Backpacking India pt2: Agra.

Backpacking India pt2: Agra.

During the first half of 2014, I decided to pack my bags, say goodbye to what I knew as ‘life’ and spend 3 months traveling around Northern India. These blog posts are to share my journey with you.


Visiting India without seeing the Taj Mahal is like visiting Amsterdam without seeing the inside of a coffee shop. Ya just gotta do it.

Excitement soon turned into mild confusion as I walked off the train at Agra Cantt station, naively expecting to see the Taj. It was night, and I had luckily booked a room in a guest house in advance (unusual for me). I jumped in a riskshaw with a fellow English backpacker, and an Indian doctor who I had made friends with on the train, and off we went.

About 1km after the driver dropped me off and said “It’s just down there” (he pointed down a long and dark road, with various Military people along the way) I arrived at my guesthouse, and was greeted to a room which was infested by mosquitoes and stunk of wet paint. My excitement about waking up before sunrise to withness, and photograph the Taj, however, drowned out the sharp buzzing sounds flying past my ears, and the headache that had developed since arriving in the room.

I awoke at 5.20am, brushed my teeth and grabbed my camera, and after a short detour to get my ticket (which was from the ticket office, 1km away from the entrance) I managed to get inside just as the sun was coming up over the horizon, and as expected, the light was golden and beautiful! I couldn’t stop a big, stupid smile spreading across my face as my eyes rested on the incredible view of the Taj for the first time. It’s labelled “the jewel of Muslim art in India” and I couldn’t think of better words to describe it.

The money shot – The Taj Mahal at sunrise

The marble work inside the structure blew me away!

The marble work inside the structure blew me away!

The amount of fine detail everywhere you look, is incredible

The amount of fine detail everywhere you look, is incredible

The shoe protectors (a.k.a plastic bags) to protect the floor inside the Taj Mahal.

The shoe protectors (a.k.a plastic bags) to protect the floor inside the Taj Mahal.

The white domed structure that most associate with the Taj Majal is surrounded by beautiful gardens and other almost – as – impressive buildings.

I spent a few hours taking in the views from as many angles as possible.

The Yamuna river which runs behind the Taj.

The Yamuna river which runs behind the Taj.

Monkeys galore

Monkeys galore

A security guard at the Taj Mahal happy to have his photo taken

A security guard at the Taj Mahal happy to have his photo taken

Some workers at the Taj

Some workers at the Taj

After a few hours walking around and taking photos of the Taj Mahal, I decided it was time to hit up some breakfast, so attempted to walk towards Taj Ganj (the backpacker area). One thing I’ve always sucked at is listening to directions. I have this habit of just nodding and saying “yeah” when someone tries to explain directions to me, before walking off in the wrong direction. This is what happened, and I got massively lost. However, my journey in the wrong direction allowed me a brief glimpse into the day-to-day (non-Taj Mahal) lives of  some residents of Agra.

Danny Fernandez Agra-8

A young boy prepares and sells flower garlands.

A young boy prepares and sells flower garlands.

A barber relaxes in the early morning before his day begins.

A barber relaxes in the early morning before his day begins.

After breakfast, it began getting really hot (at least this is what I though at the time, until I reevaluated what it is to be hot in Varanasi), so I went back to the guest house to rest for a while.

The rest of the day was spent walking the streets, visiting Agra fort and eventually drinking beers on a roof top with a view over the city.

Pattered marble work on the ceilings of the Taj

Pattered marble work on the ceilings of the Taj

This guy was super cool. We shared a beer and he told me about his family.

This guy was super cool. We shared a beer and he told me about his family.

After the sun went down, a cool set over the town and being on a roof top allowed me to observe the buzzing energy of the place.

A girl watching the world pass by.

A girl watching the world pass by.

Danny Fernandez Agra-13

On my way back to Agra train station, I passed a wedding ceremony.

On my way back to Agra train station, I passed a wedding ceremony.

24 hours after I arrived, it was time to head back to Delhi, for an overnight stop before taking a 829km train to Varanasi, where the next 6 weeks of my life would unfold.


 All Agra photography taken with a Fuji X100s and processed in Adobe Lightroom.