I have wanted to go to Agra for a very long time, for just one reason – the Taj Mahal. But, surprisingly, Agra actually has two other UNESCO World Heritage sites that are incredible in the own rights.
The first one we went to was what’s called the Baby Taj. Or the Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah. See why they call it the Baby Taj?
It’s said that when Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal, saw the Baby Taj, he got his inspiration for the the mausoleum for his wife. Thus the world has both the Baby Taj and the Taj Mahal.
I’m glad we got to see the Baby Taj before we saw the real thing – it’s an incredible mausoleum alone, but I think it would have been something of a downer if we saw it after the Taj Mahal. It’s got an incredible amount of the marble inlay that you can see in the Taj Mahal as well, and it’s got a moat around it! The moat doesn’t have water right now, but apparently they are working on restoring it.
The Baby Taj is also on the river, which makes for amazing views – just like the Taj. The gardens are quite incredible – especially in the heat of India, there’s all sorts of Jasmine and other flowers that make it smell incredible (quite unlike New Delhi).
After we went to the Taj Mahal the next day, we went on to Agra Fort. When I saw this on the itinerary, I was expecting just another fort. Blah blah blah military. Blah blah defense. Et cetera.
But Agra Fort is actually much closer to being a palace. The place is giant, and amazing, and the number of halls and courtyards, each with their own feel is just mind boggling.
There are many areas and rooms where you can see much of the same marble work as the Taj Mahal, and there are also a number of rooms where you can actually see the Taj Mahal itself! It’s breathtaking to be looking out over the river and just glance up to see the world’s greatest monument to love. For me, it really stopped me in my tracks and made me think.
However – I will say, the lack of AC in India when these folks lived in the fort would have been so hard to deal with! There was a lot in the architecture that they tried to add to keep things cool, but still – I missed the AC!
In general, it’s my experience that the rest of the world does not use nearly as much AC as the US. And I feel sad about this. I will be so appreciative of my central air every day when I get home!