So this is love. So this is what makes life divine. – Cinderella
Love is powerful, no doubt about that. One proof for it can be found in Agra – meaning the Taj Mahal, an amazingly beautiful building that was only built due to the tremendous power of this feeling. Standing in front of it made me feel small and happy at the same time. Because I saw it, I stood in front of it, one of the new seven wonders of the earth…
But that’s a bit too quick now. Actually, as the Taj is closed on Fridays (the day we arrived in Agra), our newly founded travel group consisting of Sonja, Noah and Joshua ignored the most important point on our “what to do in Agra” list for one entire day and headed towards Fatehpur Sikri instead, a city located 37km from Agra in which one of the best preserved collections of Indian Mughal architecture in India can be found.
As the pictures will prove, it is a lovely place with impressive sandstone monuments, but unfortunately also occupied by plenty of annoying vendors and guides, that were extremely difficult to get rid of. A little frustrated we found some peace nearby between some pretty ruins – Surprisingly, barely any other tourists or locals were around. After a short and desperately needed break, we also took the chance and tried some street food, spicy samosas and veg puffs, before taking one of the local busses back to Agra.
Next day we finally found ourselves in the queue of the ticket counter for Taj Mahal, perfectly on time at six in the morning in order to witness the sunrise there – 750 rupees for foreigners, 20-30 rupees for domestic visitors – even rickshaw drivers charge us fairer prices. 😀 Lucky as I am I had to stay in queue even twice, as I was not allowed inside due to some small prayer flags I got from a friend, which they found in my bag… Yup, the pepper spray was not a problem. Neither was the knife the boys carried with them. The flags were. A huge one. 😀
But finally… we made it! And we took hundreds of pictures… Lalala! So here you go! 😉
I mentioned already that there is a love story behind this monument. Indeed, it was 1631 when Shah Jahan, emperor during the Mughal empire’s period of greatest prosperity, was grief-stricken when his favorite of three wives, Mumtaz Mahal, a Persian princess, died during the birth of their 14th child. Subsequently, the construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and the principal mausoleum was completed in 1643.1
In the afternoon, we took a look around the Agra Fort, but felt pretty tired after getting up so early again. I guess as a consequence, we didn’t appreciate the place as much as we would have otherwise, and sadly we were also not allowed to take a proper nap there. 😉 But it was huge and impressive. And the bulks of school kids running around a bit too much for my tired self… 😀
In the evening then, at the train station it was time for our group to split up again – while I was heading further to Udaipur, my new friends would return to Delhi. I was on my own again… for ten minutes, until I found new people on the platform at the train station. 😀
PS: Next stops Udaipur and Jodhpur. Happy travelling!