Jaipur is wonderful, the palaces, the textile, the culture… but now it is time to move on. From the hotel, I catch a rickshaw driver and take the early morning train to Agra.

My ticket:

Jaipur (JP) – Agra Cantt (AGC) – Class 3A – 12966 Udz Gwl Sup Exp – for 646₹ – Check Schedule Here

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The rickshaw auto drive take me to a hostel, Saniya Palace, near the famous Taj Mahal. A night is 600₹. A bit pricy for a so-so bed. I’m not sure I want to go around the city since I’m dead tired from the whole day yesterday in Jaipur so I settled for the day.

Agra is one of the jam-packed city in Uttar Pradesh. It’s a shame that the city is not as developed and chaos in anyway possible.

The city is founded by the Rajput king, Raja Badal Singh. Legend has it, Agra was mentioned in Mahabharata as Agrevana, city by the border of the forest. After a long history of dispute and conquered by Bābar, the Emperor of Mughal, the city became the capital of Mughal Empire and known as Akbarabād. When the empire declined, the city was renamed Agra.

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My late afternoon “lunch” for 500₹. Lunch with the view of Taj Mahal is priceless.

I was advised to wake up before dawn, like 3-4 am, if I want see the Taj Mahal before the crowd.

Oh look, finally see some monkeys running around.

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Quite a long queue this morning. I should probably go earlier. But it’s fast moving. Security is super tight though. They separate men and women into two different rows and we get a throughly pat down and all bag need to be check out. I’m informed of this and I just have my smaller camera bag with some cash. Entrance for foreigner is 750₹.

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Beautiful morning

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The Great gate (Darwaza-i rauza) 

The great wall and gate is made of red sandstone and white marble. The Mughal inspired architecture is mirrored by the Taj Mahal entrance archway.

The calligraphy on the Great Gate “O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you.” The calligraphy was created by Abdul Haq, Amanat Khan Shirazi, in 1609. The script is made of jasper or black marble inlaid with the white marble.

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And there it is, the Taj Mahal, the crown jewel of Shah Jahan‘s famous accomplishment when he entombed his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, in this mausoleum. It’s also declared as the UNESCO World Heritage sight and one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The tomb is smacked on the middle of a square plinth with the iwan, arch doorway, and vaulted archway or pishtaq on each sides. The dome is 35 meters in height and shaped like a lotus, a motif that repeated from the spires and towers. The architecture is gilded with Persian and Hindustani decoration and Islamic element, like the crescent moon top. The towers or minarets is 40 meters in height with traditional elements from Islamic mosques.

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The garden in the complex have Mughal and Persian influenced square or charbagh with raised pathways dividing the garden into 16 parterres or flowerbeds. There’s also the reflecting pool on the north south axis of the tomb. The water tank is called al Hawd al-Kawthar or tank of abundance, inspired by the flowing rivers of Paradise from the Persian and Islamic texts.

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My photo in front of the Taj Mahal.

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The white marble have flowers and wines relief decorated with yellow marble, jasper and jade in geometric style with pietra dura inlays technique.

Pietra Dura or pietre dure (parchin kari in South Asia) use cuts of colored stones or precious stones inlay flat in stonework for decoration. The decorative art is hailed from Rome in 16th century and brought to the East and used by the Mughal Empire. It makes Agra famous with the craftsmanship until to this day. They also sell a lot of decorative furniture to table ware with this style. Unfortunately it’s damn heavy even to get a jewelry box with this beautiful inlay.

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Another photo of me.

The windows with lights streaming inside. Beautiful in its simplicity.

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When my mom visit this place way, way before, she was able to go down to the mausoleum chamber and see the simple decorative tombstones of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Now we can only see the interior dome above the underground chamber and the octagon jali or screen made of marble with decorative inlays of vines, flowers and fruits.

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This is a really gorgeous morning to see the Taj Mahal. If only I can spend the whole day there… after late Lunch, I chartered another auto rickshaw to Agra Fort.

Agra trip:

Source: Taj Mahal website, Wikipedia, Travelwiki, India Eye Witness Travel.

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