Agra, Uttar Pradesh

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It was late afternoon when we arrived after a long hour of drive from New Delhi. Crossing the long bridge covered by the rays of the feisty sun – It looked like a gloomy painting while watching the black birds flying over the bridge, and there was I seated excitedly looking forward to see the famous Taj Mahal.

And we moved to the town proper, where the combination of beauty and human imperfection resembled. Self-realization stroked my thoughts – I was heading to see the most beautiful thing built by humanity, yet, also to see the most unacceptable consequence of modern civilization, poverty. I have seen the same faces of poverty in my own country, but this time, it stroked my inner sensibilities, because I was not expecting to see jolly underprivileged kids and old folks again, not in a majestic place, Agra.

The mood changed when I entered the regal Jaypee Palace Hotel, I felt like a royalty, a prince perhaps, greeted by a servant in a regal-looking Indian dress. When he slightly bowed and said Namaste, I thought I was in a different dimension. The memories I have seen earlier were suddenly erased by a different picture of Agra, a place of luxury, a hidden paradise from a vulgar reality just a few meters away.

After dinner, it was time for us to experience the real Agra. So we went out at night, rented an Indian tricycle for 600 rupees (450 pesos) that brought us around the city. It was 7pm; the weather was cold, where some parts of India were snowing. Most of the city streets were dim, but we felt very safe. I got my first haircut in a traditional Indian barber shop; they were surprised to have their first-ever Filipino customer, and, ahem, they thought I looked like the famous Shahrukh Khan. The highlight of the night trip was our everlasting curiosity of beefless McDonald’s and KFC’s, both still served fried chicken.

And here’s the highlight! We woke up early in the morning and started queuing around 6am at the entrance of Taj. Tourists from all over the world flocked to the gate waiting to see a revelation of what human creativity can offer, in the name of love. It was guarded by high-walls and fortresses, decorated by small minarets. The huge uncovered gate, inside the complex, which looked like a window from a Persian palace was the final entranced to the Taj. From the outside, I got the magical glimpse of Taj, slightly covered by mysterious fog. The view starting from the gate was heavenly-like. It was more than magical, it was surreal, but it was real.

My admiration for Taj was never ending. The symmetrical garden took my breath-away, it gave a superbly excitement on what to expect inside. When I was nearer to the Taj, I felt it was a gigantic artistic creation that fell down from the sky. It’s twice the height of Manila’s CCP. The Qur’anic calligraphy all over the mausoleum was extremely out-of-this-world creation, not even a genius can ever do that kind of art, style and dedication.

Taj Mahal was only a glimpse of what Agra can offer. Not so far away was another UNESCO heritage, the Agra Fort or the Red Fort, it’s a huge-walled-city, where inside were former palaces of Muslim emperors. It’s the place where Emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj was kept in prison by his own son, due to differences in religious thoughts. He was kept in a room, where he could see his beautiful Taj Mahal. Upon entering the Fort, I realized that those huge walls and huge gates of kingdoms and walled-cities I have seen in the LOTR trilogy, Troy, Gladiator & other similar movies were all real.

Suddenly, I was facing an ancient city. It was unbelievably perfectly organized and planned city on top of the hill. It was another world-heritage site, the Fatehpur Sikri, where small palaces of the emperor’s wives – one Hindu, one Christian and one Muslim lived together in a community. Each palace represents a tremendous showcase of ancient art, design – a replica of their religious beliefs.

Agra is guarded by gigantic walls, composed of different walled-cities. For Agra’s golden years until today’s overly-meaningful world, Agra still manage to give beauty, inspiration, and the opportunity to learn knowledge from the past – it’s a triumph, it’s sorrow, and most of all, the immortal power of love.

I almost forgot the hassles and haggles outside those gigantic walls. #

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The traditional Indian barber shop. They put too much ointment, but it was really fun

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My friend with the tricycle driver

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The hotel at dawn

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Early morning scene outside Taj gate

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Friends in front of the grand gate to Taj

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Look at that amazing view from the gate’s door

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Reflection

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And that’s me

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And another me doing the jump shot

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Our head shot. LOL

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Look at the Quránic verses, inside and outside of Taj

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And me doing some stupid pose

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At the back of Taj is a river

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The symmetrical graden, a view from the Taj

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The Agra Fort

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The huge gate of the Fort

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This one is like a scene in a Hollywood movie

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Indian school boys bumming in Agra Fort

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Watch out for Indian paparazzis, they will secretly take a photo of yours, and when you go out, there is no way but to pay and take that photo as a souvenir

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At Fatehpur Sikri

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One of the ancient drawings of the Hindu wife

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The city center of Fatehpur Sikri

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Amazing interior of a restaurant where we had our lunch

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70 thoughts on “Agra, Uttar Pradesh

  1. I’m so fascinated with India’s culture, people and of course their food. By seeing your lovely pictures, it makes me and my friend more excited for our first vacation to India in August and explore it for 18 days. Taj Mahal and Jaipur are definitely on our list, along with Mumbai, Bangalore and Goa! We’re hoping to backpack with you soon 🙂

    1. Thank you, Jasmine, enjoy India. Sure, i am planning to backpack Mongolia, Nepal or Thai-Viet-Laos-Cambodia etc, mga isang buwan siguro. Pero hanap muna ako milyones. haha

      1. Heard from Indian friends that Nepal is great, as well as Bhutan. Siguro Bhutan ung next destination namin 🙂 More power to you and to your blog 🙂 hahaha!

    1. hello cebuonlinebulletin, salamat kaayo, way lang kasuya kay maluya ka ana LOL. Nikon rana siya, wala koy lens lens, nanghuram raman ko ana, kay wakoy ikapalit ug dslr, labaw na lens.

  2. Hi there, thank you for dropping by my travel blog. Ganahan ko sa imong Taj Mahal adventures. I was set to go to Kerala, but na late akong visa. Nobody told me about the on-arrival visa until it was too late. My dream destination is the Holi Festival karong October kay so darn good magpahugaw hugaw sa colored na abo. 😀

    Padayon sa lakwatsa, and keep safe in your travels.

    P.S. If Pagadian has the rocket launcher tricycle (pahangad), ang sa Koronadal mubo kaayo mura kag magsayad sa lupa. Let me know when ka mapadpad dito sa Mindanao. 😀 😀

  3. OMG! I am so inggit! The other day lang, I was googling this place. Tapos nakita ko yung friend ko sa FB na nag post ng pic niya at eto ang back ground. At kahit dito sa WP ito pa din ang nakikita ko. Ang saya saya naman, looked like you really had a great time, ang cool ng head shot niyo, at wala akong masabi sa photo mo with Ronald at ang iyong stupid pose, lol!

    Thank you for sharing the photos and the experience 🙂 More to check here on your site!

      1. Sorry for replying so late… I have been busy at hindi ako masyado maka visit. Yay! Well then I am excited to see the rest of India, but since hindi pa siya possible any time soon, I can just tour your blog! 🙂

  4. Hi Layas Na, you captured the trip so good. it shows in your blog. It was amazing trip in India. But one city that succesfully make me lost is still Manila..heheh..

  5. I love this post and your pictures! India is on my travel bucket list and I definitely want to see the Taj Mahal. This post made me want to realize this dream sooner, if only.

  6. Hi Layas Na … this is a wonderful post, loved the photos and learning about Agra and the people of India.

    Thank you for the visit to my blog and for the follow.
    blessings ~ maxi

  7. Ah! Agra… I wanna go to India to see the Taj Mahal but half of me doesn’t really want to. Reading your post and seeing those amazing pics, I’m even more confused now… in a good way. 🙂 India, someday. Keep up the good work of showing us the world through your lens and stories. 🙂 Ang saya lang maging pulubi kung ang pulubi ay gaya mo. hehe

  8. Kinda funny how our tricycles aren’t passenger-friendly in the ergonomics department compared to those in India and Thailand, but ohwells.

    And I don’t know, the chaos of India kinda grows on you – it’s like Quiapo, only grittier maybe (and more humid I’m guessing)? Can you tell I’ve been watching too many travel shows 😀

    1. Hi newspapermache, thank you for commenting. India’s weather is different from us, they have winter. You have to try the tricycle in Pagadian City in Mindanao, ibang level ang excitement dun.

      1. “You have to try the tricycle in Pagadian City in Mindanao, ibang level ang excitement dun.”

        OK sana kung barya lang ang pang-domestic flight papunta do’n 😀 Sana talaga maabutan ko ang araw na magkaroon ng interconnected national railways sa ‘tin 😀

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