Sunday, 6 July 2014

Red Fort, Agra, India

A City Behind Walls

Red Fort, also known as Agra Fort, is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Agra, India. Red Fort has been used for military purposes in past and present as well. Indian military is still actively using Red Fort as base in Agra so half of the fort is not open for public viewing. Originally, the Red Fort had more than 500 buildings but Mughals and then Britishers destroyed almost all of them. Only 30 buildings survived the hammer.

Red Fort
Red Fort, the original fort known as Badalgarh, was a brick fort. Which was used by Rajput Kings as resident palace around 1048A.D.

Then later on Red Fort became the home of Sikandar Lodi who shifted his capital from Delhi to AgraAlmost all of great Mughal Emperors have lived here starting from Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and even Aurangzeb.

During this period the Red Fort was used to as head quarter by Mughals to rule the India. Other interesting fact is when the Mughals won the war and took control over the Red Fort, they found the diamond known as "Kohinoor" in it's massive treasure. The architecture of Agra Fort is only one of the few examples of mixed Hindu and Muslim architecture. You can see various animals images on the wall along with a temple inside the Red Fort itself. 

Summarized Historical Information About Agra Fort

  • Where is the Red Fort located? Very close to the Taj Mahal in Agra.
  • Who built Agra Fort? The current red sandstone fort was built by Akbar. However the original fort, known as Badalgarh, was build by Rajputs.
  • When was the Agra Fort built? The current red sandstone fort was built in 1573. However the original brick fort was standing and used by Rajputs in 1080 A.D.
  • Why was the Red Fort built? For residential and military purposes.
Images of Agra Fort
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Getting to Agra Fort

Red Fort is situated very close to the Taj Mahal. One could just take a rickshaw to get there. It should not cost you more than 10Rs per person. If you are travelling by your own car I will suggest you leave your vehicle in the Taj Mahal parking as the parking which is way better than Red Fort parking. Anyways if you take your car to Red Fort eventually you will be paying parking fees again. 

Opening Time: All days from sun rise to sun set. 
Tickets: 20Rs for Indian and 520Rs for foreigner.  

Happy travelling...

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, India

The City Of Legendary Emperor Akbar 

Fatehpur Sikri is a historical city, a UNESCO World Heritage City site, situated in the district of Agra, India. The city is said to be built by mughal emperor Akbar and it served as the capital of mughal empire for 15 years starting from 1571 to 1585 before turning into a ghost town.

Mighty Buland Darwaza
History of Fatehpur Sikri is quite interesting. Ambar initially had a son who didn't survive long. Now he needed a heir for his empire so he went to visit sufi saint Salim Chishti. Later on Akbar had a son as predicted by the saint. In order to honor the saint Ambar named his son Salim and decided to build a city at the same place where saint Salim Chishti used to live.

A new master piece known as Fatehabad was constructed which was later know as Fatehpur Sikri. But soon the town run short on water as the lake was not big enough to support such number of people. People started abandoning the city and last nail in the coffin was the continuous attacks from the North West frontier. 

A visit to Fatehpur Sikri will take you to the best of the Mughal architecture. Following are most prominent places will be get to visit:
  • The main entrance, known as Buland Darwaza, it's mighty! It's the biggest door way in the world. 
  • The Mosque, known as Jama Masjid.
  • The Tomb of Salim Chishti where people till date make their wishes regardless of their actual religion. The ritual is to tie a thread to the window. Repeat your wish in side your heart three times. And if your wishes come true, then you need to come back and open a thread from the window.
  • Next to the Salim Chishti tomb is graveyard where all the family member's of Salim Chishti are said to be laid in peace. 
  • Panch Mahal, the pleasure and entertainment place for Ambar.
  • Diwan-i-khas, a place for guests.
  • Anup Talao, it was used as a location of the singing competition. 
  • Queen Palace, a Hindu Queen Palace along with security office.

Pictures of Fatehpur Sikri
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Getting to Fatehpur Sikri

The city is situated around 36KM from the Agra. You can take a taxi from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri palace which will cost you 600Rs for round trip. If you wish to take bus, catch it from Idgah Bus Stand and the mini bus will drop the door of Fatehpur Sikri monuments. If you are driving yourself like us, most of the road is newly built toll road and quite nice to drive on. However, you will have to drive 10 KM on a single lane road with traffic coming from both side. I guess they were in process to re-built this road also.

Happy travelling...

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Elegant Taj!

Taj Mahal is 16th century old mausoleum, a UNESO World Heritage Sitesituated in Agra, India. It's one the wonders of the world. 

The moment you enter Taj Mahal complex everything stops. Your senses are concurred by the mesmerizing beauty of this white marble mausoleum. Your mind goes completely blank, eyes pops out and jaw drops! Nothing can prepare you for this moment, although I have seen it's pictures many times since my childhood without even realizing something can be so beautiful

I was standing there speechless, completely lost in the moment. I bet you would feel the same way if you would be there instead of me. I think, there should be a statutory warning message at the entrance ticket of Taj Mahal "Beware! Visiting Taj Mahal can make you spellbound" :) 

Taj Mahal
We literally sit in front of it for 3 hours and still left the place half-heatedly. It is that much satisfying to see Taj Mahal that entire Agra day trip could be just go to Agra city, visit the Taj Mahal, come back to Delhi without going any where else and still you will feel like damn what a trip! 

Any travel log or pictures of this place can't justify the beauty of this place. If you think the picture looks beautiful, then you really want to stand in front of it! Only that will make you realize how beautiful this building it. It would be the most beautiful building you will ever see.

Bit of history of the Taj Mahal
  • Where is the Taj Mahal ? It is located in the city called Agra, Uttar Pradesh of India.
  • What is the Taj Mahal ? A mausoleum. 
  • What is inside the Taj Mahal ? Tomb of Mumtaz Mahal but visitor are not allowed to the original site of tomb which, I think, is in the basement. But you get to see the replica upon entering the Taj Mahal.
  • Who built the Taj Mahal ? It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal who died during the birth of their 14th child.
  • Why is the Taj Mahal famous ? It is famous for being symbol of "love".
  • When was the Taj Mahal built ? The entire construction process took around 20 years. It started around 1632 and finished in 1653.
  • Who was the architect of Taj Mahal ? The chief designer name was Mohammad Khan. 
  • What is the height of Taj Mahal ? The height of the Taj Mahal is around 561 feet.

Pictures of Taj Mahal
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Getting to Taj Mahal

Keeping in view a tight security and pollution effects, only electrical vehicles are allowed near by Taj Mahal. Electric buses, electric cars and the best ecological mode of transportation "rickshaw" are rapidly available. But before boarding any of these, beside buses, make sure you bargain and bargain hard! Most of the time the asked price will come down by even 50%!  

The entrance fees is around 250Rs for foreign tourist, 20Rs for local and children are allowed for free upto the age of 15.

Taj Mahal is open for viewing from 6 AM to 7 PM everyday except Friday. It is also open for moon light viewing from 8.30 PM to 12:30 AM starting from two days before and after the full moon.

Undoubtedly Taj Mahal is one of the best places I have visited ever. If you have not been there, make sure you make it at least once in your life time!

Happy travelling...

Sungai Gabai Waterfall, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Time For Jacuzzi Bath!

Sungai Gabai Waterfalls are situated in Hulu Langat at the outskirt of Kuala LumpurIf you are looking for an escape from your busy city life well here is your pass! 

Sungai Gabai Waterfalls
It may be your brilliant pick for a sunny day for at least two reasons. The water here is really very cool. Since there is no fee, well if you don't consider 1 RM maintenance charge as fees, then it's virtually a free place to visit. 

So it's a natural water park without any fee, isn't that great! If you don't mind taking some risk then there are few cascades on which you can even slide. 

What is the risk? Well it may peel off your butt just in case your precise execution of sliding takes south, well that's the trade you got to make some times LOL. 

Freebies ain't done yet! It's a picnic spot as well. You will see many families enjoying their day in full swing with party cap on! In short Sungai Gabai Waterfalls are quite a popular place among the locals but foreigner are kept in dark :) 

Pictures of Sungai Gabai Waterfalls
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How To Go To Sungai Gabai Waterfalls

Sungai Gabai Waterfalls are remotely located. There is not much of information about how to reach there by using public transportation. But luckily my friend nailed it. He picked the exact bus for us. The bus number was SJ-11 from Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur to Hulu Langat. 

My guess, The bus originates from Maydin Shopping Center opposite to MayBank Tower in Kuala Lumpur.  Hulu Langat was it's the first stop from the other side. Kindly cross verify before boarding the bus. For car, only one advice don't miss small direction sign as the board which takes you off the highway to the waterfall was seriously very small.

Few things to take note of:
  • All though it's reasonably maintained park but on a crowded day you may find it bit dirty.
  • Toilets and changing rooms could have been taken better care of.
  • For food, the most wise thing would be to carry it from the home itself. 
  • Kindly take note that the fall in between two rocks is very deep, it's not suitable for children.
  • Hike a bit, Sungai Gabai Waterfalls got multiple cascades. The higher you climb lesser people with more beautiful natural pond you will find for your Jacuzzi bath.
At the end I would say it's reasonable place to go if your aim is to have a family outing or some sort of family picnic in the arms of nature.

Happy travelling...