Very early this morning, we depart from the hotel and make our way to the Taj Mahal to watch as the sun rises over this extraordinary building. Built by Shah Jahan’s as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal the beauty of this structure is unmatched. We have time to walk the corridors and gardens before continuing on to the Agra Red Fort. With its grand courtyards, royal pavilions and palaces the Agra Fort is a fitting testimony to the Great Moghuls – Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan – during the era when Agra was the capital of the Moghul Empire.
We then travel 35km out of Agra to the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri. Built by Emperor Akbar in 1569 and deserted 14 years later its glorious courtyards and palaces conjure up dreams of the mysterious past. There’s the imperial Jami Masjid, the tomb of Shaik Salim Chisti who predicted the birth of Akbar’s son Jehangir, the Panch Mahal, a strange building which resembles a Buddhist Temple, a cloistered courtyard which was the Hall of Public Audience and the Pachchisi paved with black and white where the Emperor played chess using slave girls as figurines. We return to the hotel in Agra for the night.
You will then return to your hotel where you will have free time. If time permits you should visit Itimad-ud-Daulah, known as the ‘Baby Taj’; it was built before the Taj Mahal by Nur Jahan, queen of Jehangir, for her parents. The first Mughal building to be faced with white marble and where ‘pietra dura’, (precious stones inlaid into marble) was first used. Or alternatively head down to the Yamuna River and take a small boat across the river to get a glimpse of the Taj Mahal from a different angle and a different perspective - truly magical.
* Please note the Taj Mahal is closed on Friday's.