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Published: April 11th 2013
The Taj Mahal
The white marble came from Makrana in Rajasthan and the red sandstone from Fatehpur Sikri. Precious stones were brought from far-flung places in Tibet, China, Sri Lanka, Persia and Afghanistan.
Agra - grubby, overcrowded, totally tourist-oriented, 'want postcards?', 'need taxi sir?', hassle, hassle...
It’s best to get in, see the sights and get out – as quickly as you can.
Arrive around midday. In the afternoon, visit Agra Fort
for a distant view of the Taj Mahal down by the Yamuna River, then the glorious ‘Baby Taj
’ (the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah)
, before taking in the sunset view of the Taj Mahal from across the river at Mehtab Bagh
. If you still have any energy, complete your day with the Sound & Light performance back at the Red Fort.
Before dawn next day, enjoy the highlight of your visit by joining the queue at the Taj Mahal
to see the sun rise over this fabulous monument. It's the best time of day and you'll be able to spend a couple of hours there before it gets too crowded. Just make sure it's not a Friday - the mosque is in constant use and the Taj is closed.
Return to your hotel for a late breakfast, pack your bags and move on.
I don't need to give you the low-down on what there is to see here. There
Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh
To my mind, this is the best view of the monument - from across the Yamuna River as sunset approaches.
are more than enough websites and guidebooks extolling the virtues of Agra and its unique and remarkable monuments. When I last checked, there were 1,092 blogs with 11,782 photos right here on TravelBlog alone!
So, instead, click on the website links above or, better still, take a look at my photos. They all have captions and I've tried to say a few words about each of them. You'll only find a few pictures of the Taj Mahal here, however - I've visited this place many times and, regardless of the camera, the lens or the angle, the classic shots of that iconic building always tend to look the same as those on everyone else's blogs.
Working on the maxim of: 'I came, I saw, I conquered - and got the hell out of the place', my advice is not to empty your wallet on accommodation in Agra. You didn’t come here to spend your time in a hotel room, did you?
Of course, if you're a luxury freak, by all means take a room at the Oberoi Amarvilas; including taxes but no breakfast, a night here will set you back around Rs.46,000 (about £555/US$850/€645)
In Agra Fort
Beautiful architecture and beautiful people!
preferred to stay at N.Homestay
, where a double room (albeit minus the luxury but including breakfast)
cost only Rs.1,500 (about £18/US$27.50/€21.50)
. And that's for two
people! What’s not to like about that?
The people who run it, Shiron and his mother are delightful - they’re informal, friendly, speak excellent English, and are very helpful. It's not a hotel, it's a 'homestay' ('bed and breakfast'😉 and rooms have minimal furnishings, but they’re spacious and clean. They each have a private bathroom with shower and wc, and there's free WiFi too. Breakfast in a slightly gloomy dining room is nothing to write home about, but it’s certainly more than adequate. The location, in a quiet road within easy reach of the main sights by taxi or tuk tuk, is good. Also, within walking distance you'll find a Pizza Hut and other eateries with familiar Western names (delivery to N.Homestay is fine)
or the lady of the house will cook an Indian veg or non-veg lunch or dinner for you, with prior notice, at a maximum cost of around Rs.350 (£4.25/US$6.50/€5)
Scroll down for more photos – double-click on any photo to enlarge it. And remember that the panorama
At the Taj Mahal
Cameras at the ready for the classic 'ooh!' shot of the Taj Mahal from just inside the entrance.
at the top of the page is actually part of a slideshow. For more about our journeys, click on Grey haired nomads to read what my travelling companions have to say.
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