January 12, 2012 Leave a comment
A trip to the Golden Quadrilateral is not complete without paying a visit to the Taj, the monument of love built by Shah Jahan for his wife mumtaz.
A chilly morning welcomed us as we prepared to visit the taj mahal. The guide had come to along with the driver and we set of. Tickets were purchased and since the place is considered sacred, shoes are not allowed inside. Rs 20 etc will get us white covers which can be worn on top of the shoes when we enter inside the taj mahal. The south entrance was a km from where we had parked the car and it was nice walking in the chilly morning. The sun was just rising and the entire place was covered in mist giving the place a mystical feel.
Early Morning Sunrise
The taj is present just beyond the main entrance. The guide explained about the gate, the inscriptions on the walls are from the holy kuran. There are 16 mini domes each representing one year of completion. It had taken the workers 16 years to build the monument.
Entrance to the Taj
The sun which was visible briefly was again covered by clouds. The entire place looked like it was covered in a white sheet. Only the dome of the taj was visible. There were already a few people present there and everyone were admiring the place of nature
Taj covered in mist
We waited for a while for the mist to clear, which didnt happen. The guide in the meantime was explaining about the marble being used to build. He also mentioned that the taj is symmetrical from all sides. The marble used to build the taj has come from various places.
With the mist still not clearing, we took a walk around the taj. The other two buildings, the mosque and the guesthouse built on the opposite sites of the taj were also covered in mist.
The guide then took us inside the taj where shah jahan and mumtaz are buried. The actual graves are present deep within the mausoleum where the public is not allowed entry. A pair of fake graves are present on top which the public can see. The inside of the tomb is covered in the same marble and has the holy quran engraved on them. Since photography is not allowed inside, no photos could be taken. A tour inside and we went to the other sections. A couple of snaps of the engravings and we were out of the complex, hoping for the mist would be cleared so we could see the taj in all its glory
Engravings inside the taj
The mist was beginning to clear and we could see the taj and other buildings fully. We waited for some more time for the mist to fully clear. Finally we could see the Taj in all its glory. As the place was getting crowded, we went to the back to take a few snaps
Mist free monuments
Back view of the Taj
It was time to head back to the front and we could see the crowd had gotten bigger. With more and more people posing getting a clear picture was tricky, also we had to go back as we had another 4-5 hr drive to jaipur after visiting fathepur sikhri.
A few more snaps of the monument and we left the place bidding goodbye to the monument of love.
Lying some 40 kms from Agra is the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, the short lived capital of Akbar. Legend has it that Akbar visited Sikri to consult the Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti, who predicted the birth of an heir to the Mughal throne. When the prophecy came true, Akbar built his new capital here.
The city contains many the summer and winter palaces built for Jodha Bhai.
Summer and Winter Palaces
Apart from the palaces for the queen , the fortified city also contains the panch mahal a 5 storied building for the king and queen to enjoy. There are also a pillar which has all the religions engraved in the Diwan i Khas also called the Hall of Private Audience where the king used to have secret meetings with his advisors
Panch Mahal and Diwan i Khas
One Pillar for all Religions
Buland Darwaza and Dargha Salim Chisthi
There is a general belief that if you pray in the dargha all your wishes will be fulfilled. One needs to tie a chord inside a dargha and put a holy cloth on the coffin. Since the guide who had come with us had told us so much about this me and my wife decided to go ahead with it.
The size of the cloth varies from a small to large which will cover the entire coffin. When we asked for the smallest sized cloth the maulah charged us Rs 2000. The price varies depending on the size of the cloth one selects. Hearing the price I was shocked at the price and refused to pay, as the place is a considered sacred and I hadnt expected people to hoodwink tourists by selling these sort of things for such high prices. The guide again tried to convince us to buy the cloth saying all our wishes would come true for which I again refused. We just went inside the dargha to pay our respects to the saints and headed out.
With the tour of the deserted city complete, we headed back to the car and started the drive to jaipur. A short break for lunch and we continued our drive. Reached jaipur by evening and checked into the hotel.