The next portion of our India 2019 trip was a four hour road trip and overnight stay in Agra. We planned to pack light for Agra (backpacks only), and would leave our suitcases with the Pride Plaza hotel bellman, as we would be back Thursday evening. Why bring all of our stuff for an overnight, then back again?
After Wednesday morning breakfast, we checked out of the hotel, and jumped onto our travel van for the four hour ride. Not much to see except farmland, so everyone chilled out. We arrived at the Crystal Sarovar Premiere hotel in Agra in about four hours as expected (no traffic!) around 1 PM. After we checked in, we dropped our stuff off in the rooms, then ran downstairs for a buffet lunch in the hotel.
We met our Agra tour guide, Imran, in the hotel lobby at about 2 PM. Due to the short window before sunset, our itinerary for the afternoon was the Agra Fort and Itmad-ud Daula. We would have the evening to ourselves to relax, then get up at sunrise Thursday morning to visit the Taj Mahal site. We would not be able to enter the Red Fort in New Delhi this week, as it was closed to visitors on account of Aug 15 India Independence Day celebrations. That’s right — we’d be in India for India Independence Day.
Agra Fort was something else, folks. It’s huge. This monster 94 acre site was the main residence of the Mughal emperors from 1565-1638, when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi.
Our final site was the Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah. Nicknamed “Baby Taj”, the structure was built in the 1620s, and contains the final remains of the family of one of the Mughal emperors. Our tour guide mentioned that it demonstrates a transition in architectural style during the Mughal Empire — from red sandstone (as seen at the Agra Fort) to white marble (as seen at the later Taj Mahal).
The site is on the Yamuna River, and it’s not a large facility by any means. It’s a good size, and I was intrigued by the view of the location at sunset. If you look at the pictures below, I tried to capture the spirit of this ancient site, of people and an empire long gone, “abandoned”.
It was a long day of driving and walking in the heat, and everyone was happy to get back to freshen up and cool off. Lily and I hit up the rooftop pool for 30 minutes. The six of us ended up not wanting to walk around Agra looking for dinner, and we opted to eat upstairs on the roof at the Sky Grill restaurant.