Hello friends! Welcomes to Hindiflare! This is your host Pritesh.
I am in Agra right now. For the next 5 days, I am going to be in Agra and I will try my best to explore Agra thoroughly. I am going to start my first day in Agra with Taj Mahal. I am waiting for the battery rickshaw to come, which will take me to the Taj.
There are 3 gates for entering the Taj Mahal complex. I entered through the East Gate, which you can see behind me. On my left hand is the South Gate. And right opposite to me is the North Gate. The paths from these 3 gates converge right in front of this huge gate, called the ‘Badshahi Darwaza’ (door of the emperor). The Taj Mahal is the biggest attraction in Agra. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, in the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world. It took 22 years to make. Its construction was completed in 1653. Right now, I am standing hardly 50 metres from the Taj. There is a mosque on my left hand side. Right opposite to it, on my right hand side, is a similar-looking building. It is called Mehmaan-khana or Guest House. Local Muslims can come on Friday to offer namaz at the mosque. Taj Mahal is closed for tourists on Friday.
Looking from a far, this main building of Taj Mahal looked square or rectangular shaped to me. But on reaching here, I’ve found out that it is neither square nor rectangular but octagonal in shape. It is shaped like an octagon because of the popular belief mentioned in Islam that there are 8 gates to enter into (jannat) heaven. Jannat means heaven. That is the reason why the shape of this building is octagonal. The beautiful structure that you are seeing right in front, that was built by Shahjahan’s grandfather, Emperor Akbar.
Shahjahan spent the last eight years of his life in that building, called Agra Fort as a prisoner, under house arrest. The period was from 1658 to 1666. Agra Fort is 3kms away from the Taj Mahal. This place is also called the Red Fort of Agra. Mughal Emperor Akbar built this Fort in 1565. This Fort got constructed over the reigns of four emperors – Akbar, Jehangir, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb.
The parts with white marble in Agra Fort have been constructed during the regime of Shahjahan. This is the place where, from 1658 to 1666 Shahjahan was kept under house arrest by his son, Aurangzeb. In the Agra Fort, there is a Diwan-e-Khaas too (court room for VIPs).
It is also called the Parliament House of that time. There are two seats here. Black seat, for the emperor… …and the white seat facing it, for the Prime Minister. The emperor used to hold court with his ministers here. I didnot know that in 1666, Shivaji met Aurangzeb here in Diwan-e-Khaas. From here, you can enjoy a beautiful viewe of the Taj Mahal. By road, there are two roads from here to the Taj. East Gate, 6kms away and the West Gate, 1.5 to 2kms away.
This is the court of the Mughal Emperor for the commoners. Right up there, Mughal Emperors, from Akbar to Aurangzeb used to sit here during their respective regimes. The Prime Minister used to sit here and the rest of the ministers around here. The commoners used to sit there in the front. This is the place where the Mughal Emperors used to meet and listen to the common man.
In the Agra Fort, from 7pm to 8pm, there is a light and sound show in Hindi language. Since I am going to be in Agra for 3-4 days, I will definitely try and come in the evening to see the show. Here at Agra Fort. (inaudible). I’ve just come out after watching the light & sound show. The Hindi show is between 7 and 8 pm and the English show is from 8pm to 9pm. The light & sound show had a very interesting explanation of the Mughal empire history…. …in the Agra Fort.
I noticed two things mainly, which were completely new for me for my particular general knowledge. First thing, I got to know that Humayun, during his lifetime did a very unique thing. He made a Bhishti (waterman) the emperor for half a day. This was because the Bhishti had saved the emperor’s life. That was one thing I wasn’t aware of.
One more thing that I noticed was that this show did not show the history beyond Shahjahan’s reign. If they had included that part too, the excitement surrounding the show would’ve increased further. By the way, among all the light & sound shows that I’ve seen so far during my traveling my personal favorite among those… …is the show in Delhi’s Purana Qila. I saw it last 3-4 years back, so maybe sometime I will go back and watch it again. If you happen to be staying for the night in Agra, you must come to this show. I’m sure, you’ll like it too.
I have with me the Media incharge, Gurnam Singh. Host: “Sir, can you tell us something about the history of this Gurudwara?” Yes, sure! This gurudwara is dedicated to the memory of Sahib Sri Guru Teg Bahadur. When Guru Teg Bahadur, to protect the Hindu dharma,… …courted arrest from this place in the hands of Hassan Ali at that time, Guru Teg Bahadur gave Hassan Ali a boon that the water in this place would be sweet, not salty. So, Guru Teg Bahadur left from this place to Chandni Chowk, in Delhi, where he was martyred.
The specialty of this place is that a person belonging to any religion any community, caste, is welcome here at all times of the day. And the langar (community kitchen) facility is available 24×7 for the devotees. Wahe Guru ji ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru ji ki Fateh! Right now, I’ve come to the tomb of Mughal Emperor, Akbar. This place is called Sikandra. This place is 15kms away from the Taj Mahal. We took one hour to reach here. I have this gudie with me.
He will take us through this mausoleum. My name is Naresh Kumar. Please come with me. My guide just told me that this whole mausoleum is spread over 123 acres of land. About 100 acres are covered in gardens. And rest, 23 acres have buildings constructed. You can enter through one gate only but there are 3 other gates too… …for decorative purpose. One is on the right, the other on the left and the third one is on the backside of the mausoleum.
This five-storied building is the main mausoleum of Akbar and the white marble work that you see, it was done by Jehangir after Akbar’s death. I am standing just in front of the grave of Akbar. It is quite dark inside here. His grave is 74 feet high & the gate to this building is symmetrical to the grave, straight in front. Whatever we speak here inside, it echoes around for about 6-7 seconds.
You may have heard that even walls have ears but you will see its live example here as the guide told me that if I speak something into that wall in that corner and someone standing diagonally opposite to that corner would hear what I say but coming through the wall. How does it happen? In the corners of these walls, there is a small gap of just 3 inches and inside that is a POP drain made that projects the sound and transfers it through the walls.
And the diamond cuts made on top of those corners work as speakers and project the sound outside too. Mr. Guide, are you able to hear me? Yes, I can hear you. Please tell me when was this grave of Akbar built. (inaudible) Uhh please repeat that! In 1605, Akbar’s corpse was buried here. I can hear you loud and clear. My guide has told me one more interesting fact.
This system of projecting sound through walls this concept was copied from the Golconda Fort in Hyderabad, about 350-400 years ago. Right now, I am standing out side the Buland Darwaza in Fatehpur Sikri. This door is called the Buland Darwaza. Its height is 176 feet. I am seeking the help of my guide in order to understand this monument in detail. He will be explaining to us in detail about Fatehpur Sikri. When Emperor Akbar sat on the throne he was just 13 years old. So, the 13 gumbads (domes) that you see on top there symbolize that.
13 domes. Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of the Mughal Empire at one point of time in history. And it remained a popular place for Sufi saints, who kept coming here. Devotees come from far and wide to seek the blessings at the shrine of Khwaja Salim Chishti. Apart from that you will get to see here palaces,world heritage monuments like the palaces of Rani Jodhabai, Panchmahal,Sheesh Mahal, Hawa Mahal, the seat where Tansen used to sit, as well as Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khaas! At this seat, Tansen used to sing and entertain the emperor.
Also, at the Diwan-e-Aam, there is a beautiful garden too. Fatehpur Sikri is a world heritage site. Right now, I am standing outside the Mankameshwar Temple. Here, it is believed that Lord Shiva placed the Shiv Ling himself, during the Dwaapar yug (era). This temple is located in Agra since ancient times. I am going inside to visit and pay my obeisance at the temple. I am also going to request the Mahant inside to tell us something about the temple’s history.
The history of this temple in Agra city is enhanting in itself. The main thing is when Lord Shiva came here to visit he stayed overnight here and… …and after the night stay Lord Shiva travelled to Vrindavan where Yashoda maa… …showed him young Krishna quite lovingly. On coming back from there, he placed this Shiv ling himself. The same shiv ling, in the present times, is known by the name of Shri Mankameshwar Temple. And it is worshipped daily, adorned with flowers and ornaments, inside the temple.
As per the muhurat, eight poojas (ceremonies) are performed eight times a day, everyday. This temple of Lord Shiva is world famous for its ceremonies, decoration and rituals. The way Shiv ling is adorned here, you won’t find that way anywhere else in the world. This temple is, therefore, famous by the name of Shri Mankameshwar Temple of Agra. I am in Itimad-ud-Daulah right now. It is 5kms away from Taj Mahal. This monument was constructed by Noor Jehan for her father, Mirza Giyas Begh.
Her father’s grave is built here. It took 6 years to make. Mirza Giyas Begh was the security incharge of the treasury during the reign of emperor Jehangir. The name of his post was Itimad-ud-Daulah. It means keeping the treasury safe. The marble used in making this tomb came from that was sourced from Rajasthan & Iran. These are the graves of Noor Jehan’s parents. You can see stone work as well as paintings adorning the walls of this chamber. This monument is also known as Baby Taj.
There is a gate on each of the four sides of the Mausoleum. Beyond the back gate of the mausoleum flows the river Yamuna. Today, I’ve come to Kalakriti to watch a live show on the making of the Taj. This place has live theatre from 6.45 pm to 8 pm daily. This place is a kilometer away from the Taj Mahal. The road leading to this place is called the VIP Road. This is my first experience. I will tell you more after watching the show. (Dialogues) Overall, the show as good.
The show told us about the reasons for building the Taj. Within 45 minutes, the show reveals the life history of Emperor Jehangir. If you plan to come here, I must tell you, there are 3 categories of tickets available. For Rs. 1200, Rs. 1500 and Rs. 1800/- depending upon where you want to sit. That’s it. I am leaving Kalakriti now. Ram Bagh is the oldest Mughal Garden. This garden was earlier known as ‘Araam Bagh.’ First Mughal emperor Babar got this garden made for relaxation. This garden is about 5kms away from the Taj. Whenever you come to this garden, make sure to spend 15 minutes sitting at this place. You can enjoy the view of the river Yamuna while seated here. There is a breeze blowing.
In fact, seated here, one can feel the breeze blowing on our face, which is a pleasant experience in itself. There is greenery, gardens, and this small place to sit here with the Yamuna flowing below. Today, we’ve completed our Agra trip. When I had come here, I thought 3-4 days would be enough to see Agra thoroughly. But I was wrong. It has been 6 whole days for me from Monday morning to today Saturday evening.From Delhi, I came on Delhi-Agra Shatabdi and I’m going back on Gatiman Express train.
This would be my first experience. I’m told it is the fastest train with peak speed going even upto 160kms/hour. The train will leave here at 5.50pm and arrive at Delhi’s Nizamuddin station at 7.30pm. Anyways, my first experience on this train.