Getting to the Taj Mahal without much Sleep
I decided to stay in Old Delhi, India for a total of 5 days, in order to really see as much as possible of the city.
During that time, my intentions were to also visit the Taj Mahal, which was located in Agra, India.
I went to the train station near my hostel in Old Delhi, and bought a ticket the day before.
Theoretically, a car ride is only about 3 hours from Old Delhi, to Agra, India.
Yet, by train, I left at 8pm, and arrived by 3am in Agra (a total of 8 hours).
Because the trains have no set schedule, you are constantly awake, making sure you don't miss your stop.
I arrived in Agra, India, took a ‘tuk-tuk' taxi to my hostel, slept for another 3 hours, and woke up at 7am, to head to the Taj Mahal.
In the photos, you might notice my dark raccoon eyes, due to a lack of sleep.
To enter the Taj Mahal, Indian nationals pay about $2 to enter, while foreigners pay about $20 USD.
While the Taj Mahal is one of the most iconic locations in the world to take a selfie in, I have to admit that the Agra Fort was a much more enjoyable and breathtaking artifact of history.
It's kind of how the ‘Mona Lisa' painting is a tiny over-rated painting (metaphorical Taj Mahal) in the Louvre Museum in France, yet when you look behind yourself in the same room, you see a REALLY stunning painting of an epic scale (metaphorical Agra Fort).
Oh, and the squirrels in the Agra Fort will literally climb you up and down looking for food.
One Taj Mahal For Your Persian Princess
Shah Jahan had several wives, but his most favorite was Mumtaz Mahal. After giving birth to their 14th child, she died a painful death.
Stricken with grief, and an undying love, Jahan commissioned for a tomb to be built in 1631, which was completed by 1643 and involved 20,000 laborers and the equivalent of almost $900 million USD (2018).
The tomb and its surrounding buildings and walls were heavily influenced by a Mughal and Timurid-style as seen at the Gur-e Amir (Tomb of Timur) Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
The bright green lawns that run towards the center of the Taj Mahal were commissioned by the British in the 19th century.
And at present, the Taj Mahal, and its enormous minarets are sinking into the ground because the river beside it is drying up at a rate of 1.5 meters per year.
Interestingly enough, just like the Temple in Jerusalem, the origin of the Taj Mahal is being contested as well.
Despite being commissioned by an Islamic leader, various Hindu conspiracy theorists are saying it was commissioned by a Hindu leader, despite not having any solid evidence.
The Agra Fort
The more amazing of the two buildings in Agra, is the Agra Fort, which is IMMENSE in scale, and you can literally stay here for 3 times more time, than the Taj Mahal, as you explore everything.
Nevertheless, Agra Fort or Red Fort (originally ‘Badalgarh' Fort) in 1526, it was captured, and recaptured many, many, many times.
Firstly by the Lodi empire, then by the Mughal empire, the Maratha empire, the East-India Trading Company, and ultimately by the British Empire.
In 1556, under ‘Akbar The Great' of the Mughal empire, this fort was re-constructed and renovated with the iconic red sandstone.
During the reign of one of Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan built many of the white marble palaces within the fort.
Eventually, Shah Jahan became senile from old age and one of his sons, Aurangzeb, took power, and imprisoned Shah Jahan.
Shah Jahan (the founder of the Taj Mahal) died after 8 years in a white marble prison, with a view of the Taj Mahal.
By the early 1700's, the Maratha empire captured the fort. From the 1700's until 1785, the Fort went back and forth between the Maratha empire, and its enemies.
By 1803, Agra fort was captured by the East India Trading Company from Britain.
Finally, during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the fort was officially handed to the British empire.
Bonus: Five-Striped Palm Squirrels
The little guys have no fear in climbing you to get to some food