Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Trip To Remember Continued

Visiting Agra always means a trip to witness the remembrance of love, Tajmahal. What if Tajmahal was in Bharatpur, my home town, Will Agra be featured in Indian tourist places? I asked one DU guy and he answered "Bhai kya foren wale pagla gaye hain jo bina tajmahal ke agra Ghumenge? (Why would foreigner visit Agra if there was no Tajmahal)". Agra has another noteworthy monument called Agra Fort. It has seen start and end of Mughal dynasty and now exhibits vastness, cruelty, luxury, architecture and many others things related to Mughals.

Agra Fort was in our list of sites to visit. But thanks to delay in starting the trip, time lost due to traffic, time spent at classy Tajmahal and extended lunch break, we were left with time, which was enough to admire walls around the Agra Fort. We reached 15 minutes before closing the ticket window and as there were not lot many people so in no time we got tickets .

According to, Agra fort was captured by Mughals and later Agra was converted to capital of Akbar's Empire's so this castle became center of Mughal activities. Shanjahan renovated the fort and experimented with white marble. After succeeding in the experiment, he started constructing Tajmahal.

After buying entry passes(Indian Tickets was costing Rs 10, but Videshi's were paying Rs 150 for the same entry), we entered the palace. To make the castle secure, it was surrounded by a moat and walls near to entry gate were too high to climb and too thick enough to break.
Taken from Wiki. Main entry@palace. Look at walls there.

We followed the ramp, especially made for horse and elephant riders, that ended at one point which was leading to two different routes. Using our basic instinct, correction using pretty woman's instinct, we started from rear of the castle i.e. Jahangir Palace. (PS: Do not follow a woman, notably pretty one, as they always choose the wrong paths.) According to the historian this was built by Akbar for his son Jahangir. As we neither had guide nor chosen right track to start, so we ended solving a Maze. In Jahangir Palace there was a dance Court where dancers used to demonstrate their talent to Alampanah. What a life? Can I live this life anytime soon? Wah Wah... Throwing green notes of Dancers.. Wah Wah.

Family Pic@Agra Fort Ramp

Dance Room - As nobody is dancing so none of you will feel the heat of Dance Court.

Spectacular Taj View

To solve the maze we followed different guides time to time. Next to Jahangir Mahal, it was time to peek into Akbar's private mosque, Mina Masjid. Only Sultans (Urdu for Emperor) used to offer their prayers from this mosque. After mosque next was Musamman Burj, place where Shahjahan spent last seven years of his life as a prisoner. Next to it was Diwan-E-Khas, which used to host kings and dignitary. Jahangir had put up a black thrown in its premise. There were another mosque called Moti Masjid where king's female counterpart and her assists used to offer their prayers.

Nice and Bright taken by Stephen, Sunlight made it look gorgeous

Musamman Burj

Takht-i-Jahangir, placed at Diwan-E-Khas

Picture Perfect

Moti Masjid.

Mughal used to hold Zenana-Mina-Bazaar(Female Market) Diwan-E-Khas's premise. Females were the vendors and customers in the market. No males were allowed in this market and lot of folks from other Arab countries to sell their products.

Zanana Meena Market - Vendor used to display here to Empress and other females

There were a garden which had herb plants imported from Arab countries.

Anguri Bagh

Just Me
Kunal enjoying the fort

We exit the Diwane-E-Khas and reached to starting point, called Diwan-E-Aam. At this place Janta used to visit king with their problems and requests.

Taken from Wiki: Diwan-E-Aam

Due to time restrictions and forts size, we were not able to capture every minute details. But fort doubled our satisfaction. Just in single day we witnessed two great monument of India. It was nice trip and would love more trips in future.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Trip To Remember

One sleepy, cold and boring day Kunal offered a trip on his company expenses. As, such deal are difficult to find even on web-sites like snapdeal, so before Kunal could swallow back or alter MOU, I snapped the deal in a blink. I would not say free trip was only inspiration to visit but there were few more. One among them was rejuvenate myself by changing environment around me. Check out Gori Choriyan(White Chicks) instead facing another damp and shievering day in Noida.

After the discussion, cab was arranged and schedule was finalized. With little difficulties, we started just two hours late then schedule. As traffic gets dense with day light, so our delay was multiplied.

We could start at 8 AM. Our destination was a monument which is sought as a symbol of love and it generates maximum revenue to GOI. I had visited it earlier and I found it a over-hyped monument among citizens other than India. Yups Tajmahal, built by Shahjahan to keep her wife Mumtaj alive in memories, it was.

Me, Kunal and Stefan, swiss guy who does not follow Federer, were members of trip. As none of us had time to cook and stuff ourselves so we all were hungry. It was little difficult to find a place which will pass on our guest's parameters.(Bhai, Stefan ko khila dena Ganga naha lene jaisa tha). We got one good looking restaurant en-route and we stuffed Idli/Bada. Long story short, we reached to Agra after spending four hours in cab.

Delay brought down Kunal's Enthusiasm, Monster is sleeping :)

As soon as we stepped out of car, couple of guides rushed to persuade a prospective customer. Kunal was patient and tactful while dealing with them. After some discussion one lost hope and left us in piece. But second guy was still trying and succeeded finally.

There were not much queue at ticket window, so got tickets quickly. In the meantime I got stuck into a heated discussion with a vendor who was trying to sell some tour books on hefty prices. At such elite tourist place, People's attitude toward foreigner is disappointing. People force Videshis to buy each and every thing they sell. Vendor told me "HAM HINDUSTANI LOG APNE GHAR WALON KO KAMANE NAHI DE RAHE (We Indians are barring fellow Indian's income)".

Ticket Counter Taj Mahal- Pashchim Darwaja Agra.

Taj has couple of entry gates, one well known gate is at west side of Taj called PASHCHIMI DARWAJA. 1000+ people were queued up to clear security checks and visit monument. Anyway we entered from South Gate after breaching the lines etiquettes. After clearing security checks, we entered to a new world of vastness, magnitude and luxury.

Ticket counter was here earlier but now it has become a security check@west gate

After Security Check, we reached here. South Gate

Guide started narrating us history and features of architecture. Though we knew most of it but still there were lot of things unknown to us. He told about Tajmahal's symmetry, height, height of different constituents, marble used, multiple stones used, architect, architect's commitments, expenditure, number of labours worked, time spent in construction, nearby other wife's tomb and lot other things. Stefan was not interested in stories but two of us were sucking each and everything threw to us. Our guide did awesome job of adding lot more information in our database.
Guide, who kept flowing the facts about Tajmahal.

After guide finished the stories and declared the peace time to move forward, we crossed South Gate and entered territory of greatness, elephantine and most fabulous and artistic architecture. We were atleast 200 Meters away from actual building but its brightness and charm could be sensed from the gate as well. A structure completely built by white marble, 55 Meter high mosuleam standing in the center of ten M high Dias along with four minarets each on every corner of Dias, was charming and splendid.

First Tajmahal picture clicked by Stefan.

First Taken by Kunal

Then we clicked few more pictures to hold Tajmahal better. Distance between Taj's center piece and gate is covered with British Style loan, water foundations and dais for resting.

Tajmahal and its shadow togather

This was group of this trip.

You must be wondering why British garden. Actually Britisher wanted to demolish the monument and in the process first they removed Mughal style Garden. But due to intervention of one sensible officer it was not harmed further and British garden was developed to make up the mistake.

British Style Garden in Mughal Style Monument. India hai bhai kuch bhi ho sakta hai.

Dias in the middle is popular because most of celebrities, visited tajmahal, clicked a picture on the benches put up there. So we did, atleast one thing similar to BIll Clinton (Everyone do not have monika in office :) )

Bill Clinton posed here once. We did as well.

After Dias next thing was center. It was guarded by Army soldiers and bare shoes was not allowed there. Apprx 360 year old mausoleum, built with white marble over the span of 22 years in remembrances of her beloved wife Mumtaj, is indescribable in words. (Fact: Mumtaj mothered 14 kids in 11 years and no two was born on same date). 55M high mausoleum, is situated on ten M high Dias and contains 6M element brass stick on top of it. Dias has the four minarets, architect to make Taj earth quack proof, on four corners

Indian Army at Work

Dais which is stabilizing the master.

Quaran verses were written on marbles and stones of different colors. Color of stones were red, blue, black, while and many more. Inside the building the dummy caskets were placed(Actual caskets of Mumtaj and Shahanjahan, were kept away from display).

Dummy Caskets/Graves of Mughal-e-Ajam and Malika-e-Hindustan

There is one guest house and one mosque on each side of Tajmahal. For symmetry reasons both the compounds looks similar to each other.

Guest house view from Tajmahal's window.

Tajmahal from Guest House.

Backside of white Tajmahal, Yamuna river is flowing. Other side of the river Black Tajmahal's foundation exists. People believe King wanted to meet with Mumtaj everyday in river's flowing water. But he was imprisoned by his own blood before executing his plan.

Yamuna River in the backyard of Tajmahal. Adding elements of its glamour

After spending some more time and clicking another set of pictures we moved out of most stunning, indescriable, and awestruck monument.

I also wanted one memorable snap with Mr Beautiful. So it dint deny to pose for me.

Thoda hai to bhi acha hai.

Once we reach to the streets Stephan bought souvenir for his kids and later we proceeded for lunch. After taj, next destination was Agra fort. Another huge and gigantic place to cover.

It was great trip and I guess if you did not like Taj for first time then give it a second chance you will love this monument of love and sacrifice.

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