Overnight trip to Agra and the Taj Mahal

We had a few days before our India Tiger Safari started (to be posted about later) and needed something to do near Delhi.  Since Agra is close to Delhi I thought it would be a good idea to see the Taj Mahal.

A quick google search turned up a company called Delhi Magic.  I e-mailed them to ask about doing an overnight tour to visit the Taj, Agra Fort, etc.  After a few e-mails back and forth I asked the question.  ”Does this also include all entrance fees?  Taj, Agra Fort, etc…”.  To which the owner of Delhi Magic responded, “No they are not. It’s a substantial amount of money and if we had wanted to include them, we would have specified it.”  That response really put me off as being very rude and unprofessional.  She could have simply said no they are not and then simply listed the various entrance fees.  Maybe its a language thing but either way I wasn’t about to give my money to them.  I’m glad they ticked me off because the guide I found in the end was fantastic.

I then went to the tripadvisor forums and found a bunch of glowing reviews of a local guide in Agra, Sunil Gupta.  He was an excellent guide and helped arrange everything for our overnight trip.  If you are heading to Agra, look no further for a guide.  Sunil is your man.  You will be very happy with your choice.  You can contact him via his tripadvisor profile. Sunil arranged for us to visit the following during our overnight tour: the Agra Fort, Baby Taj, Taj Mahal, Fatehpursikri, and Akbar’s Mausoleum.

After a pickup from our hotel in Delhi at 7:30 am we made the 4 hour drive down to Agra.  Our first visit, after checking in at the amazing The Oberoi Amarvilas, was the Agra Fort.  For a little history of the fort check out the detailed wikipedia article.

View of the Taj from the Agra Fort

The detail of the inlaid semi precious stones on the walls of all of these sights are amazing.  It’s hard to imagine the amount of skill and manpower needed to create all of this. Given that a small table top with this type of detail can easily cost over $10,000, I can’t imagine what it would cost today to replicate some of these sights.

inlaid semiprecious stone carvings

Which one to buy??

Since we were so intrigued he took us to a shop that still does this type of work.  I’m always a little skeptical when a guide takes us to “a shop he knows”.  However, with Sunil, he wasn’t pushy and only took us there because we wanted to go.  There was never any pressure to buy anything… even though we did buy a cute little elephant.  Actually it wasn’t so little… of course she chose the biggest one on the left.

We then went to the Baby Taj which looks like its named.  It’s said that this was the inspiration of the other, bigger Taj.

Baby Taj

The next morning we got up early for our visit to the Taj Mahal.  We got some pretty good views of the Taj from the Agra Fort and from our hotel but seeing it up close was breath taking.  No tripods were allowed but I was able to take a few handheld HDR shots.  This would have been a perfect shot if there were no people in it but I’m to lazy to clone them all out or get up early enough to be the first in line.

HDR of Taj Mahal

Here are a few more pics from around the Taj Mahal.

Taj Mahal

Back of the Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

View from the Taj back to the main entrance

and of course… you need to get the same shot every other tourist has of picking up the Taj.

Miki picking up the Taj

One of the major downsides of visiting big tourist areas are the extremely pushy vendors trying to sell their crap.  Miki always handles it with a smile…

We continued our tour of Agra with visits to Fatehpur Sikri and Akbar’s Mausoleum.  Both were interesting sights but after seeing the Taj they just didn’t compare.


One of the cool stories Sunil told us about Fatehpur Sikri was about where Mughal emperor Akbar slept.  His bed was elevated off the ground and every night they filled it with water.  A kind of old school motion detection system.  Then Miki asked a question that seemed to stump the guide, “what if he has to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night?”.  Only a question Miki would asked.  He wasn’t sure but assumed there would be some path for him to use to reach a safe place to do his business.  I guess they had a don’t pee in the pool rule back then as well.

Mughal emporer Akbar's king size bed in Fatehpursikri

After seeing where Akbar slept when he was alive we went to where he is currently sleeping.  Akbar’s Mausoleum.

Akbar's Mausoleum

Overall it was a great overnight tour and gave us something fun to do before we started the main reason we travelled to India… our tiger safari. Stay tuned for some of my best wildlife photography yet.

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3 Responses to “Overnight trip to Agra and the Taj Mahal”

  1. Sunil Gupta says:

    Amazing pictures Nathan, very well done.

  2. For more information about India, Agra, Travel, Tour Packages to India and travel tips: http://www.wildplanettours.com/travel/tour/destination/central-india/major-cities/agra/agra/india

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