Agra is one of the most prominent heritage cities in India with fascinating historical background. It is mentioned in Mahabharata as Agrabana. Ptolemy, a famous 2nd century geographer, marked it Agra on the world map.
Agra is located at the banks of Yamuna River. It is also known as the most popular city for tourism featuring one of the Seven Wonders of the World – Taj Mahal. It was said that the tourist who came in Agra every year are triple the times as the population of Agra. It is also considered as one the underprivileged cities in India.
How did I get there? After visiting Chand Baori, my first plan was to return to Jaipur and ride a bus or train going to Agra. My taxi driver offered to drive me from Abhaneri Village to Agra when he knew my plan. He said that the road we were taking is the same road that the bus will take if I go to Agra. I told him that I will think about it after seeing the stepwell. 🙂
I thought that it was convenient since I don’t know what will be the schedules of bus or train if I will return to Jaipur. I also considered that it will be cheaper when I return to Jaipur and commute. But then, I decided to take the offer of my driver. I added 2,500 Rupees from the initial 2,000 Rupees we agreed from Jaipur to Abhaneri. This includes toll fees and taxes upon entering Uttar Pradesh, the state where Agra is located.
We left Abhaneri Village at 10 AM. After encountering the freak boys at Chand Baori, I thought of safety and comfort. This time I considered saving time than saving money.
I am glad that my driver speaks in English. He told me about his personal life and how he got his own car. By this time, I know I was safe. Who will get his own car in trouble then? 😀
He also pointed out his perspectives about Mahatma Gandhi. I asked him if he likes Gandhi. I was surprised when he said no. He said that Gandhi allows Muslims to live in India that is why their population gets bigger. A normal Hindu family has 3-5 children only while Muslims can have as many wives and children they wanted. He said that Muslims also cause troubles. I got my driver’s point. Gandhi is radical in changes. It was glad to hear a local’s perspectives. This is one of the beauties of traveling; it let you see the things that you don’t see. I am fan of Gandhi since childhood. This time, I was introduced to his other side. 🙂
My driver warned me also to be careful and vigilant while I am in Agra. Agra is considered as one of the poorest city in India. He said that there are many pick pockets and scammers.
From all the stories, we safely arrived in Agra. My driver showed me his friend’s leather shop. Agra is known for its genuine leather. I actually wanted to go directly to my hostel but to equal his kindness; we stopped for some minutes to see the shop. He also needs to rest for a while. I haven’t bought anything from the shop though.
We arrived at my hostel before 1 PM.
Where did I stay? I booked 2 nights at Zostel Agra in Booking.com. All reviews from this hostel are pleasing and I also wanted to add mine too. It is 15 minutes walk to Taj Mahal East Gate ticket counter. They have the best café too!
How did I get around the city? Aside from walking to Taj Mahal, I rented an auto to see the city. There are autos outside my hostel. The receptionist called the “Manager of Autos” and we agreed to visit some places and price. It was actually funny since all of his drivers wanted to drive me around. I guessed they were eager to earn money on that day. To be fair, we wrote the names of driver on pieces of paper. We drawn lots! 💡
While traveling in India, I trusted my hostels and locals to where go best. I used to research in every places I will go but it changed my perspective this time. Locals’ guide is the best! ❤
It was built under the rule of Emperor Shah Jahan in 1631. As we all know, he built this marvel as a memorial to his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal in the bank of Yamuna River. More than 20,000 workers were commissioned to finish this monument that was completed after 22 years.
Taj Mahal is well known for its exquisite design and architecture. Emperor Shah Jahan invited master craftsmen from Italy and Persia to design his ambitious tribute of love. Aside from white marbles, the dome of Taj Mahal is made of different stones like jasper, mother of pearl, agate and emerald. Now, it was included as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
It was February this year when I started browsing photos of Taj Mahal in Instagram. I was surprised to know that Taj Mahal was on construction or should I say beautification. From what I read online, the Archeological Survey of India started to mud-packing Taj Mahal to whiten all the marbles.
It was said that this will be the first time to clean Taj from the day it was built. From all the pollution over thousands of years, it became darker. It will be a year-round activity in Agra. What a great year for me! 😳
Nonetheless, this activity in Taj Mahal never stopped me to visit India. I checked Instagram every single day to see how it looks like. I prayed that it will be over when I arrived. But the construction is fast! From the photos posted everyday it kept on changing! I actually got lost of track how it really looked like!
When I arrived in Agra, I was very happy to fulfill another bucket list moment in my travel life. My hostel is 15 minutes away from Eastern Gate ticket counter. Included on the entrance fee is a bottle of water, shoe cover and free ride on an Electric Autos or Tangas.
Security in Taj Mahal is tight. They even confiscated my whistle. It is my way to catch attention in case I will be in trouble. But I don’t have choice, either I get my whistle or not see Taj Mahal.
It was love at first sight when I see Taj Mahal. I broke into tears to see it! It was a dream came true! I was extremely happy to see in person! I was very blessed as there were fewer types of scaffolding from the photos I saw in Instagram. It was magical! ❤ ❤ ❤
It took me more than an hour in mesmerizing the beauty of Taj Mahal upon I entered the complex. I set my expectation low from all the scaffolds I saw in Instagram. But Taj Mahal never failed me. It was still marvelous in my eyes. ❤
Once you entered the actual memorial, you have to wear the shoe cover given at the ticket counter. Visitors are allowed to get inside and see the remains of Mumtaz Mahal. Taking photos inside is not allowed. I expected that the inside of Taj Mahal will be full of lights as same as the Catholic tombs but no it was dark! It will take you less than 5 minutes to walk around Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb. I noticed that there was like a whirling wind inside when people are talking loud. It was such an amazing moment for me to get inside Taj Mahal.
It was bloody hot morning! There are many spots to see the beauty of Taj Mahal and to see it at its grandest is by early in the morning. It was less crowded too.
You will see Taj Mahal’s glorious white marbles at the back. It was the purest white I have seen specially when the light stroke it. It was a real gem!
It was once in a lifetime moment. I thank God and Mother Teresa to let me visit Taj Mahal. I am writing this blog after a month I visited India and until now I am still fond that I achieved this monumental day in my life. ⭐
Taj Mahal is not just a tomb or a husband’s memorial to his wife. It was a marker to confirm that dreams came true!
I wanted to spend more time in Agra but time is running out. I pray to see Agra and Taj Mahal again in its full glory. Nevertheless, my travel experiences in Agra fulfilled one of my childhood dreams! Now, Agra and Taj Mahal is one the most unforgettable chapter of my life. ❤
It took me 3 hours to see the entire complex of Taj Mahal. After that, I returned to my hostel for breakfast.
To know more of my adventures and expenses in Agra, please read Agra City – DIY Day Tour. ❤