Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Magnificent Agra


My fourth post on India, and this is way behind schedule! I had my trip last Sept 25-Oct 6, eleven days, as my birthday gift to myself. After months of "planning" and researching, it finally happened. I arrived in Delhi, then went by train to Agra. It's roughly 3hours away from Delhi.

ON PLANNING THE AGRA TRIP The main attractions are the Agra Fort and Taj Mahal. I bought tickets for these and visited them on the same day to get a 50 rupees discount. I visited Agra Fort first then Taj Mahal just in time for sunset. It's beautiful because the Taj got some smooth yellow light on its side. I spent two days in Agra, just right for me to see around, observe, and shop a little.

TAJ MAHAL
Agra is well known for Taj Mahal. The moment I saw it, I thought, you just couldn't miss it. I reckon it's the most visited place in India. There were lines of tourists, both international and Indians! And I could understand why. It's just so magnificent because it's huge, and because it's all in white, you're drawn into the shape and balance of the structure. It's inviting, and as I came closer, there's more design to see! I am not sure what to feel if a man would build me something like this, like Shah Jahan. Hehe. But maybe yeah, it's the greatest testimony of love as they described it.

I call this the-everybody-has-this-shot. Hehe, but it's still amazing! This is a view just after sunset.
At the gate. Like I said, it's inviting. I can still remember these kids (the shadows) saying "Aaah,"
all of them excited and expressing their awe. I got excited too. I got goosebumps!

There's two long lines to go inside the mausoleum, one for international tourist and another for local tourists. Inside are tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. It's just a quick turn around the cenotaphs of the tombs and then you'll have to go outside right away to give way to others. It got a bit disappointing because inside there were noise from the tourists and the guards' whistles. I guess I expected too much, expected it to be a bit solemn because it's a tomb. 

Calligraphy etched on the frame of the arched entrance, with marble inlay floral designs just above the arch. Notice the calligraphy as you view up?
The size doesn't change.  It's because it's written to gradually get bigger as it gets higher :)
Calligraphy from above which looks the same size as the one below. On the right is one of the minarets.
The domes

Locals waiting in line, on the background is the Taj Mahal Mosque

Yamuna river, view from the Taj Mahal

THE AGRA FORT
As the tourist information says, it is the most important fort in India and the country was ruled from here. Great Mughal leaders lived here too, and it was here that Shah Jahan was crowned as leader. It was recorded that this was made of bricks, but due to ruins, an emperor ordered to rebuild it using sandstone.
The massive entrance




The Taj Mahal from a distance




Inside garden. The King's own palace. The halls are made of white marble.



 




THE FATEHPUR SIKRI AND THE JAMA MASJID
Fatehpur Sikri (City of Victory), declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a great testimony of Mughal architecture, comprising palaces, public buildings, and mosques, including the Jama Masjid. It was the idea of Mughal Emperor Akbar to build this, right where his son was born. The construction was finished in 1573. What I like about these structures was that they look simple at a distant, geometric, has symmetry and organized, but when you go inside a structure, as always, I was amazed by the intricate details.  

Fatehpur Sikri is about 1 hour bus ride from Agra. I took a rickshaw to the bus station in Agra going to Fatehpur Sikri. Not so many buses go there and back, so there's a waiting period to fill up the seats. I got to sort of bond with three other tourists while waiting and ended up touring with them for half the day. The last bus stop was convenient because it was just a few minutes of walk away from the entrance. 

The bus
My seatmate :)
  
Cow saying good MOOrning to me on the way to the bus station

Inside the Fatehpur Sikri





SPACE!



The Jama Masjid
The Jama Masjid
The mosque is one of the largest in India, and could hold 10,000 people!

Another one of my family photos. The man reading the newspaper didn't want to have his photo taken,
but his other family members loved to!

Tombs



THE ELEPHANT SANCTUARY
Located near one of the entrances of the Fatehpur, it's like the big backyard, just planes and trees and quiet. It was a breather.


In restoration
The castle-like structure is one of the closed gates of Fatehpur Sikri
A panoramic view



Next stop, Khajuraho, the land of erotic love and the ultimate human figure carving :)

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