Our second city stop took us to the wonderful city of Agra, home to the wonderful Taj Mahal.
On the way, in a village just outside Jaipur, we stopped at the deepest step world in the well known as ‘Chand Baori’. This was a random surprise and the grandeur of it was somewhat similar to the Coliseum in Rome. It is believed to have some religious significance, which explains its position opposite a temple. It is 100 feet deep and has 3500 steps. It is architecturally stunning and is probably regarded as the godfather of wells.
Just before we got to Agra, we stopped at Fatehpur Sikri. This small town was previously the capital of the Moghul Empire between 1571-1585. When visiting, there are 2 main sites to visit. The biggest area covers monuments and temples and the other is the Jama Mosque (the largest in India) which is enclosed behind the very impressive Buland Gate. The buildings here are amazing, but here there are so many touts, guides and every Tom, Dick, and Harry who are trying to sell you something or another. It made the visit really uncomfortable and we really didn’t enjoy it. It’s a shame as looking back at these photos, there clearly was a lot to see, but at the time we just wanted to leave.
Probably the most famous building of India and one of the seven new wonders of the world, the ‘Crowne of Palaces’ is simply breathtaking. Normally, when we visit a ‘must see’ we have often been disappointed or underwhelmed, but with this, we were truly mesmerized The finesse and symmetry of the construction is exquisite. If it was built in the modern day, it would be stunning. But to think it was built in the 17th century with limited resources is outstanding.
The Taj Mahl was built by the Shah Jahn, who was the ruler of the Moghul Empire from 1628-1658. His favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal died giving birth and this mausoleum was developed in her honour. It wasn’t completed until 1653 (21 years after its commission), took over 20,000 artisans and cost 32 million rupees. The bodies of Shah Jahn and Mumtaz Mahal are buried underground (off limits) to visitors, but the replica tombs are available for people to visit.
In the afternoon, we went to visit Agra Fort (Red Fort), which was previously home to the emperors of the Moghul dynasty when Agra was the capital of India. The previous walled city encompasses 380,000 square meters, which was designed to keep people out. Surrounding the fort was a moat. In the moat, there were crocodiles. If you managed to avoid them, there were tigers (guarding the grounds) and if by some sort of miracle you weren’t eaten alive, you then faced by the many soldiers.
The fort comprises of many areas such as the Sheesh Mahal (the dressing room), the Diwan-i-am (communications ground), Nagina Masjid (room for the ladies) and the Musamman Burj. This is where Shah Jahn was imprisoned by his son and subsequently died. It’s a large, octagonal tower made from white marble and faces the Taj Mahal.
The fort is also home to the tomb of John Russel Colvin who was lieutenant-governor of the North-West Provinces of India.
The hotel we stayed at is by far the worst accommodation we have stayed in so far. It looked ok in the photos and the room did reflect the pictures, but unfortunately, it was quite dirty and there were bed bugs who had a great time chomping on Wendy! 😫