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When asked "where is the Taj Mahal", anyone will be able to tell you that it's in India, but not so many people would be able to name the city. Agra is about 2 hours by train from Delhi, or 4-5 hours driving, and is the site of that world-famous mausoleum.

We only spent a day in Agra, but that was sufficient to see the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and the nearby ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri. Agra itself is highly industrial, and does not have much else worth hanging around for.

Taj Mahal

The classic view of the Taj, as seen from the gatehouse when you walk in. Taj Mahal literally means "Crown Palace".

The reflecting ponds were unfortunately mostly dry when we were there, but I managed to get a reasonable shot by lying on the ground and holding my camera just above the water.

Reflecting pond


The Taj Mahal sits on a square based podium, it looks approximately the same from each side.

Some of the stones used to make the patterns on the wall catch the light and shine brightly. The same techniques as used on the Taj are used to make stone tables for tourists.

Shiny details


Around the back of the Taj Mahal. Each of the four minarets was built at a slight incline away from the main building, so that if there was an earthquake they would fall outwards, to mitigate overall damage.

I was surprised by how big the Taj Mahal is, as can be seen in this photo of one of the vaulted recesses.



Detail of the upper walls and the dome. I was very impressed with how good a condition it was in, after nearly 400 years of weathering and pollution.

The river at the back of the Taj had all but dried up, and there were a few cows roaming around. Through the haze you can see the red walls of Agra Fort in the distance.

Dried river

Gate house

Looking back from the podium of the Taj Mahal to the gate house, with its 22 small domes. Princess Diana's bench is in there somewhere.

A last glance through the gateway, you can see tiny little people walking around the base of the building.

Through the archway

Agra Fort

Agra Fort itself, I think this photo looks very colonial with the horse and cart in the foreground.

There were a lot of chipmunks going around the place, some of the braver ones would eat seeds from your hand.


Agra pollution

The local pollution does its best to thwart views of the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort, but you can just see it through the haze behind the trickle of the river.

A corridor in the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, outside Agra. The city was built in the 1500s by an over-zealous emperor, inhabited for about 15 years and then abandonded as there just wasn't enough water.

Fatehpur Sikri

Multiple tiers

One of the multiple-tiered platform type buildings. The colour and feel of the place reminded me of "Prince of Persia 2". This is the Panch Mahal windcatcher tower.

A step well with some unsavoury looking water at the bottom. That didn't stop some of the local guys from leaping in for the entertainment of the tourists.

Step well


A smaller pond and other pavilion-type buildings. These are the Audience Chambers, performances were carried out on the island.

Outside the main city is the Jama Masjid, or central mosque, a very impressive looking place.

Jama Masjid

Red sun

The red sun sets over the red ghost city.

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2008