Aka the “Mini Taj”, “Baby Taj” or “Jewellery Box”, this marble tomb was the forerunner of the Taj Mahal. It too lies on the banks of the Yamuna in Agra, but far fewer tourists bother to make the short taxi journey. Which is a shame, because the pietra dura of this translucent marble tomb is even more intricate, and the ornamentation even more ornate, than its better known cousin.
Noor Jahan, wife of Jehangir, built the tomb between 1622 and 1628 for her father, Mirza Ghiyath Beg, “Itmad-ud-daula” (Pillar of the Empire). It is smaller than the Taj, but in its own way just as impressive.
Opening: Daily from sunrise to sunset
Location: Yamuna river – east side, Agra
Price: Rs 110 foreign tourists
Akbar’s ‘City of Victory’ stands alone on a rocky plateau overlooking fields of dust and rocks. In 1569, Akbar built Fatehpur Sikri close to the residence of Shaikh Salim Chisti, the Sufi saint who helped him produce a male heir. It remained the capital of Akbar's Mughal Empire until 1585. Today women still tie a length of wool to the marble lattice windows of the saint’s tomb, in the hope that they too will fall pregnant with a boy child.
Sculpted from blood-red sandstone, the audience halls, palaces, astronomer’s kiosk and Panch Mahal were a powerful reminder to his subjects of Akbar's strength. As masculine as the Taj is feminine, Fatehpur Sikri is an exquisite and unique example of Mughal architecture and enterprise.
When I traveled to India in January 2012 Indiasomeday was an excellent choice. I contacted Abbas and Sneha on very short notice to arrange my trip to India (golden triangle) and their support was outstanding - from booking accommodation, flights and trains, to sending me tricks and tips I used in my journey. Their responsiveness and support was just great.
A fabulous homestay just outside the centre of Agra, but a short autorickshaw ride from all the sights.
The Singh family have lived here for many years, and are genial hosts with a wealth of knowledge of the area. The property, originally built for British Army top brass, is cool and spacious, with spotlessly clean bedrooms equipped with everything a traveller needs, including ensuite bathrooms, ice cold A/C and a TV. Breakfast is plentiful, and supper can be provided.
The warmth of the welcome cannot be overstated, and even though we were only there for three days, we left feeling part of the family, as cliched as it may sound. Wholeheartedly recommended.
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