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A trip to Agra (home of the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort) in India (starting from New Delhi) – Part 1




This is a trip that happened in winter, in fact, very close to Christmas time. We had holidays from Christmas to New Year, and decided to go for a short trip. It had been 20 years since I had lost gone to visit the Taj Mahal, and it seemed like an opportune time to go and visit again. The plan was agreed by the spouse and me in a jiffy, friends and family were notified that we would be gone for some time, and everything was set. I did some searching on the internet, and came across this hotel called ‘Hotel Atithi’ (website), not a very expensive hotel, fairly comfortable and located close to the tourist locations of the Agra Fort as well as the Taj Mahal. The rates for the hotel were in the range of Rs. 2000 per day, and we had originally booked for 2 nights.
The idea about getting from Delhi to Agra was that it takes around 204 kilometers. The traffic situation from Delhi to Agra can be pretty bad in some locations such as Faridabad, Palwal, and Ballabhgarh, and hence it is recommended to leave early, around 6 in the morning, so that you could avoid the traffic jam; that was the expectation, in reality we left around 8 in the morning. The journey from Delhi takes us through Mathura Road, which passes through Faridabad, which can take some time to cross. Soon after crossing the various such points on the way, we reached a place called Hodal (located in the state of Haryana, just before the border with UP) (wikipedia). There is also a rest house at Hodal called ‘Dabchik’ which gives you a break, especially when there are children along with you. You can get something to eat, watch some geese, and relax.
Soon after this location, you will cross into Uttar Pradesh; and cross the locality of Mathura. For those of you who are religiously inclined, going to the temples of Mathura can be a holy experience. We crossed Mathura and moved on, and after some distance, crossed Sikandra (Sikandra on Wikipedia), where Akbar’s tomb is located. We did not have enough time to stop and visit, and moved on towards Agra. You take a right from the highway where a turn is indicated to Agra, cross a railway line, and then pass through some crowded market areas (and there are apparently multiple routes to get into Agra, we must have taken the most crowded one). Finally, near the tourist areas, we found the Hotel Atithi almost located on the main road.

Hotel Atithi in Agra on Google Maps:


View Larger Map

We reached around noon, and after resting for some time, decided to move towards Agra Fort (description on Wikipedia). We took a local conveyance from the hotel rather than taking our own vehicle, and it was a pretty short distance. Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage monument, and is fairly well maintained. The fort was the headquarters from which most of the Mughals ruled over their vast kingdom, and remains an imposing structure. It is also well frequented by tourists on holidays, so you would need to spend a bit of time in a queue when entering, but after that initial wait, it is perfectly fine inside (although the entry rates are so low that a huge amount of people are always visiting). We had taken a guide when we were entering the fort, and he explained the various palaces, buildings and other structures inside the fort to us.

Tourists walking from the outside gate to the inner gate of the Agra Fort
Tourists walking from the outside gate to the inner gate of the Agra Fort

A view of the well maintained main gate of the Agra Fort along with a huge lawn in front
A view of the well maintained main gate of the Agra Fort along with a huge lawn in front

A beautiful green central square inside the Agra Fort
A beautiful green central square inside the Agra Fort

We really enjoyed the fort, and it took us a couple of hours inside; we saw the separate palaces for the queens and princesses, as well as saw the section where the emperor Shah Jahan was confined, when he was usurped by his son Aurangzeb, locked up inside the fort with a view across the river to the Taj Mahal (the burial spot for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal). This specific location was cordoned off from public view and nobody was allowed to enter.

A small tomb in the courtyard of the Diwan-e-Aam in the Agra Fort
A small tomb in the courtyard of the Diwan-e-Aam in the Agra Fort

A sample of the architecture of one of the inner buildings inside the Agra Fort
A sample of the architecture of one of the inner buildings inside the Agra Fort

Beautiful building in the Agra Fort
Beautiful building in the Agra Fort

The brightness of the sun over the Agra Fort
The brightness of the sun over the Agra Fort

The sun peeking through the outer fence of the Agra Fort
The sun peeking through the outer fence of the Agra Fort

Tourists gathered around one of the fountains in the Taj Mahal complex
Tourists gathered around one of the fountains in the Taj Mahal complex

After exiting the fort, we decided to head over to the Taj Mahal (it was now late afternoon), but the huge queue over there (especially since we did not know whether mobile phones and other possessions were allowed inside) caused a bit of wait. Finally we had to call off the visit since there was no chance that we could get inside (the queue was expected to take another hour, and closing time was in 30 minutes). We decided to visit the Taj Mahal the first thing the next morning.

Many more photos of the Agra trip at this location.




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