Tracing Shah Jahan, Enjoying Taj Mahal at Mehtab Bagh

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.

Taj Mahal was captured from Mehtab Bagh.

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.

Buying a ticket first before entering.

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..

Really neat right?….

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.

Look at that foundation!….Forerunner of Black Taj Mahal which failed.

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.

Soldier: “Enjoy

Me: “Thanks Sir”.

Shady trees in the park.
Other side of park.

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.

Itimad ud Daulah….Taj Mahal Blueprint

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Itimad ud Daulah

Taj Mahal is may be an famous heritage on earth. But actually behind its fame, there is an architectural creation which the world has agreed that It is a Taj Mahal’s blueprint. This prototype is in Itimad ud Daulah.

Very grateful, I had an opportunity to visit it on that afternoon. Like a surprise when reading a novel. This time, The Preliminary Chapter began with a suddenly appearing of donkey rows carrying red bricks which was accompanied by the owner’s song. Amazed to see donkeys which were saying “excuse me” in front of me. This is my first time in seeing this animal about a meter in front. The owner just smiled to me when he saw me gaping without blinking eyes while pressing record button of my mobile phone.

Donkeys and its owner.

Spending USD 2.8, I entered into “Baby Taj” yard. (“Baby Taj” is a favorite call for Itimad ud Daulah).

Get the ticket at front gate.

If Taj Mahal belongs to Mumtaz Mahal, then Itimad ud Daulah belongs to Mirza Ghiyas Beg who is none other than Mumtaz Mahal’s grandfather . Taj Mahal was built by Mumtaz Mahal’s husband, then Itimad ud Daulah was built by Nur Jahan who was Ghiyas Beg’s son.

A door before entering the tomb.
Here it is the grave of Mirza Ghiyas Beg and his wife.

Tracking it part by part, my mind confirmed that Itimad ud Daulah was a mini form of Taj Mahal. Not exactly same but its architecture, interior and exterior design are close to similar. Still the same, It is relying on white marble as main display.

Itimad ud Daulah interior.
It’s good, is not….

The weather began to warm, making me comfortably sat while enjoying the beauty of this mausoleum. This time, my gaze was slightly interrupted by the arrival of a beautiful tourist with long blond hair. It wasn’t her face which teased me, but my admiration for her effort to came to Itimad ud Daulah in her condition with crutches and casts that indicated there was a severe injury in her right leg. She struggled to sit on the ground while directing her DSLR to and fro. Occasionally interspersed by reading Lonely Planet which was issued from her small backpack. Unfortunately, I didn’t dare to say hello. Her beauty makes me stunned….Damn, I was a coward backpacker.

Closing Chapter of Itimad ud Daulah’s exploration began with stepping to a gate on right side. I was really fascinated by the vast expanse of a river which began to dry up. I certainly knew that it is Yamuna river which is considered by Indian Hindus to be Goddess Yamuna, the Goddess who is believed to be able to free them from death torments when purifying themself with its water.

The gate is directly adjacent to Yamuna river.
Yamuna river.

So….Yamuna River was my exploration closing session in Itimad ud Daulah. Curious in waiting for various surprises for the beauty of Agra architecture in other locations which I will visit until late afternoon.

Stepping out, I began to open my map and stirred my intention to visit Mehtab Bagh, a charming park which was the best point to enjoy the beauty of Taj Mahal.

Let me show you where it is!

5 Agra’s Tourist Attraction in 10 Hours

SEVERE……….

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 .

Fog calamity in India

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.

1. Taj Mahal

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.

Taj Mahal was captured from Mehtab Bagh.

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“.

A building which inspires architectural style of Taj Mahal.

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 !!!!

3. Yamuna River

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.

Considered by Hindus as the Goddess Yamuna.

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. .

4. Mehtab Bagh

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 was said that….Shah Jahan would build a Black Taj Mahal in this park. But it was never achieved..

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.

5. Agra Fort

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.

The walled city of Agra Fort….Amazing.

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.

Lima Destinasi Wisata Agra dalam 10 Jam.

PARAHHHHH…..

Badai kabut di utara India telah merampas waktuku lebih dari 6 jam.  Tetapi kejengkelan telak terkalahkan dengan keripuhanku sendiri melawan super dinginnya udara Negeri Nehru itu.

Petaka kabut di India

Jhelum Express menepi di Agra pada 20:30. Pengen denger ceritaku menjajal kereta ekonomi mereka….nanti saja lah….MENGERIKAN !!!.

Tak ada yang bisa kuperbuat malam itu. Suhu yang hampir menyentuh nol derajat Celcius, bahkan udara dengan cepat mendinginkan sajian mie goreng pinggir jalan yang kubeli. Bumbu India yang terkenal menyengat itu bahkan tak mampu kurasakan karena beku mulai menghantam lidah.

Aku bak seorang pengecut yang bersembunyi di balik selimut GoStops Hostel sambil menunggu aliran listrik memenuhi segenap “teman elektronikku”.

Staff Hotel: “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

Aku: “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.

Itu sedikit percakapan serius sebelum aku memasuki kamar, dan percakapan yang sedikit intelektual setelah sebelumnya aku hanya berbicara dengan penumpang kereta yang duduk di depanku dan sopir taxi yang mentransferku dari Stasiun Agra Cantt ke hotel.

—-****—-

OKAY….Kukuruyukkkkk….#perasaanganemuayam.

Automatically, Aku hanya memiliki 10 jam berharga untuk mengeksplorasi Agra dimulai dari jam 7 pagi. Kali ini aku tak akan membenarkan diriku untuk menggunakan transportasi umum….Terlalu mepet….Beruntungnya, aku melakukan sharing cost bersama teman-teman backpacker sekamar untuk jasa taxi yang bersedia di carter hingga sore hari. Karena sore hari, aku akan menuju New Delhi. Aku hanya perlu mengeluarkan Rp. 60.000 untuk biaya transportasiku seharian.

1. Taj Mahal

Tak berani menyentuh air untuk membasuh badan, aku tergopoh memasuki taxi yang sudah siap di depan hostel. Pagi itu….Kabut sangat tebal bahkan matahari pagi tak mampu menyibaknya.

Yes, akhirnya….Aku menuju destinasi idaman turis seluruh dunia….Taj Mahal

Taxi bergerak ke utara menyusuri Agra-Bah Road. Tak jauh, hanya 3.5 km yang tertempuh dalam 15 menit. Taxi berhenti di tepi jalanan, aku hanya ingat dengan papan nama “Malik Tour & Travel” sebagai penanda.

Jasa bajaj seharga Rp. 40.000 menjadi penghubung berikutnya menuju Taj Mahal West Gate Ticket Office. Kulepas Rp. 98.000 untuk mendapatkan tiket masuknya.

Setiap jengkal di Taj Mahal selalu menggoreskan kesan, satu-satunya benda yang sangat mengganggu para wisatawan adalah kabut yang membuat mereka seakan kesal tak bisa mengabadikan dirinya bersama bangunan sangat bersejarah itu.

Taj Mahal tertangkap dari Mehtab Bagh.

Wisata andalan Negara Bagian Uttar Pradesh itu memang sungguh mengesankan. Makam yang didedikasikan untuk Mumtaz Mahal (istri dari kaisar Shah Jahan) sanggup menarik 8 juta wisatawan dari seluruh dunia setiap tahunnya. Salah satu Situs Warisan Dunia UNESCO yang harus kamu kunjungi jika memasuki tanah Mahabharata itu.       

2. Itimad ud Daulah Tomb

Dua jam meresapi dan menikmati keindahan Taj Mahal yang hampir keseluruhannya berbalut marmer putih mematri doktrin di otakku bahwa dunia itu sungguh indah.

Yuk, balik ke hostel untuk berbasuh dan menyantap sajian free-breakfast sederhana yang disajikan hostel. Aku sendiri langsung berkemas check-out dan menaruh backpack di bagasi taxi. Selepas menengok Agra Fort nanti, aku akan langsung bertolak ke New Delhi.

Berada 4.5 km di utara Taj Mahal, situs ini menawarkan ketenangan dan kenyamanan. Tak seperti Taj Mahal yang bising pengunjung. Mirip tapi tak sebesar Taj Mahal menjadikannya dikenal sebagai “Bayi Taj”.

Adalah bangunan yang mengilhami gaya arsitektur Taj Mahal.

Jika Taj Mahal didedikasikan untuk Mumtaz Mahal, maka pembangunan Itimad ud Daulah didedikasikan untuk kakek dari Mumtaz Mahal yang bernama Mirza Ghiyas Beg.

Aku ndak mau bercerita banyak….Datang sendiri aja ya….Yuhuuuuu !!!!

3. Yamuna River

Satu jam bergulir dengan cepatnya. Niatanku untuk segera bergegas menuju destinasi berikutnya kandas. Aku tertegun dengan penampakan sungai kering nan menghampar begitu luas, seakan memamerkan kegagahan kepada semua yang makhluk melihat, melintasi atau bahkan hidup daripadanya.

Terletak di sebelah barat Itimad ud Daulah……Beuh,

Man….Itu Sungai Yamuna….Seumur-umur, aku baru melihat sungai seluas itu.

Didaulat umat Hindu sebagai Dewi Yamuna.

Sungai yang bersumber dari gletser Yamunotri di  Negara Bagian Uttarakhand ini terlihat surut dan terpapar berbagai bentuk limbah seperti plastik dan limbah cair yang mudah diterka dari baunya.

4. Mehtab Bagh

Dua kilometer berikutnya di selatan…..

Menjilat, menyesap dan menelan pelan french fries jalanan berbumbu garam beraroma kari menjadi aktivitas tak pentingku berikutnya….Sisihkan beberapa Rp. 10.000-an untuk mencoba beberapa kuliner ringan jalanan di India !. Kujamin kamu akan terkesan.

Gaes, aku sudah di sisi sebuah taman nan lebar dan romantis….Mehtab Bagh namanya.

Mehtab Bagh” sendiri memiliki makna yang tak jauh dari sepasang kata dalam Bahasa Inggris “Moonlight Garden”….tuh, gimana ga romantis coba?.

Konon…. Shah Jahan akan membangun Black Taj Mahal di taman ini. Tapi tak pernah kesampaian.

Sering menjadi persinggahan sang Raja untuk menikmati keindahan Taj Mahal yang berada di seberangnya dan hanya terpisahkan oleh Sungai Yamuna.

Harga tiket masuk sebesar Rp. 40.000 tidaklah seberapa dibandingkan dengan keindahan taman yang bisa kamu nikmati dengan aman. Aman?….Ya taman ini dijaga dua tentara bersenjata lengkap yang selalu berkeliling taman.

5. Agra Fort

Masala Tea = 90 Rupee ….ini mah Rp. 17.000

Egg Fried Rice = 150 Rupee….yah sekitar Rp. 29.000.

Itulah menu makan siangku di “The Master Chef” Restaurant di bilangan Fatehabad Road sebelum menuju destinasi terakhirku di Agra….#sedih.

Terletak 2.5 km di barat laut Taj Mahal, Agra Fort juga menjadi Situs Warisan Dunia yang sangat menonjol dengan warna merahnya.

Kota berdinding ala Agra Fort….Menakjubkan.

Kamu harus membayar Rp. 98.000 untuk membayangkan secara langsung para kaisar Mughal tinggal di Agra Fort ini.

Berkeliling sepuasnya di dalam Agra Fort sebelum berpisah dengan kota Agra. Aku menelusuri satu demi satu bagian didalam banteng kota ini.

Memasuki Diwan-i-Am bak rakyat Mughal yang sedang berkeluh kesah, atau memasuki Diwan-i-Khas bak tamu penting kerajaan yang sedang dijamu sang raja.

Merasakan kemewahan Jahangiri Mahal yang merupakan istana khusus untuk istri raja, lalu terduduk merelaksasi diri di Anguri Bagh yang pada masanya digunakan oleh para wanita anggota kerajaan sebagai taman kerajaan.

Dan sebagai seorang muslim, aku juga merasa wajib menapaki Moti Masjid didalam Agra Fort sebagai tempat peribadatan segenap anggota kerajaan.

—-****—-

Waktu singkat yang mengenalkanku pada kota kuno di utara India. Kota yang arsitekturnya mempengaruhi banyak kreasi bangunan di seluruh dunia.

Pastikan kamu mengunjunginya lebih lama dariku karena nilai sejarah kota ini begitu tinggi dan tak bisa dinikmati dalam sekejap saja.