Agra

Posted on February 27, 2014

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Agra is famed for the Taj Mahal. A beautiful marble white domed structure commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It took thousands of labourers to build it and years too. The project was to commemorate his third wife a Persian woman, Mumtaz, who died giving birth to his 14th child!!

When I asked, the locals said she was about 38 years old at the time – eek my age – when she “expired” (their word not mine). And I have no doubt most women would expire if they pushed that many times. She must have started really early on.

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There is absolutely no denying how bloody amazing this monument is. I was literally blown away by all its glory. I think I must have sat and gawped at it for about an hour. Each year there is an estimated 3m people who come through these gates. The crowds are full on, but a mid afternoon visit seems the best time around 4pm, because it is after the mad lunchtime rush and before the sunset lot pile in. Also be warned there are irritating and aggressive touts on the route, if you can ignore them then you won’t be disappointed.

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The Indian government does insult their visitors though. The admission fee is 750 rupee, which is only £7.50 but the cost to a local is just 20 rupee which is 20p. Says it all really. Your ticket does include an official guide so you should ignore the sleazy, creepy men desperate to get work as a ‘guide’.

Agra is hectic, I’m not sure as a city I like it that much. The tourism here appears to breed corruption and countless opportunists. I can imagine that there is definitely an underbelly of crime if you were to get led astray. Shame really.

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One site that is seriously under-rated or simply overlooked is Fatehpur Sikri it is on the way to the Taj and everyone should stop to look at this site. Yet again another man building a shrine in tribute to his third wife after she bore him a son. Thank goodness that habit has stopped or we’d run out of land.

Joking aside it is breath-taking. But once again be warned there are throngs of hawkers.

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Posted in: India