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.
Where is Agra, India?
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 main gateway/entrance to the Taj Mahal complex
A cupola on the walls of the Taj Mahal Complex. Often used as lookouts
Looking through the gateway/entrance at the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal on a cloudy morning. The green lawns were built by the British in the 19th century.
A close up of the Taj Mahal, under construction. The Taj Mahal is currently sinking, and might break, because the river next to it is losing water at a rate of 1.5 meters per year.
The guest house next to the Taj Mahal
One of the Minarets which surround the Taj Mahal. These are slowly arching inwards because the ground is sinking.
One of the many cupolas at the Taj Mahal.
A closeup of the walls of the Taj Mahal
Since the Taj Mahal was commissioned by an Islamic ruler, this inscription is written in old Arabic
The guest house to the right of the Taj Mahal.
Facing the main gateway of the Taj Mahal Complex. The gardens were commissioned by the British empire in the 19th century.
Leonidas posing with the main gateway of the Taj Mahal Gateway
Another shot of the Taj Mahal Gateway with cupolas on all 4 corners
One of the many domes (cupolas) on the walls surrounding the Taj Mahal complex used as a lookout
I overheard these 2 speaking in Brazilian Portuguese, so I had to engage in conversation, and selfies together.
Leonidas posing in front of the Taj Mahal
A final shot of the Taj Mahal under construction, before heading out to my next destination
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.
Handsome Indian ladies head towards the Agra Fort for a gathering of some sort
The outer walls of the Agra Fort. Previously, it was surrounded by water during times of war
The minor gate of the Amar Singh Gate of the Agra Fort
Further down the Amar Singh gate, the women from before continue their journey in the Agra Fort
The top of one of the sections of the Amar Singh gate, for the Agra Fort
Continuing through the Amar Singh gate, wide-angle shot for the Agra Fort
The absolute immense scale of the gates leading into the Agra Fort
Inside the Agra fortress, facing one of the outer walls.
Jahangiri Mahal (Jahangir’s Palace) is an example of Mughal architecture using red sandstore (before white stone became popular).
The 2 copulas at either end are an example of ancient Hindu architecture.
Either a real bird or a statue is perched up on a facade of a palace wall in the Agra fort
Despite looking like the star of David, these are actually Hindu symbols, because they have a small circle in the middle in the Agra Fort
These little ‘five-striped' squirrels are not afraid to get up close and personal to you in the Agra Fort
An interior view of the Shah Jahani Gate in Agra Fort.
The Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience) of Agra Fort is an example of white marble architecture commissioned by Shah Jahan in 1631 and finished in 1640. Not to be confused with the Diwan-i-Am in the Red Fort of Delhi, India
Trees cover one of the paths in the Agra Fort
A section of the Agra Fort that was closed for visitors
The Khas Mahal, or the Aramgah-i-Mualla (Exalted Place of Rest) is the big white building in Agra Fort. The garden courtyard is the Anguri Bagh
Inside the Anguri Bagh courtyard gardens in Agra Fort
A copula inside inside the Khas Mahal in Agra Fort
A pearl-white arches of the Anguri Bagh in Agra Fort
The courtyard gardens of the Anguri Bagh, (to the left is the Khas Mahal) in Agra Fort
The courtyard gardens of the Anguri Bagh, (to the left is the Khas Mahal) in Agra Fort
The Jahan Ara Pavilion inside the Agra Fort
A view of the Taj Mahal from the balconies inside the Agra Fort
A view of the Taj Mahal from one of the pavilions inside the Agra Fort
A man rests inside the Anguri Bagh in Agra Fort
A view of the outer walls of the Agra Fort
The Roshan Ara Pavilion (one of 2 pavilions) on the left side of the Khas Mahal in Agra Fort
A man sweeps the interiors of the Agra Fort
Inside the Jahangiri Mahal in Agra Fort. Built from red sandstone. Originally built by Jahangiri Mahal father, Akbar Mahal.
Leonidas making a selfie inside the Jahangiri Mahal, in the Agra Fort
The beautifully designed supports of the Jahangiri Mahal in Agra Fort
Deeper inside the Agra Fort in the Akbari Mahal
Walking down the Akbari Mahal in Agra Fort
The inner courtyard, with a copula on the right. Agra Fort
Emphasis on the red sandstone and copulas of Agra Fort
The amazing interior walls of the palaces of Agra Fort
Some kind of pavilion inside Agra Fort
Overlooking outside Agra fort, towards the Taj Mahal
A traditional Indian woman and girl rest inside the Agra Fort
Looking through one of the stone carvings at the outer walls of Agra Fort
Looking out towards the outer walls of Agra fort. On the right is a bridge, which was introduced during the British Empire in India
Standing on the terrace of the Diwan-i-Khas in Agra Fort
Musamman Burj as seen from the Black throne of Jahangir at Agra Fort
A bird looks upon the Taj Mahal in the distance
Looking at the terrace of the Diwan-i-Khas in Agra Fort
A gate leading to the Moti Masjid (mosque) in Agra Fort. This was closed off during my trip.
One of the copulas of the Moti Masjid in Agra Fort
The tops of the Moti Masjid in Agra Fort
The lush green gardens of the Agra Fort
Another view looking at the entrance of the Agra Fort Wall
A closeup of the interior of the walls of the Agra Fort
Bonus: Five-Striped Palm Squirrels
The little guys have no fear in climbing you to get to some food
A Five-Striped Palm Squirrel walking like a human
A Five-Striped Palm Squirrel looking for something near my feet
A Five-Striped Palm Squirrel contrasted with the red sandstone of Agra Fort
Five-Striped Palm Squirrel sniffing for something delicious
Five-Striped Palm Squirrel almost looks like Skrit from that movie about extinction
A Five-Striped Palm Squirrel
A Five-Striped Palm Squirrel starring at you