Mother-In-Law’s First Trip to India: Visiting the Agra Fort, Taj Mahal & Akbar’s Tomb

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Emily:  On our first day in Agra we had breakfast at the hotel and went to the Agra Fort.  It was still foggy, so we planned on visiting the Taj Mahal in the afternoon.  The Agra Fort is one of my favorite sights to see in Agra because it’s like stepping back in time.  I also enjoyed meeting the monkeys who now live in the fort.

A Day in Agra

At The Taj

Trip Report Index:

A Day in Agra

Connie Outside the Agra Fort

The Agra Fort is huge, and I love the Moghul architecture.

A Day in Agra

The Agra Fort

It was foggy that morning, which gave the fort a mysterious feel of old times’ past.

A Day in Agra

A Foggy Morning

I love the scalloped archways.  I wish more buildings had this decorative architecture.

A Day in Agra

Judi Inside the Agra Fort

After visiting the fort, we joked with Aunt Judi & my mom that we were going to see the Taj Mahal.  They were really excited to see it!

So we took them to the tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah and asked them what they thought of it!  My mom said it looked smaller in the pictures.  Then, we told them that we were at the baby Taj, and not the actual Taj Mahal.  It was funny to see the look on her face when we told her it was not the real thing!

A Day in Agra

The Taj or Not?

Afterwards, we went to see the garden behind the real Taj.  It was still foggy, so we couldn’t see much.  There is a river which separates the Taj from the garden.  But it was nice to get away from the crowds and walk behind the Taj.

A Day in Agra

Behind The Taj Mahal

The gardens were nicely manicured.

A Day in Agra

A View to a Taj

On the way back, we passed a family of monkeys!

A Day in Agra

A Family of Monkeys

After a busy morning of sightseeing, we went to McDonald’s for lunch.  We love seeing what different food the McDonalds in different countries have.

A Day in Agra

McDonald’s Menu

Notice the Spicy Range and McSpicy!

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Spicy McDonald’s

We ordered McAloo Tikki burgers which are very good potato patty hamburgers.  We also ordered fries, a snack wrap, a liter of Mango juice (Maaza) and desserts.

A Day in Agra

Mazza and a McAloo Tikki Burger

Daraius and I always think it’s fun trying the McDonald’s everywhere we go.  I like European McDonald’s because of the croque monsieur and the Toblerone McFlurries.  Yum!

After lunch, we went to the Taj.

We had to first buy tickets at the tourism office which is about a 10 minute walk from the Taj entrance.

A Day in Agra

Buy Your Tickets Here!

There is a booking office where you buy the tickets.  The fee is higher for foreigners, but you get access to a shorter line (well worth it once you see the line for the cheaper tickets), bottled water & shoe covers which are required to wear on the white marble floors of the Taj.  You can also take off your shoes, but the white marble would be very cold to walk on!

A Day in Agra

Ticket Booking Office

Foreigners pay 750 rupees (about $14) for the Taj tickets and Indian nationals pay 20 rupees (about 40 cents).

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Which Ticket For You?

Daraius’ family bought the cheaper tickets, then went back to buy the more expensive ones to get the “fast track” lane benefits.  The line for regular ticket holders snaked around and we thought they might have to wait for hours!

Daraius:  I was walking back to get the more expensive tickets when a young man who worked at one of the handicraft shops asked me if I wanted a ride on his motorbike to the ticket office.  It was a 10 minute walk each way, so I accepted after negotiating 100 Rupees (~$2) for the trip.  It was an exhilarating ride, with the cold wind in my face, as we weaved in and around people and barricades to get to the ticket office.

A Day in Agra

This is The Front of the Line!

Emily:  There are separate security screening for men and women.  We “foreign” ladies got through the line and security in about 5 minutes. We went at one of the busiest parts of the day, at 3:00 pm, when the fog had lifted and you could actually see the Taj.

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Where Are You?

We wanted to go in the morning, but there was so much fog that it would have been difficult to see anything.  Once we got in, a group of schoolgirls wanted their picture taken.  They enjoyed practicing their English with me and were surprised when I said, “Tumara nam kya he?” which means “what is your name?”

A Day in Agra

Emily & The School Girls!

As we continued walking, we came upon the second entryway.  The building was made of beautiful sandstone, and was very well kept.  I loved the detail of the inscriptions written into the building and the colorful flowers inlaid in the marble.

A Day in Agra

Entryway

As we went inside the entryway, we were suddenly greeted with a beautiful view of the Taj.

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Our First Glance at The Taj

It was like we had stepped into a beautiful dream!

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The Taj Mahal

Daraius found a photographer as we walked into the Taj.  He came around with us to take pictures.  It cost $1.30 per picture and we got the digital images as well.  There are lots of people who do this, so it will be easy to find someone.

Daraius:  There are lots of photographers who will come up to you.  This was my 3rd visit to the Taj, and I was curious to have some good photos of us taken.  The photographers know the good spots to take pictures (you can also find them by seeing where people congregrate for pictures), but work (read: hustle to get you next in line) to get you seated in those coveted positions as well.

I could have bargained more and got the price down a bit more, but I felt that 70 rupees for the print and digital image was worth it and I wanted to reward our entrepreneurial photographer who got some good pictures for us.

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Business is Good

Emily:  The sight of the Taj was awe inspiring and I can see why it is one of the seven wonders of the world.

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Wow!

We went around with our photographer and took lots of pictures.  After a group shot, he asked Daraius to pose behind me. 

A Day in Agra

Daraius & Emily

We then got a picture with me, my mom, and Aunt Judi. 

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At the Taj

Daraius and I got one more shot together. 

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Daraius & Emily at the Taj

My mom even posed for the fun shots, where you look like you’re holding the Taj by the top, ready to pull it off. 

Daraius:  I think these shots are silly, but…

A Day in Agra

A Day in Agra

Emily:  After several pictures, we continued on our tour.  The sun was starting to go down and we still had a lot to see! 

A Day in Agra

Sunset by the Taj

When you walk on the white marble you’re required to remove your shoes or wear booties.  I was lucky that I didn’t have to take off my shoes—the marble was so cold!  And the booties were quite the fashion statement. 

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Emily’s Booties!

The line to see the tombs inside was very long, but the higher priced tickets get you access to the much shorter line. 

A Day in Agra

Line to Get Inside

But it was dark inside and there isn’t much to see, so you can skip this part if you’re running out of time.

A Day in Agra

Behind the Taj

After roaming the Taj, we got some decorative umbrellas on the side of the road along with mini Taj Mahals. 

A Day in Agra

Judi Shopping

We browsed some more souvenirs. 

A Day in Agra

Emily Shopping

After shopping, we went to dinner at KFC – these quick meals were just what we were in the mood for since it was cold and we wanted to get back to the hotel and go to bed.

A Day in Agra

KFC in Agra

The menu included the regular staples, and also some spicy “curry” chicken.

A Day in Agra

KFC Menu

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KFC

Daraius ordered the curry chicken, which was fried!  He then put more spices on top.

A Day in Agra

Curry Chicken

They also had good, but messy brownies! KFC was nice and warm inside the restaurant and we weren’t looking forward to our unheated hotel.

The next morning, we drove back to Delhi.  On the way, we stopped at Sikundra to see Akbar’s tomb.  Akbar was the third Moghul and regarded as the one of the best Moguls.

We went early in the morning and it was very ethereal to see the looming mausoleum against the thick fog.  We approached the first entryway. 

A Day in Agra

Akbar’s Tomb

We then walked to the tomb. 

A Day in Agra

Akbar’s Tomb

It was very beautiful, and I admired the intricate carvings on the structures. 

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A Tomb

After visiting Akbar’s tomb, we continued on our way and  the driver stopped at a tourist shop for tea and snacks.  The food and handicrafts were outrageously expensive, so we didn’t buy anything.  The drivers likely received a commission for sales at the shop, so we left in 5 minutes and asked the drivers to stop at a little shop on the side of the road which had chips, biscuits, and chocolates for much less.

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22 responses to “Mother-In-Law’s First Trip to India: Visiting the Agra Fort, Taj Mahal & Akbar’s Tomb

  1. Good grief! Everyone’s wearing jackets! Why was it so cold? When did you go?

  2. When you did your Bora Bora trip report series, I would think to myself…wow, those are nice pictures. When I read the India trip reports, I think, “Wow! I wanna go there!” Thanks for mentioning the people you can hire to take your picture, I haven’t heard of that. Everything looks so wonderful and I appreciate your attention to detail!

  3. Thanks Daraius and Emily for sharing, fondly brought back our Taj visit memories from our visit last November. Looks like you had some haze/fog during your visit.

  4. you have a bad driver, driver should be loyal to you and not worry about his side business.
    since you speak the language, you should give it to him straight.

  5. Oh, so you have a driver, first mention of this. And here I thought Daraius was driving. 😀 Perhaps you could explain this for those of us hoping to go to Agra. Did you rent the van, and then get a driver, or do you hire a driver who has a van? Did you go to the rent-a-van counter at the airport, or use Priceline? Did the driver stay with you the whole 4 days? Would this work for us as well, or do you need to be familiar with local customs? Inquiring minds want to know.

  6. All the shots from the “photographer” at the Taj were all crooked, leaning to the right.

  7. Thanks for sharing the Agra trip. I was also wondering why it was so busy and cold. December makes sense.

    My wife and I went in May 2011 when it is crazy hot — February/March is probably the best time to visit Northern India. Our itinerary focused on Rajasthan and we commuted using a private driver van from Delhi > Agra > Jaipur > Jodhpur > Udaipur > Delhi. The Taj Mahal is truly amazing as are the historical forts. If you love history and culture, this is a phenomenal part of India to visit. Be forewarned the city of Agra itself is a dump. There’s a great, inexpensive Taj Hotel property. This was our first time staying at a Taj property (we stayed at 3 of them), and they have different tiers of hotels. Every Taj property provided Four Seasons-like service at the price of a Holiday Inn. Not a great hotel points program, but amazing hotel stays that each of you should experience.

    By the way, we found Castle and King Tours (email: castleandking at hotmail.com) using TripAdvisor for the transportation aspect. We booked our own hotels. My wife and I are of Indian descent, and this tour firm caters specifically to foreigners. Great, flexible English-speaking drivers that will take you anywhere you want. The vans are brand-new and include water and occasional snacks for the long drives. In every city, a local tour guide meets you and is the expert of that town. Prices are very reasonable — I think we negotiated approximately $600 for 2 of us with a full-time for 7 days in a comfortable van.

    Those thinking about how to get to Delhi, United has a direct flight from Newark and I believe AA still has a direct flight from Chicago.

  8. Glad you all enjoyed the post! Seeing all of the historic monuments was one of my favorite parts of this trip.

  9. Robert Hanson

    @AAP Thanks, that answers my question above.

    @Daraius and Emily you don’t need to respond to my previous question now.

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  17. I have a list of about ten or so countries that I absolutely must visit someday… lately I’ve been feeling more and more like I need to add India to that list… and this trip report may have just made up my mind!

  18. Can you provide the exact name of the Taj hotel you stayed at in Agra? If there is a link to the hotel’s website that would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

  19. Thanks Million for share your personal Exp for Agra Trip.No doubt Agra is the Famous tourist place in India.For next travel you can consider once about Wudstay Travels.

  20. great post, may i ask where/what hotel you stayed in in Agra? or what part of town you recommend? cheers