Agra, India

January 6. 2017

The Agra train station teemed with persistent beggars and hawkers.  One man, who sat in a wheelchair in the middle of them all, had a lower leg and foot swollen to the size of an elephant’s.  To me this came as a wrenching sight, and then I thought of all the homeless people in Toronto and how they’re mostly hidden from my view.  Our guide told us not to give them money.  Supposedly, many of them are professional beggars.

The glorious Taj Mahal, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a garden tomb for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal,  was our first stop. ( She died died giving birth to their fourteenth child.)

Completed in 1653, it took twenty thousand workers, five hundred kilos of gold and 22 years to build.  It looks spectacular in pictures but it’s sublime when you stand within touching distance.  Its beauty lies in the harmony of the architecture, how light plays on the surface of the white marble and its placement at the far end of an elaborate entrance with its back to the Yamuna river.

The gorgeous Taj Mahal. We went on a weekend when it was busy with local visitors
The intricate details cut into the stone is stunning

But as much as I enjoyed the Taj Mahal the afternoon trek to the nearby Agra Fort engaged me more.  The giant complex with its imposing red sandstone ramparts was built between 1565 and 1573.  This is the palace where Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal and many other monuments, lived and died.  Sadly, in 1666, Jahan died a prisoner in a wing of the fort—within view of the Taj Mahal he had built–to honor his wife–after a war of succession among his four sons.

Emperors of the Mughal dynasty used the Agra Fort as their main residence until 1638, when the capital moved to Delhi



The Agra Fort occupies 94 acres on a semicircular plan. its Its walls are seventy feet high
Bedroom of Shah Jahal, fifth Mogul emperor, was placed under house arrest by his third son after winning a war of succession.  He died in 1666 after being confined for six years.

Then we hustled into our waiting coaches to take us back to the train station for the return trip to Delhi.

January 7, 2018

Back in Delhi, I fell into bed exhausted. The following morning at 8 a.m. sharp we got a tour of Delhi. The highlight was a visit to the Qutub Minar, a  72-meter minaret, in Old Delhi. Built in 1193 after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom it sits among the remains of the city’s oldest mosque, which was once part of an ancient complex.  The craftsmanship they display is beautiful.

The Qutub Minar stands 72-meters tall and contains a spiral staircase of 379 steps
The remains of an ancient mosque complex in Old Delhi is a UNESCO World Heritage site
Construction of the Qutub mosque in Delhi began in 1193 after Islamic conquest of India. It was built on the site of Hindu temple using materials taken from twenty-seven destroyed Hindu and Jain temples.

Then it was off to the airport for our return flight to Mumbai. The coach trip from the airport to our ship, which was docked in Mumbai harbour, took two, long hours–longer than the flight from Delhi to Mumbai.

While I slept the ship wended it way to Goa.

2 thoughts on “Agra, India”

  1. Nice, Elvira. I once spent three days in Delhi on Joe Clark’s round-the-world trip in 1978-9, but didn’t see much. Tories had lost our luggage in Bangkok, so we spent time buying new smalls, etc. And because Globe’s Jeff Simpson broke my portable typewriter, I had to buy an Indian model (cheap, tinny) on the fly. Food was good, poverty upsetting, hotel had an odd odour.


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