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Agra: Land of the Taj

It all started with a desire to experience the lately opened Yamuna Expressway to Agra. As we were planning to go to Agra, I suggested going on 1st September. It was one day after full moon and we could see Taj Mahal in moonlight as Taj remains open to be visited during two nights before and after full moon.

Agra: Land of the Taj-1

I have been to Agra a number of times and have visited most of the monuments already. Only well known place left was Itmad-Ud-Daulah’ Tomb and we went there straightaway. It is considered to be the inspiration for Taj Mahal and is also referred to as “Mini Taj” by some. Next, we went to Mehtab Bagh, which is located exactly opposite to Taj Mahal on the other side of the Yamuna river. There is also the foundation of a Black Taj Mahal here which was commissioned by Aurangzeb but was never really built. We came here in order to capture Taj Mahal with its majestic frame producing a beautiful reflection in the river. Also, it makes sense to visit this side when you wish to avoid the crowds at Taj and wish to absorb this brilliant piece of art in peace. With the mild evening sun illuminating the dome with its last rays, we managed to capture some good frames. At 9 in the night, we reached Shilpagram from where the visitors are taken in electric vans to the eastern gate. At 9:30, we were escorted by armed guards towards the red sandstone platform of Taj Mahal. We can see Taj Mahal only from this platform as it illuminates in the silvery moonlight. Though marred by the hazy weather, the experience was still good. Back at hotel, we slept early as we planned to capture some pictures of Taj Mahal as sun rises over the eastern mosque.

We woke up at 5 am and immediately prepared ourselves for a photography tour of Taj. However, weather was still hazy and we entered Taj hoping that the haze will clear soon. Sadly, it never cleared and we had a normal visit to the majestic symbol of love. Even at 6 am, the place wasn’t devoid of crowds and there were at least 300-400 people already there before us. One very sad picture that I got there was of the many corridors inside the main dome of Taj Mahal. There were huge stains of Tobacco spits there. Later, we visited the Red Fort. The view of Taj Mahal from here is not to be missed. Also, we were lucky to see the brilliant Sheesh Mahal from inside. Finally, we left the commanding fort after two hours having visited only 25% of the total forts. Rest 75% of the forts are under Indian Army’s possession and not open to general public.

A neatly landscaped Yamuna Expressway

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