When I was a little girl I fell in love with the Disney movie Aladdin. When I found out that “Agraba” was based on Agra and their palace was based on the Taj Mahal… my mind was BLOWN and it was imperative that I visit this myself. This actually was the entire reason I came to India lol. Well thank you Disney because I love this place.
The Taj Mahal is actually a massive tomb that the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built for his most beloved wife (the one that gave him sons) Mumtaz Mahal. Its a very bitter sweet tale actually. She died in 1931 giving birth to their 14th child. Yes. Yes I said 14.
He was building the Taj when he fell ill, and his second eldest son (Aurangzeb) defeated the older brother (the heir) and decided he wanted the throne. He placed his Father under house arrest in the palace where he could still see the Taj being made from the window! The Taj took a total of 22 years to build and during that time Shah Jahan’s eyes started to fail, and one of his daughter snuck him a thick piece of glass so that he was able to look through that and continue watching the construction. There is the unproven theory that across the river there was going to be a second mausoleum in black marble called the Black Taj, which would be his own tomb. However when he died, he was buried next to her just to the left in the centre of the mausoleum – ruining his vision of perfect symmetry. Oh the irony.
Fun fact: Well not so fun. Once the Taj was completed, the Shah ordered the workers hands were CUT OFF so that they were not able to repeat this work of art anywhere else. Wow. What a dick lol.
Fun Fact: The Taj has tiny little hooks all over the dome. You can’t see them in pictures – only when your up close. They look like curtain hooks. Basically these were installed during the world wars, so that a massive camouflage blanket could be attached and hung over the entire Taj! Thus stopping the aircrafts seeing its location and destroying it! #Smart
Agra is a more mellow part of India which was a nice break from the chaos of Delhi. Theres a lot to see… not just the Taj!
When in Agra its very easy to hire a Tuk Tuk driver for the whole day. I asked the man how much to take me to the: Baby Taj, the back of the Taj (Black Taj location) and the huge Agra fort. He said the whole trip would take around 5 hours and that he’ll wait for me at each location and I can spend as much time as I want. I was like hmm… ok… sounds good. But how much?! He said 500 rupees.
Thats ~£5.00 english pounds. So he would take me around all day… and that £5 would be his labour cost and the cost of fuel for the Tuk Tuk?! I have to admit I felt a bit sick. Every time I’m slapped in the face with the poverty reminder its heartbreaking. So I said yes -and I had a great day and I saw everything I wanted. When the day was up I gave him R.2000 rupees. – £20 quid for me is a burger and chips in London. That for him is 2-3 days hard work. He was really really grateful and that made me happy. When he dropped me at my hotel, I said that in the morning I wanted to go into the Taj grounds to watch the sunrise at 6am. So can you please get me at 5:30. When morning came I walked out side and he was there. He told me he had been there from half 4 just to make sure. ?!??!?!??!?! I gave him another R.2000 obviously.
Fatehpur Sikri (The city of Victory). This beautiful palace was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar and was the capital for 10 years. It is stunning. Its not actually in Agra, its just west of it. I ended up visiting this because my train which I had pre-booked to go straight to Jaipur was
3 hours late. Apparently trains from Agra are never on time I was told… when standing dismayed at the station. So I was approached by multiple taxi drivers (Its annoying because they swarm you), and I finally picked the guy that spoke the best english. We agreed he would take me to Jaipur and stop on the way to visit fatehpur Sikri for as long as I wanted for £60 GBP. The journey is 242km. That is insane. London to Heathrow airport costs me that much! India is soooo cheap. Great for students lol. Im so happy this happened or I wouldn’t of made the stop… it was so worth it.
Here there are 5 different types of architecture. – Christian, Persian, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu.
Tip: There will always be guides at the major attractions wanting your business. I normally hate that kind of thing, but I really recommend it for India. There is sooo much history, and standing around reading all those plaques is gruelling in the heat! Besides… they normally only charge £3.00GBP. So why not!
This is where the Emperor and his wife would sit and play “Chess”. The Slaves would stand in the sweltering heat and they would direct them to move around the board to play. Erm… mean lol.
Rajasthan was 51 degrees when I was there, and the roads were melting… I went in may. It is cheaper to fly to India and to stay in nice hotels because its so hot not many tourists come. Even Indian people were complaining about the heat! I sunbathed for 7 minutes and had to go inside. Ive never come back from a hot holiday without a tan before because it was simply too hot to be outside haha.
- 1 night hotel – £15. @ 3* Mumtaz mahal
- Train ride from Delhi – £5
- Meals, snacks and water 2 days – £6
- Cab to Jaipur including Fatehpur Sikri – £60. (the train I had booked that was delayed cost £11.)
- Taj Mahal entry for Non-indian – £5
- Total = £91. Without taxi – £42!
So, Agra. We shall meet again when my children want to come and see the Taj and experience the same Joy you gave me. Thank you. Big Love, Louise x