Our time in Delhi had come to an end. A quick stay of 36 hours in the very busy capital of India was a quite an eye opener. With the prospect of seeing the Taj Mahal in just a few more hours we finished breakfast quickly on our second morning at the hotel and rushed to meet our driver Mr Honey at the hotel lobby where he briefed us of our itinerary for the next couple of days once more. This time we would just be spending a night in Agra, so we would need to make it really count by visiting all the important and wondrous sites before we depart for Jaipur, to complete our visit of the Golden Triangle.
Itinerary for day 2:
- 5 hour drive to Agra from Delhi after breakfast
- Agra Fort
- Mehtab Bagh
A few hours into our journey to Agra, Mr Honey suggested a stop for lunch. With a resounding yes from all 3 of us, he took us at a restaurant somewhere close to Agra. Not really sure where it was, but the food was absolutely delicious. We got coaxed into ordering some sort of lunch platter which our waiter guaranteed was just enough for us to share, it was humongous when it arrived. Felt like a wedding dish that was to be shared with the entire table, not complaining though, it was divine. Little bits of everything, from biryani, assorted cheeses, vegetables, curries, the works!
As we approached Agra, it felt completely different from the capital, New Delhi. Somewhat more relaxed, less busy, and much fewer cars around. Felt like a sanctuary as compared to Delhi. As soon as we checked in our hotel, our driver suggested we quickly dump our bags and freshen up before meeting our local guide who will be taking us to visit Agra fort. Before we even got close to the fort, we could see it looming over the distance bathed by the late afternoon sun, it was a massive complex. Truly befitting as the royal residence for the Mughal emperors of the past. The moment we got dropped off at the entrance we were approached by a swarm of people trying to sell us things. With many no thank you’s, we made our way to the front entrance where we were greeted by a very impressive doorway entrance named the Delhi Gate.
Upon entering I was told by the guards that I could not take my gorillapod with me inside, as all forms of tripods are banned in the complex. Gah! I had to leave it at the ticket booth entrance and pick it up when we depart.
One thing that I find fascinating about my trip in India so far is that everyone is tremendously friendly, especially kids who will randomly will come up to you and say hi and ask for a selfie. Or in this case, ask me to take a group picture of them, I guess this is my souvenir from Agra fort.
I loved every bit of the tour around the gigantic complex of the Agra fort. My advice to anyone visiting would be to come around late afternoon where the lighting would be amazing for photography. The shadows and lights are just so distinctive with the intricate architecture within the fort. Especially the magnificent halls that are scattered around.
Our tour guide then quickly ushered us along to leave the fort as the sun was about to set, and he told us we would be getting a really fantastic but short time frame to photograph the Taj Mahal from the outside, from the Mehtab bagh or also known as the Moonlight Garden which is across the Yamuna river. A short drive later we ended up in a huge garden, and there she was at the edge of the river banks, glowing with a slight tinge of orange under the brilliant sunset. The ivory-white marble mausoleum was just breathtaking. Finally we were laying eyes on one of the new 7 wonders of the world. Another check for the bucket list.
As the sun went down, we soon made the trudge back to our car with the guards yelling in the distance that the gardens are now closed and everyone should leave. If viewing the Taj Mahal from the outside was already so awe-inspiring, I surely can’t wait till tomorrow where we will be stepping foot inside it.
Before our guide dropped us off at our hotel, he told us that most visitors would want to go visit the Taj Mahal during sunrise, and he said it sure is beautiful but if our priority is to photograph the building itself, we should go at about 8/9 am as there would be a heavy layer of fog during sunrise that would make photos of the complex impossibly blurry in the early mornings. With that said, we opted for the later departure meaning we get to sleep in. This only applies when you visit during winter time our guide told us, during other seasons sunrise visits are equally stunning as sunset visits.