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Agra & The Taj Mahal, India
Sights in Agra
- Taj Mahal - The jewel of Agra and indeed all of India's buildings.
- Agra Fort - A massive red sandstone fort and palace filled with palaces, mosques and courtyards.
- Itimad-ud-Daulah (Baby Taj) - The exquisite tomb of Mizra Ghiyas.
- Chowk (marketplace) - lively and hectic, but a glimpse or real India and her hardworking traders.
The Taj Mahal is India's most famous building. Described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love, this sublime Mughal mausoleum is India's tourist emblem. The Taj was built by Emperor Shah Jaham as a memorial for his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their fourteenth child in 1631. The death of Mumtaz left the emperor so heartbroken that his hair is said to have turned grey overnight.
The while marble mausoleum looks as immaculate today as when it was built. There are several other incredible buildings in the complex. Sunrise is a good time to visit. Crowds and big cues build as the day goes along. The Taj Mahal looks the same from any of its four sides, and a great view can be had across the river (get a taxi) at sunset, when the Taj Mahal is reflected on the river surface. Expect long cues and searches. Closed on Fridays.
Accommodation in Agra
The Taj Ganj (the series of streets outside the Taj Mahal that housed its builders) is the most central and cheapest place to stay. It's quite seedy though.
Taj East Gate Rd
No Taj views but this is the best budget option in the Taj Gang because of the garden that creates an oasis of calmness, the clean, attractive rooms, and the helpful staff. The garden restaurant is the perfect stop to sip a mixed fruit lassi. Has Internet access. Book ahead. INR400+.
Taj South Gate
The best budget hotel with a rooftop close up view of the Taj Mahal. Ask to see a number of rooms as they vary regarding size, shape and window light. In summer hot water comes in a bucket. The staff are very friendly and the restaurant Stuff Makers is recommended. INR300.
Getting to and from Agra
Long haul buses are available to all major destinations and can easily be booked.
Scams and hassles in Agra
- Taxi drivers and rickshaw wallahs will be very keen to take you to their souvenir shop of choice, where you'll find the hard sell, inflated prices and the driver will get his commission.
- Agra has endless gem import scams, where you will never make any money. Avoid.