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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.
Trip Report Index:
- Introduction & Planning
- Kansas City to Chicago
- American Airlines Flagship Lounge
- American Airlines Flagship Service From Chicago To London
- British Airways First Class from London to Mumbai
- Shopping in Bombay
- Eating in Bombay
- Sights in Bombay
- Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa
- Park Hyatt Goa, Park Suite
- Park Hyatt Goa, Park King
- Park Hyatt Goa, Park Hyatt Goa Activities
- Eating In & Around the Park Hyatt Goa
- Radisson Blu, Agra
- A Day in Agra
- Hyatt Regency Delhi
- 2 Days in Delhi
- Eating in Delhi
- United Business Class Back to the US
- Conclusion and Blog Giveaway
The Agra Fort is huge, and I love the Moghul architecture.
It was foggy that morning, which gave the fort a mysterious feel of old times’ past.
I love the scalloped archways. I wish more buildings had this decorative architecture.
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!
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.
The gardens were nicely manicured.
On the way back, we passed 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.
Notice the Spicy Range and McSpicy!
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.
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.
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!
Foreigners pay 750 rupees (about $14) for the Taj tickets and Indian nationals pay 20 rupees (about 40 cents).
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.
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.
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?”
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.
As we went inside the entryway, we were suddenly greeted with a beautiful view of the Taj.
It was like we had stepped into a beautiful dream!
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.
Emily: The sight of the Taj was awe inspiring and I can see why it is one of the seven wonders of the world.
We went around with our photographer and took lots of pictures. After a group shot, he asked Daraius to pose behind me.
We then got a picture with me, my mom, and Aunt Judi.
Daraius and I got one more shot together.
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…
Emily: After several pictures, we continued on our tour. The sun was starting to go down and we still had a lot to see!
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.
The line to see the tombs inside was very long, but the higher priced tickets get you access to the much shorter line.
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.
After roaming the Taj, we got some decorative umbrellas on the side of the road along with mini Taj Mahals.
We browsed some more souvenirs.
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.
The menu included the regular staples, and also some spicy “curry” chicken.
Daraius ordered the curry chicken, which was fried! He then put more spices on top.
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.
We then walked to the tomb.
It was very beautiful, and I admired the intricate carvings on the structures.
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.