If you are in New Delhi for a vacation or conference or even a business trip and you have a day or two to spare then you must not leave without experiencing the enchanting beauty of the majestic Taj Mahal in Agra. The city of Agra is a perfect destination for someone who wishes to explore the architectural wonders that the Mughals gifted India, including one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal.
Taj Mahal, the enormous mausoleum complex was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, grandson of Akbar the Great, in 1632 to house the remains of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. It was constructed over a period of twenty years on the southern bank of the River Yamuna in Agra, India. The famed monument is the epitome of Mughal architecture in India and combines Indian, Persian and Islamic influences. In 1983, Taj Mahal was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
The ride from Delhi to Agra takes only about three hours and believe me, Taj Mahal is worth every second of it and more. So, once you are in Agra, you’re in for a delight. Your first stop has to be at the Taj Mahal, and if you are just in time for sunrise, you will witness how stunning the majestic palace looks under the beautiful rising sun. You can further take a break at the nearby hotels where breakfast and lunch are served for you and your companions. While still in Agra, you must not skip the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Agra Fort. Feel the power and admire the red sandstone work used to build the fort as your guide fills you with nostalgia for the days in the Mughal era in India.
- Exploring the splendid Mughal architectural masterpieces, when you visit three UNESCO World Heritage sites of Agra –Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri along with the Taj Mahal.
- A visit to the tomb of Akbar the Great to enrich your experience of the Indian history and the culture and tradition of the Mughal Empire and the incorporation of various features of ancient Indian architecture into it.
DAY 1: DELHI TO AGRA
From Delhi airport you will have to hire a taxi or cab for a four-hour drive towards your destination city, Agra, home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites namely, the Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and the Taj Mahal. With your arrival in the city, you will pass by the Tomb of the 16th century ruler, Akbar the Great, at Sikandra. This mausoleum of the third Mughal emperor has been built with a perfect blend of red stone and white marble.
Check-in into the hotel for some refreshments and some rest to rejuvenate you for the journey ahead. Thereafter, you can visit the Agra Fort – a red-sandstone fortress, built during the reign of Akbar, with works of marble and pietra dura. Also, here you will find the Moti Masjid, another term for the Pearl Mosque, Diwan-e-Am, Diwan-e-Khas, Shish Mahal, etc.
After the excursion of Agra Fort, it is now time to enjoy the exquisite Mughal cuisine in a popular restaurant of your choice. ITC Mughal, Maikhana, Taj Bano are some of the luxury hotels in Agra. After the food, it is finally the time to visit the great wonder of the world – the Taj Mahal. In the evening, do find time for exploring the Meena Bazaar, a large shopping paradise where you will find craft items made by the locals, jewelry, marble figurines and much more for a memento.
DAY 2: AGRA TO DELHI
If you have another day to spend while you are still in Agra, you must start off for Fatehpur Sikri (meaning, the City of Victory) right after breakfast. It was the capital of the Mughal Empire for a few years and is also one of the best places to find Mughal, Hindu and Jain architecture all at one place. Now you may drive back to Delhi with abundant memories in your baggage!
But, when you can find so much about Taj Mahal on the internet through videos, images and other content, why plan for a visit? Let us find out!
TAJ MAHAL: A SPELLBINDING BEAUTY
- The builders of the Taj Mahal had used some very smart optical illusions to make it look so breath-taking. Proceeding towards the Taj, you pass through an arch. This will be your first look at the monument. The arch is totally dark so that the only thing you see from there is not its walls, not your fellow travellers and not yourself in the front camera of your cell phones but only the milky white marble monument, as enchanting in sunlight as in a full moon night shower. This makes you forget everything else that you had on your mind and focus on that one wonder created so painstakingly for your witness.
- When you step back in the arch, the Taj appears bigger and tantalizing but when you rush towards it to grab more of the view, it appears smaller and smaller and opens up like a big bird opening its full-fledged wings! Want to know how? Plan a trip now!
- The arabesque (an artistic decoration style consisting of flowers, foliage, fruits etc.in rhythmic patterns) on the walls of the Taj Mahal has been done by using precious and semiprecious stones by a technique called pietra dura. These stones have a special property that they glow when light shines directly on them which makes their appearance gleamy on the white marble structure. Do not forget to make space for a torch in your back pack.
- The white marble structure changes colors like a chameleon in different parts of the day. It appears slightly pinkish in the morning, white during the day, transparent white on a foggy day and a little golden at night! Don’t believe me? Check for yourself and click your own pictures.
- In case you thought that the Taj Mahal is built entirely of white marble then you must have a visit and find out why the red sandstone is apparently invisible!
- By now your questions on why should you visit the Taj Mahal might have been answered. So, what are you waiting for? Get right up and experience it for yourself!