“Get off here and walk straight there. I will wait here for maximum 2 hours“, said full-day rent taxi driver after spitting betel nut out of taxi window. Betel spittle traces evenly looked in car parking area…. Pathetic.
Not wasting time, I immediately sneaked into the visitors queue to buy a ticket. Shortly….Not more than 10 minutes, a ticket was already got.
I sank into Red Fort grandeur. This city fortress is really high as if watching every step of people who approaching it. Mughal City seems to be the safest city in the world with a thick wall.
Like other fortress, I must cross a canal through a bridge which connects main street and fort gate itself. Entering it, every lane in fortress inner side must be traversed between high walls which slowly changed from creepy to comfortable.
This 4.5-century old UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to all members of Mughal royal family. Red Fort automatically stopped functioning when the capital of Mughal kingdom moved to Delhi. Agra Fort itself was initiated to be built because of several wars between several kingdoms around Hindustan until Afghan area.
Then….My cunning began to acquire myself when “free fare” intuition led me to follow a tour guide steps who was carrying Chinese tourists. Every explanation which came out of his lips tried to understand by me. Some tourists frowned when I was caught eavesdropping, they realized that I was an intruder in their group.
One interesting amusement was when I was offered a pinch of yellow powder by an old man. I’m confused with it. It turned out that a few seconds later little squirrels got into my hands and ate this powder. I just saw a super tame squirrel like that.
Then steps led me into a white building nicknamed as Khas Mahal which was the king’s private palace. This building is made from marble with beautiful paintings in it.
Not far from Khas Mahal, you can see a white two-story building with a large garden in front of its yard. This section is named Anguri Bagh.
Anguri Baghh means “The Grape Garden” which is a private garden belonging to female members of kingdom..
And the last part which I visited was Jahangiri Mahal (often also called Jahangiri Palace). This is the heart of Agra Fort. A magnificent palace intended as a residence of king’s wife.
After tired in taking care of Mughal government, I usually head to Taj Mahal to monitor progress of its construction. In afternoon, I invited some Taj Mahal workers to cross Yamuna river and I continued to take shelter under trees in a field to enjoy Taj Mahal which stood majestically doused by orange-red sunset….So beautiful, I imagined it. Imagine?….Yes, because I’m not Shah Jahan. Only he who can do that activity in the past. Who am I ?….Haha.
I arrived after 10 minutes earlier still exploring Itimad ud Daulah in Northwest Mehtab Bagh. The beautiful and spacious garden hadn’t stolen yet my attention, because I was more interested in old man action who flipping through his fried food so that it gave off aroma of arouse my appetite. No wonder, many people were willing to queue to taste it. I paid for USD 0.75 to redeem and devour it, hot french fries with a faint aroma of curry became my snack menu before entering Mehtab Bagh.
I immediately headed to gate and buying a ticket for USD 3. Suddenly amazed by park condition. Neatly arranged pathway is embellished with an elongated flower column in the middle. Also facilitated by benches in several spots. All benches were almost all occupied by many Indian young couple who were infected by romance. I couldn’t dismiss it, because the park was very romantic, as its name mean. You know the meaning of “Mehtab Bagh”words?….Mehtab Bagh has same meaning as Moonlight Garden….Wouw..
When many young people looked at each other’s interests, I was more interested in going to right of park. Because from distance, appearance of Taj Mahal was so eye-catching. Now I just found out, why Shah Jahan often spends his afternoon to just look at his project here. He even intended to make a black twin Taj Mahal in Mehtab Bagh. But his intention was canceled because he was caught and be a house arrest at Agra Fort after coup by his own son. His son was worried about their kingdom finances which his father was prone to spend it for realizing his intention to build black Taj mahal.
All visitors exactly feel safe when in park, because two young armed soldiers patrolled around park to secure its situation.
Soldier: “Where are you come from?”, asked with smile.
Me: “Indonesia, Sir”, answered with simle too.
Soldier: “How about Taj Mahal?. It’s good. Are you happy?”
Me: “Yes, Sir. It’s beautiful. I Love it”, answered.
Me: “Thanks Sir”.
I couldn’t really head to Yamuna river bank because It was restricted with iron wires. I saw an european tourist look professional when taking out long binocular DSLR and capturing lots of Taj Mahal pictures from various sides which he liked, right in front of wire fence. I just imagined that one day I could have a camera like that and travel around the world then taking great pictures for you to see. By the way, finally 3 months later I had a Canon EOS M10 mirrorles camera. Not as good as his, but enough for me who have small salary to capture better pictures….Hahaha.
It was enough to imitate Shah Jahan actions at Mehtab Bagh. Now I would see Agra Fort where Shah Jahan is imprisoned….Sad ending.
A fog storm in northern India has robbed more than six hours of my time. But my aggravation was defeated by my own vulnerability against India’s cold air .
Jhelum Express pulled up at Agra on 8:30 pm. Do you want to hear my story in using their economic train….Just wait….HORRIBLE !!!.
There was nothing I could do that night. Temperature almost touched zero degree Celsius, even air quickly cooled fried noodles I bought at street food stall. Even Indian spices which are stinging, I still couldn’t feel because a frozen began to hit my tongue.
I was like a coward hiding under the blanket of GoStops Hostel while waiting for the electricity to fill all my “electronic friends”.
Hotel staff: “You must be grateful to be an Indonesian. You can easily go everywhere. Not like me, getting a passport is very difficult. Our government protect their citizen from getting difficult life at out of our country. I had waited for two years to get a passport, I hope I will get this year. I want go around the world like you”
Me: “Don’t worry, you will get it, my friend. You will go to my country also sometimes. One thing that should made you proud with India. Your currency is more stronger than my currency…..Aaannnnddddd, Your country have great histories and cultures in the world.”
It was a bit of a serious conversation before I entered room, and a slightly intellectual conversation after previously I only talked to Jhelum Express’ passengers who sitting in front of me and also to taxi driver who transferred me from Agra Cantt Station to hotel.
OKAY….A morning has came
Automatically, I only had 10 valuable hours to explore Agra starting on 7:00 in the morning. This time I wouldn’t justify myself to use public transportation….Too tight….Luckily, I did sharing costs with fellow backpacker roommates for a taxi services which was willing to be chartered until afternoon. Because in the afternoon, I would go to New Delhi. I just needed to spend USD 4.4 for my entire transportation fee.
Didn’t daring to touch water to wash myself, I rushed into a taxi which was ready in front of hostel. That morning….Fog was so thick which even the morning sun was unable to uncover it.
Yes, finally….I headed for dream destination of tourists all over the world….Taj Mahal
Taxi moved north along Agra-Bah Road. Not far away, only 3.5 km which is traveled in 15 minutes. Taxi stopped at edge of road, I was only remember a sign “Malik Tour & Travel” as a marker.
Bajaj service for USD 2.9 became a next connector toward Taj Mahal West Gate Ticket Office. I spend USD 7.25 to get a entry ticket.
Every inchies in Taj Mahal always carried an impression, a only thing which really disturbed all tourists was fog which made them feel annoyed because they couldn’t capture themselves with this historical building.
This mainstay of Uttar Pradesh State Tourism is truly impressive. A tomb which is dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal (wife of emperor Shah Jahan) is able to attract 8 million tourists from all over the world each year. One of UNESCO World Heritage Sites which you must visit if you enter Mahabharata land.
2.Itimad ud Daulah Tomb
Two hours of absorbing and enjoying the beauty of Taj Mahal which is almost entirely wrapped in white marble had carved a doctrine in my brain that the world is really beautiful.
Let’s go back to hostel to took a bath and ate a simple free-breakfast which was served by hostel. I immediately packed my backpack for check-out and put it in taxi luggage. After enjoying Agra Fort later, I would immediately go to New Delhi.
Located at 4.5 km north of Taj Mahal, this site offers tranquility and comfort. Unlike with Taj Mahal which is noisy with visitors. Similar but don’t as big as Taj Mahal which make it known as the “Baby Taj“.
If Taj Mahal is dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal, the construction of Itimad ud Daulah is dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal’s grandfather named Mirza Ghiyas Beg.
I don’t want to tell much….Visit it, yes!…Yuhuuuuu !!!!
An hour moved quickly. My intention to immediately rushed to next destination ran aground. I was stunned by appearance of a dry river which stretched so broadly, as if showing off its beauty to all who were seeing, crossing or even living in it.
Located at west of Itimad ud Daulah.…Nice.
Guys….That’s Yamuna River….All my life, It was first time to saw a river which very wide like it.
The river which is originating from Yamunotri glacier at Uttarakhand State looked receding and exposed to various forms of waste such as plastic and liquid waste which are easily guessed from its smell. .
Next two kilometers to south….
Licking, sipping and gently swallowing French fries with curry-flavored salt became my next unimportant activity….Set aside for about USD 0.7 to try some street culinary in India! I guarantee that you will be impressed.
Guys, I was already on a side of wide and romantic park….Mehtab Bagh is its name.
“Mehtab Bagh” itself has a meaning which is similar to a meaning of pair of words in English i.e “Moonlight Garden“…Yes, how romantic is it?
It is often been King’s stopover to enjoy beauty of Taj Mahal which is located at opposite it and is only separated by Yamuna River.
The price of admission ticket for USD 2.9 is nothing compared to the beauty of park which you can safely enjoy. Safe?….Yes, park was guarded by two fully armed soldiers who always walk around park.
Masala Tea = 90 Rupee….This is USD 1.2
Egg Fried Rice = 150 Rupee….This is USD 2.1
That was my lunch menu at “The Master Chef” Restaurant at Fatehabad Road before heading to my last destination in Agra….#sad.
Located 2.5 km northwest of Taj Mahal, Agra Fort is also a World Heritage Site which is very prominent in its red color.
You have to pay USD 7.2 to directly imagine how is the Mughal emperor living in Agra Fort.
Walking around as much as you can in Agra Fort before parting with Agra city. I traced one by one of part in this fort.
Entering Diwan-i-Am like Mughal people who are complaining, or entering Diwan-i-Khas like an important royal guest who is being entertained by the king.
Feel the luxury of Jahangiri Mahal, which is a special palace for king’s wife then sat down to relax in Anguri Bagh which was used by women member of kingdom as a royal garden.
And as a Muslim, I also feel obliged to visit Moti Mosque in Agra Fort as a worship place for all kingdom members.
A short time that introduced me to an ancient city in northern India. City whose its architecture influences many building creations around the world.
Make sure that you visit it longer than me because historical values of this city are so high and can’t be enjoyed in an instant time.