The next stops on the itinerary after Jaipur were the cities Fatehpur Sikri, which was one of the former capitals of the Mughal empire for a brief period, and Agra, the city that houses the iconic Taj Mahal.
Driving from Jaipur to Agra with a stop to explore a part of Fatehpur Sikri, is a day trip in-itself. I then spent a day in Agra to visit the Taj Mahal and a couple other comparatively less popular, but totally worth-the-visit, spots.
This whole town is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was entirely built to serve as the Capital of the Mughal empire and has been referred to as a ‘ghost town’ since it’s abandonment. I was there for an afternoon, so I didn’t have much time to explore all the sites in the town. However, I did visit the Panch Mahal, the former residence of Emperor Akbar. The volume of tourists is generally low, and the palace is simple and beautiful all at the same time.
As a side note, there is a general designated parking location from where people take buses to reach the sites. This location is full of souvenir shops and resembles a small market.
I started the next day in Agra with a visit to the Taj Mahal. Here’s a full post on everything you need to know to visit! Monuments in Agra generally use a lot of white marbles and paintings (as seem below).
My next stop was the Agra Fort close to the Taj Mahal. Built for military reasons, to overlook the city and provide security, the fort also became famous for the imprisonment of Emperor Shah Jahan by his son Aurangzeb. It is said that Shah Jahan spent the remaining of his days staring at the Taj Mahal from one of the Fort’s towers.
The fort is overwhelmingly huge with only about 20% being accessible to the public (which was still quite a lot!). Every generation of Mughal emperor added to this structure and so it was constantly being built or renovated for generations.
My final stop in Agra before heading to Delhi was the Tomb of Itmud-ud-Daulah. Often referred to as ‘Baby Taj Mahal’, it is considered as one of the inspirations to the Taj Mahal. The site is not too popular as most tourists make a bee-line for the Taj Mahal and peace out. But, it was worth a stop. After the bustling and crowded Taj, this is a lot more serene and relaxing. I took my time walking around and just taking a moment to admire the architecture and the paintings.