After our full day of touring in Delhi, it was time to head out with our driver Karan Singh. We were picked up at our hotel and headed out for the 4 hour drive (approximately 242 km) to Agra. We stopped partway to Agra at a rest area for a break and to get a snack. Upon arriving in Agra, we checked into our hotel. A view from our hotel room across the river to the Taj Mahal on the other side.
After settling in, Karan picked us up and then we stopped to pick up our guide and made our way to the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna River. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–1658), to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child. The tomb is the centerpiece of a 42-acre complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a wall. It took 17 years for the monument complex to be completed in 1648.
The main gate to the Taj Mahal complex.
Looking at the Taj Mahal through the arch of the main gate.
A look at the Taj Mahal on the other side of the main gate with the reflecting pool in front. The four minarets were in the process of being cleaned so, unfortunately, there was scaffolding around three of them. As you can see, the fourth one had already been cleaned and is much whiter and brighter than the rest.
The most spectacular feature is the marble dome that surmounts the tomb. The dome is nearly 35 metres (115 ft) high. The minarets are each more than 40 metres (130 ft) tall and were designed as working minarets—a traditional element of mosques, used to call the Islamic faithful to prayer.
Some close ups of the detail in the marble and of the colored in laid stone.
At the far end of the complex are two grand red sandstone buildings that mirror each other, and face the sides of the tomb. The backs of the buildings parallel the western and eastern walls. The western building is a mosque and the other is the jawab (answer), thought to have been constructed for architectural balance although it may have been used as a guesthouse.
This shot was taken from the backside of the Taj Mahal later in the day. Here you are able to see the symmetry of the two red sandstone buildings on either side of the Taj Mahal.
From the Taj Mahal, we made our way to the Agra Fort. It was constructed by the third Mughal emperor Akbar
The Amar Singh gate is the southern entrance to the fort.
Delhi Gate – northern entrance to the fort.
Jahangir Palace – the palace of the Mughul emperor Jahangir.
Diwan-i-Khas – A hall of private audience, it was used to welcome kings and dignitaries.
Looking out from the Diwan-i-Khas into the courtyard.
Shish Mahal or the Glass Palace is situated on the western side of the Muthamman Burj below the Diwan-i-Khas hall. Shah Jehan built it between 1631-40, perhaps to be used as imperial baths. Thus, it had extra thick walls to ensure cool interiors.
A view of the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort.
Monkeys on the grounds of Agra Fort.
Next stop: Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah (Baby Taj Mahal)
After a long day of touring, it was time for some dinner. After having been taken to “tourist” restaurants the first two days for lunch, we asked our driver to take us to a local restaurant where the locals eat. He did just that and came inside with us to help us order as the restaurant owner did not speak any English. Here is a shot of the small, very basic restaurant. The food was excellent.
Back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep and off to Jaipur tomorrow!