If there is an Indian monument known throughout the world, that is the Taj Mahal, the tomb surrounded by gardens that the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built in Agra for his wife Mumtaz Mahal when she died in the delivery of her fourteenth son. But in this tourist city there are many other things that are worth seeing and many of the visitors who come to it do not even know of its existence. Do you want to discover them?
- Spending two nights in the city gives the opportunity to know many places that most travelers overlook.
- In the Taj Mahal, there are always people, but in the morning it is much busier than in the afternoon.
- The red fort can be seen almost without people if it is visited in the afternoon, when all the organized groups that only make one night in the city have left.
- Distances are long between monuments and chaotic traffic, count on that the time between monuments and monument may be greater than estimated.
Although there is no doubt that all travelers arrived in Agra in search of the Taj Mahal, we must not forget that the city has another handful of treasures that are worth knowing.
Probably one of the most beautiful palace complexes in northern India. Its walls were built next to the Yamuna river and enclose palaces of red sandstone, others of marble and some inlaid with semiprecious stones. From the harem to the mosque, passing through the courtrooms, everything is in a perfect state of preservation and shows what life was like in the time of the Mughal emperors.
It was in this fort where Sha Yahan was held until his death after his son Aurangzeb seized his throne. It tells a beautiful story that the father of the new emperor spent his last years locked in a palace of the fort from whose tower could see the tomb of his beloved while languished locked, although it seems that reality was much more mundane and spent the time of confinement dedicated to earthly pleasures.
A small tomb, precursor of the Taj and also built next to the Yamuna river. In it is buried the grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal, a Persian nobleman who left his country to follow the Emperor Yahangir with whom his daughter finally got married. It was she who ordered the construction of this tomb for her father, and in which its symmetry, hard pietra work and the harmony and delicacy of the whole stand out.
It is not visited by many people, and it is a good idea to go there in the afternoon because the perfect place to see the Taj while the sun is setting is nearby.
It is another tomb, in this case that of the most important Mughal emperor, Akbar. It is about 10 kilometers from the center of Agra. It is simple and cheap to get to that place in a taxi. The first thing that surprises is the large size of the reddish stone door with white marble inlays that form geometric motifs. Once crossed, there is one in a large space with gardens where the deer walk at ease and in whose center is the grave itself.
Jama Masjid and Muslim Quarter
A short walk from the fort leads to the populous Muslim quarter and the Kinari bazaar . The place is a coming and going of people doing shopping in the many stalls and shops that open in each neighborhood street. In the center of this area is the Friday mosque , built by the daughter of Sha Yahan, and they do not have minarets. The truth is that it is quite abandoned and not particularly attractive, but taking time in the city is one more thing that can be known.
Sunset in front of the Taj Mahal
It is something I recommend doing to everyone who travels to Agra. There are two options to enjoy that moment: one free and the other paying. The location is practically the same, with the difference that in the free you can get to the river and where they charge you are a few meters away.
How to get There? Search for a vehicle and say take you to Mentab Bagh , gardens facing the Taj, there is no loss. If you want to enter, you pay, you see the garden and contemplate the Taj. If you do not want to pay, just walk the path that goes to the river next to the fence of the gardens and reach the shore. To my taste this option is better because you can enjoy the sunset right on the bank of the Yamuna while contemplating the reflection of the Taj Mahal in one of the sacred rivers of India.
Although it is not in Agra, the distance is short enough to make it worthwhile to hire a taxi and get to the city that Akbar built. This city was inhabited only fourteen years, after which and due to the shortage of water it was abandoned.
The palaces are very well preserved and the mosque, whose door is the highest in Asia, is still in use. Enter the latter is free, but must be done barefoot, while the visit to the fortified city is paid. Inside the wall are the most important buildings, although on the outskirts there are also some ruins to which you can walk.