Gurgaon – Agra, Mathhura & Brindavan : 1 day trip (27th June 2009)
This was the first holiday that we undertook after our marriage, and so has a special place in our memories.
We left Gurgaon by car at around 6.30am. The driver we got was well versed with the route, so we didnt really pay too much attention there :). We made 3 stops in Agra: Sikandra fort, Taj Mahal & Agra fort.
Our 1st stop in Agra was Sikandra Fort. This is the last resting place of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. This tomb has three storey towers on the four corners. These minarets are built in red sandstone and the interiors of the tomb are built in marble giving it a very splendid appearance. The place is rather serene and beautiful. The intricate inlaid work on the entrance is very eye-catching.
The 2nd stop was the Taj Mahal. It was quite a experience to be there. Most people wax eloquent about it being a ‘moving’ experience because it was a monument made with ‘love’. Well, it wasn’t a place that touched emotions. Probably because every 2 minutes you are accosted by people offer to take photos of you with the Taj (at a fee of course!).
True, the sight of the Taj is awesome. To be able to see it so closely was an experience of a lifetime. The sheer beauty of the structure and the work on the marble walls is spell binding.
The weather however, had not been the most ideal for that visit. It was burning hot, and literally for us, since we had to walk barefoot from the foot of the Taj to the entrance of the building… and back!!!
The 3rd stop was the Agra Fort. Most of the place was shut down for either the military or for the Archeological Survey’s renovations. Only the Diwan-e-aam and the ruined prison were open to view.
The main problem with this place is there are no markers or pointers to specific locations on the site. If you are not very keen to looking through everything, then you will very likely miss the prison section where Shah Jahan was imprisoned. There are no cells remaining any more, but a small board, hidden from view, marks the spot.
The story goes that Aurangzeb had imprisoned Shah Jahan in this section of the Agra Fort, and Shah Jahan, old and feeble, used to look out of the window toward the Taj Mahal which is visible in the distance.
One speciality of Agra that is a must try is the petha. Made from white pumpkin, its amazingly delicious. You get it in many flavours as opposed to the simple white one you get everywhere.
We headed toward Mathura after this last stop at Agra.
Mathura is known for being the birth-place of Lord Krishna. The temple here is under high security since it shares a wall with a large mosque. So, everywhere you have security guards, and nothing is permitted into the temple premises.
There is a narrow path within the temple complex that leads to the prison cell where the Lord was born. It’s a very different experience altogether, standing in that small cell.
We followed this up with another side trip to Brindavan. Here we were not sure where we were going. The driver just stopped the car and told us to go straight to ‘the temple’. This turned out to be the temple of Shri Banke Bihari Maharaj, or the Boy Lord Krishna as he is called here.
We walked through a bustling marketplace winding through small gallis to get to the temple. The streets here sell either offerings to the Lord or food items. The rich smell of sweetened milk permeates the air. Lassi is sold in small clay jars, and is normally topped with a thick layer of cream. One jar of Lassi can keep hunger away for at least 2-3 hours! One must certainly forget the words “diet”, “calories” and “weight’ ;).
The temple was bursting with people. Apparently we had reached during some festival, so there was hardly any standing space.
During the aarti, the priests in the temple keep shutting the curtains every 10 mins or so. There is a legend which goes to tell how a princess, on a pilgrimage to the temple, was so enamoured with Banke Bihariji that she wanted to stay with him for the rest of her life. But she was forced by her family to return to her kingdom. Bihariji was touched by the princess’ devotion, and followed her to her kingdom. On being found missing from the temple a frantic search was conducted, and Bihariji was found in the princess’ house. He was then coerced back to the temple by his devotees who wanted to visit him.
So till this day, a curtain is dropped over Bihariji, so that no eyes can gaze on him too long and melt in devotion.
There is also an ISKON temple here, which is said to be very beautiful. But we had to get back, so we opted not to visit the temple.
We reached our residence by 10pm, contented.