, Itmad ud Daula and Mehtab Bagh on the first day.

Taj Mahal, Fort, Sikandara, Mariam's tomb on the second day. You could also consider seeing Rambagh, the earliest chaharbagh garden constructed in India.

You could consider Hotel Sheela / Sheela Inn or Taj Khema near the East Gate. You have many options near the East and West gate.
Hi aarosh

Thanks again for prompt reply. Your cooperation enormously helping us.
I have already mailed hotel sheela requesting reservation. Seen some adverse remarks on govt run hotel taj khema in their website - so hesitating to approach.
#15 Sep 16th, 2015, 10:15
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Hi Aarosh,

Thanks for your suggestion. It is better idea to hire a taxi in terms of time-saving.
And I would surely be in Mehtab Bagh an hour before sunset as suggested. Also I have planned to have the light and sound program in Agra Fort in evening.

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