Epic Road Trip – Kolkata to Agra

Looking at the map of India, I find Kolkata and Agra pretty close to each other. My small hands can draw a line between them in a jiffy. In my small world it all sounded really simple and I thought it would be like any other road trip I have been to before until we finally hit the road ..

 

Roads excite me and I have been doing them since I was 14 months old. Journeys were shorter back then, now my parents are like – “Oh darling ! let’s be adventurous.”-  I guess they have sensed how comfortable I am with road trips.

 

Apart from finishing a dozen of books on the way (am a book nut! ) I love gazing at the different landscapes, farming flat lands changing into steeps hills and mountains; laughing at how the weather uncle can be so funny on the road, when the sunny weather changes into a rainy one in a moment and also admiring the changes in the dressing style of local women and children with the change in the places. In a road trip I feel it’s the journey that makes the destination worth while. I will always remember Taj Mahal for the miles I had to cross to finally see it. I have a story to say and that’s what makes it memorable !

 

We started from Kolkata in the wee hours of morning to avoid any traffic blockages, but we still ran down into one. After a dozen of stopovers for breakfast, lunch, regional produce, nature’s call and picturesque locations we made it to Varanasi only at 11 in the night.

 

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One of the many stop-overs on the road. I love road trips !

 

Distance from Kolkata to Varanasi is 686 km and according to google it should take you 13 hours but it took us 18. We crossed two beautiful states – Jharkhand and Bihar to reach Uttar Pradesh. Dad said the ongoing construction work on the national highway was the reason behind our delay. Trust me it sounds more difficult than it actually was.Varanasi is one of the holiest cities in India and it lies on the bank of river ganges. It is home to more than 20,000 temples. We visited the most famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple at 3am in the morning for the ‘Mangala’ aarti. You can book the tickets online https://shrikashivishwanath.org/TicketBooking.aspx Before sunrise we reached Assi ghat for the morning aarti. It was a treat to eyes.

 

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Morning aarti at Assi Ghat

 

After witnessing two of the most famous spots in Varanasi we headed back to our hotel for a sumptuous breakfast. By 9 am we were back on the road heading towards Allahabad – our next destination. Allahabad, earlier called Prayag was renamed by Mughals as Allah-baad. One of the most interesting fact about Allahabad is the confluence of three rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati. Luckily we made it to Allahabad in a couple of hours. We took a boat ride to see the confluence. It was a lovely sight and one of the most visited in India.

 

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Why should birds have all the fun !

 

Later in the evening, we covered a two hour distance to reach the bustling city of Kanpur. If you skip Allahabad you can make it to Agra by the evening but we were not in a hurry and wanted to see all the famous spots on the way. Kanpur is a small, over crowded city and it had an old small town charm. Instead of Kanpur one can also stop in Lucknow, but it does not fall on the route to Agra, so we stayed overnight at Kanpur.

 

Next day after a relaxed breakfast we started for Agra. It was a smooth ride and we reached Agra by afternoon. With no prior hotel bookings done, we were lucky enough to get a room in the ITC Mughal. We used goibibo to get a good last moment deal. ITC Mughal will only enhance your experience of Agra with its architecture and its white marbles. Even the names of the various sections of the hotel is kept after the Mughal ruler Akbar and his wives. The massive lobby is called the Akbar Mahal and the bridges to the two wings are called Mariam and Jodhabai bridge. See it for yourself !

 

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Princess moment in Akbar Mahal !

 

Agra has three UNESCO world heritage sites. There is a lot to see and sink in when you put your foot in Agra. We started with the grand Taj Mahal. This majestic monument was built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. She was his third wife but the one he loved the most. She died while giving birth to their fourteenth child. It was a heartbreaking incident for Shah Jahan and hence he commissioned Taj Mahal as a memorial. Taj Mahal is the most symmetrical  a monument ever built by Mughals and I am sure you have never seen something more beautiful than this ever. This timeless monument and the story behind its creation are both mesmerising. Please do hire a guide (it’s a must) to understand everything in details.

        

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Taj Mahal, am speechless ! A part of the tree beautifully hiding the restoration of the minaret. So much love in this monument that even the trees want to hide it’s flaws.

 

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Inscriptions on Taj Mahal look same size from top to bottom

 

 

 

 

Next up was Agra fort. Agra fort is a grand red sandstone fort which was used by the Mughal dynasty as its residence. There were beautifully designed rooms, perfectly manicured gardens and courtyards after courtyards. Every room, gallery, pavilion spoke its own story. Since Agra fort is situated really close to Taj Mahal, when Aurangzeb (Shah Jahan ‘s son) imprisoned Shah Jahan, the latter looked at his beloved’s tomb from a window of his room. The enchanting story of Agra fort is nothing like you have heard before. We spent an entire afternoon to learn about the Mughal era which lasted for more than three centuries.

 

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The Agra Fort

 

Fatehpur Sikri also known as City of Victory is a small town situated two hours away from Agra. It was founded by the Mughal emperor Akbar who lived in it with his three wives – Jodha Bai, Ruqaiya Begum and Mariam. Made also out of red sandstone it is an architectural beauty. The main entrance to the fort is from Buland Darwaza, the picture of which can be seen below. This fort also houses the tomb of the famous Sufi saint Salim Chisti who lived in Sikri and blessed Akbar with a son. Later when the saint died , Akbar built his tomb in the same fort. This fort was used by the Mughals for a full decade after which it was abandoned by them due to scarcity of water. The Mughals then shifted to Agra fort.

 

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Fatehpur Sikri Fort

 

Please also check my guest post on Taj Mahal at Bailey Buss’s travel site –

https://destinationlesstravel.com/2017/09/17/kolkata-to-agra-taj-mahal/

 

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28 thoughts on “Epic Road Trip – Kolkata to Agra

  1. I absolutely love this article! I took a history course in uni that focused on the rise and fall of the Mughal empire, and it was fascinating. Your article really took me back! Taj Mahal is an obvious must for any traveler in India to see, but what I like most about this is that you include much more than that (like the forts), along with the added snippets of history. I’m excited to visit India in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The more I read about India, I feel there are so much more worlds to discover in this 1 country! Agra sounds like an amazing to explore and the Taj Mahal seems like one of those places that can only be witnessed in real life not just a photo.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sweet, I love reading about India, particularly since I’ve never been there. Makes me thing that there is so much to explore and discover. I really love your last picture, too – so artsy 🙂 I would love to see the Taj Mahal one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What an adventurous experience! The Agra Fort is definitely something I want to see. Road trips are amazing – so much to learn and so much to see! I’m sure you had an exciting time!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A trip to Agra is always one to remember. It’s a good idea to do a roadtrip from Kolkatta to Agra and I think you did good by stopping at Varanasi, it is one fascinating city. Kanpur I am not a huge fan of, and neither Allahabad. But Agra is amazing of course. Love your Taj pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This really does sound epic! Very brave to drive in India especially through cities! I don’t think we could if we tried! We missed Varanasi and you make it sound unbelievable! We’ll have to go back 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved Agra and the Taj Mahal when I visited a few years ago – you’ve opened my eyes to so many other places I should have explored along the way!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Woow! I have never heard someone say that they drove from Kolkata to Agra. I m quite impressed with what you have tried- including Varanasi on your way. Taj Mahal looks majestic as always. I would have loved to know more about your road trip to Agra though. Probably you should consider writing another detailed post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Really nice article! Recently tried a road trip myself and had a wonderful time. Your destinations seem a lot more interesting though, so much history to absorb!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have been dreaming of visiting India! I really wanna see the Taj Mahal, and now I just learned about the fort in Agra! Thank you for sharing all this information! Definitely wanna visit Allahabad now too, to see the 3 rivers joining together!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. We love roadtrips – it’s that sense of adventure and being able to stop off wherever you want and take those beautiful shots! Seeing the Taj Mahal is on my list!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A very interesting post – you are confirming just now that Agra is quite a stunning place. One of my buddies has visited this city last year (well, mostly because of the Taj Mahal), but was just blown away by the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah. I’ll have to see this for myself once 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow, the distance you covered it was huge! I know how the roads in India can be and that you can’t really go very fast. I traveled in India quite a bit on both rail and road and I remember how long it took from Agra to reach Varanasi. A road trip however has it’s perks because you can stop whenever you want and also visit places which would be out of the way if you would go by bus or by train.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Love the perspective of the shot you took at Fatehpur Sikri Fort and the one of Agra Fort is also quite stunning. I really enjoyed reading this as most (popular) guides about India seem to only ever talk about the Taj Mahal. I’m also a fan of road trips so I’d for sure love to do this one someday.

    Liked by 1 person

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