Agra Journals

In the Town of the Taj

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An October 2001 trip to Agra by phileasfogg

The Taj Mahal Photo, Agra, India More Photos
Quote: The north Indian town of Agra appears dull and uninspiring- but is home to one of India’s most stunning buildings: the Taj Mahal, pristine and perfect. To millions the ultimate symbol of love; to me, the best example of Mughal architecture there is.

In the Town of the Taj

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Overview

The Taj Mahal Photo, Agra, India
Quote:
The exquisite white-marble mausoleum of the Mughal Empress Mumtaz Mahal and her husband Shahjahan, the Taj Mahal, is Agra’s tourist attraction #1. Spend at least half an hour exploring the Taj Mahal before you walk on to the neighbouring Agra Fort, built largely by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, who began work on it in 1565. Slightly outside town, 10 km down the road to Mathura, lies Akbar’s tomb, the ornate red sandstone-and-white-marble mausoleum known as Sikandra; and further away, at a distance of 37 km from Agra, off the Agra-Delhi highway, is the spectacular lost city of Fatehpur Sikri, built by Akbar but abandoned due to a shortage of water. If you have the time, do make it a point to visit F...Read More

Taj Mahal

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Attraction | "The Taj Mahal"

Taj Mahal Photo, Agra, India
Quote:
The approach to the Taj is disappointingly commonplace- Agra’s dusty and drab, and nothing in town really prepares you for the Taj. The road’s dirty and narrow; the main gate to the Taj- a red sandstone structure- is pleasing enough; but you don’t see the stunning beauty of the Taj until you’ve walked down a flagstone path, through another gate- and there it is. The Taj stands beside the Yamuna river amidst a traditional charbagh garden, quartered by running water. Neat paths lead to the central platform from towering gates, decorated with white marble inlay. Pine trees and flowering shrubs screen the domed tomb which stands surrounded at four corners by tapering minarets- all symmetrical. To t...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 29, 2002

Taj Mahal

Agra, India

Sikandra

Attraction

Sikandra Photo, Agra, India
Quote:
10 km from Agra, on the main highway to Delhi, lies the tomb of one of India’s greatest emperors, Akbar. Unlike his grandson Shahjahan, Akbar wasn’t too interested in architecture; what he was good at was administration- so good, in fact, that some of the systems he introduced are still used in India. Akbar may not have been a great builder, but his tomb is definitely worth a look. It was begun during Akbar’s lifetime, but was completed after his death by his son, the emperor Jahangir. Sikandra stands on the main road, hidden completely by a massive gate of red sandstone, stunningly decorated with geometrical inlays of white marble. Go through the gate, onto a wide, raised pathway which leads st...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 29, 2002

Sikandra

Agra, India

A teardrop on the cheek of time

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Story/Tip

The main gate of the Taj Photo, Agra, India
Quote:
The Taj Mahal is- well, something of a pilgrimage. You can’t come to India and miss seeing the Taj- and Indians themselves turn up in droves to view the mausoleum to beat all mausoleums (which just makes me wonder: if `mausoleum’ is derived from `Mausolus’, then should a splendid tomb be henceforth referred to as a `Mumtazeum’?). Am I being facetious? And that too about a monument which has long been touted as the ultimate tribute to love? The Taj Mahal, after all, has been inundated by praise- sincere and generous- for centuries altogether; it’s been described as "having been designed by giants and finished by jewellers"; as "a teardrop on the cheek of time" (by India’s very own Nobel laureat...Read More

The pros and cons of Agra

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Story/Tip

Quote:
The pros of Agra are many- with the lovely Taj Mahal topping the list. There’s more, of course: the imposing Agra Fort, Sikandra, Itmad-ud-Daulah, and more- which makes this city one of India’s most visited. Which actually translates into more cons and scams than you can imagine. No, not everybody’s out to crook you, but too many of the so-called tourist guides, the souvenir-sellers and the hundreds of other people who make a living out of tourism feed off the gullibility, ignorance or whatever, of the thousands of tourists who come to Agra. Here, then, is a brief guide on how to handle the cons without missing out on the pros: 1. Go well-armed- which means carrying a good guide book and reading...Read More