I was very excited for April 12 since Nidhi and Rashmi planned for the weekend trip to trio-Mathura, Vrindavan and Taj Mahal Agra, so much so, that I didn’t have a deep slumber on the night of April 11. We were planning to go by train, but luckily Anil, Rashmi’s husband became our savior, as he agreed to drive us in his personal car. Oh God, finally the most awaited Saturday was there to welcome us. In the morning at around 6.30, they reached near Mayur Vihar-1 metro station to pick me up, as we need to pass through Greater Noida.
For the first time, I could feel the charm of riding on the road of noise-free Delhi or I could witness the pleasant sights of the greenery of Noida. Nidhi and Rashmi were dying to have tea and so was I. Thanks to Anil, he managed somehow. Now, the real journey started. I could see that Agra was 197 km from Noida and as usual felt bored, but Nidhi was, as usual, zealous and she was deliberately describing her earlier experiences of going on a long drive via Yamuna Expressway. Finally, I could find that we were already on Yamuna Expressway and it was getting realistic just as Nidhi’s previous experiences. Our first aim was to reach Vrindavan, the holy land by the first half of the morning.
There was no rush on the as it was only 7.30, and so we didn’t have the terrifying summer heat. The road was smooth and perfect to enjoy a long drive even if you don’t have any fixed mindset to go somewhere. Here I must say that the travelers who are passing through this route for the first time, must carry a few bottles of water and some snacks with them as you won’t find a single vendor on the Yamuna Expressway although there are few stopovers and washrooms. Suddenly, I thought of clicking some pics on the mid-way and in the midst of nowhere the photo session started. Wow, the feeling was amazing and thus the drive went on clicks after clicks.
It was 10.30 when our car took a turn and I could see we are approaching Vrindavan. The view of the roadside was marvelous with greenery and abundant meadows. The road gets divided at a point where one leads to Nidhivan, another will lead you to the famous Prem Mandir of Baankebihari (Sri Krishna), where the central deity is believed to be self-incarnated. The entrance to the city itself will let you feel how pious the land is! The shops at the entrance are filled with ‘nitya puja samagri’ (daily worshipping items) like incenses sticks, fresh rose garlands, mouth-watering desserts and unique idols of Lord Krishna.
A beautiful puja samagri shop
The buzzing city was completely different from other noisy locations; with the roads bustling with the sounds of ‘Radhe Radhe’ and the feel of spirituality was bathing my unfaithful soul. I must tell you the truth that I am not that religious as Rashmi and Anil but the moment I entered the temple’s premises I could feel the spiritually imbibed on the soil of this holy land. There was a huge crowd inside the sanctum sanctorum, but somehow we managed to have a glimpse of Baankebihari ji. Unfortunately, I couldn’t click any pics of the deity as photography is not allowed inside the temple.
Baanke Vihari Mandir
There are a number of locals who may try to be your guide to grab some coins from you. The first time travelers should keep it in mind that in case of any confusion regarding routes, it is better to ask the local vendors and shopkeepers.
Our Travel Freak Group
Nidhivan is approx 1 km from the Baankebihari temple. This is the mysterious spot where travelers are not allowed to enter after 8pm, as the belief says that the duo Radha and Krishna appear here to perform their ‘Raas Lila’ and anyone who spend the night in this place, either become deaf or dumb. The entire Vrindavan city is full of temples and spirituality and myth are easy to be accepted. If one has enough time, ISKCON temple is a must-see spot in Vrindavan.
We were getting late and Madam Rashmi (as we make fun of her) was scolding me for getting late. Our next destination was Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna and within 30 minutes we were in another holy land glorified by the presence of Lord Krishna. But, reaching there we could see parking is a challenge here and you need to manage it on your own. The magnificent temple pond is a perfect place to spend your leisure in the evening as the pond is big enough and edged with strong bathing Ghaats.
Temple Pond of Mathura
The security at the temple gate is strict enough and one is not allowed to carry any leather items, or artifacts like mobile and camera. The chanting of the Bhagavat Geeta in the temple premise was adding to the mysticism of that land. I could feel the charm of visiting the birthplace of Lord Krishna. We entered the jail where Lord Krishna was born. There is a temple dedicated to Yogamaya where according to myth Demon Kangsasur wanted to kill the disguised baby Goddess Durga. I was getting goosebumps for the thrilling feel as the interior was really speaking about that mythical incident very loudly.
Sri Krishna Janambhoomi Entrance Gate (Close view)
We entered the main temple where the idols of Lord Radha and Krishna were placed. There are separate abodes for different deities like Raam-Sita, Jagadamba and Hanuman inside the sanctum sanctorum. I was dying to capture a glimpse of those wonderful creations, but we were not allowed to take any photography. We were about to leave when Arati started and Rashmi wanted to witness it. I must not tell a lie but thanks to her as I could witness something which was beyond the earthly pleasure. I don’t know whether I was getting over-sensational or not, but Rashmi and Anil were also mesmerized. Here I must tell you that the reason behind such a hard and fast checking in this temple is that a giant mosque shares the temple wall. There is an artificial cave outside the temple which looks like heaven for its artistic setting. I bought a cute ‘Laddo Gopal’ for my Bhabi and some ‘Pera’ as Mathura is known across the country for this delicious dessert.
Entrance to the temple
Krishna Janambhoomi, main temple
It was 12.30 in the afternoon and the sun was heating like anything. Now, our next destination was Agra. There were two routes leading to Agra, one is obviously the Yamuna Expressway, for which we needed to go 13 km back. Anil asked a stranger and he showed us the NH2 route which is a shortcut and less busy route to Agra. Now Rashmi was feeling hungry and Nidhi was continuously pulling her leg. Anil stopped the car in front of a roadside Dhaba where parking system was not good. The travelers must keep it in mind that there are a number of Dhabas on the Mathura-Agra route but all are not of quality food suppliers. We were feeling hungry and ended up having our lunch at ‘Sher-e-Punjab Family Dhaba’. Agra was around 62 km from there. Luckily the road was smooth and the ride was getting interesting for the funny chatting of Nidhi and Rashmi. Before entering the city of Agra, I clicked some images of Akbar’s Tomb.
There was jam for a very short period but fortunately it was not very long. The traffic system of Agra is not at all praiseworthy and the drivers are mostly careless about it. We stopped for a while in front of Agra Fort and captured the distant views of the Taj Mahal. This is the fort from where Mughal Emperor Shahjahan used to see the pride of Mughal Sultanate, the Taj Mahal. I had a dream of witnessing the same and finally I could have a glimpse of it. The architectural beauty of this fort is astounding and I was stunned to see the finest sculpture and minute detailing on each single minar, tombs, and pillars. The fort area is extensive and we were getting late, so I could not quench my thirst.
The mesmeric view of Taj Mahal from Agra Fort
After 5 minutes of drive, we reached the parking place of Meena Baazar. There were rides of camel, rickshaws and CNG vans to Taj Mahal as other vehicles are not allowed to enter here.
Agra’s famous Meena Baazar
The funniest part of our trip was when Nidhi took a pic with her soulmate camel. You know why we call her a camel, just because she can spend an entire day without drinking a sip of water.
Nidhi with her soulmate
Jokes apart, one need not hire any ride from the parking zone as the Taj Mahal is very close to the spot and the greenery by the roadside is charming. We reached the Taj Mahal premise and bought entry tickets. There are a number of travel guides in front of the entrance gate but I will advise you to go for a licensed tour guide. On the left side of the entrance, there is a Nahabat Khana which is made of red sand stone. Be aware of the brokers who will influence you to make your entry through the second gate. After security checking, you are free. Take as many shots as you want.
Entrance to the main dome of Taj Mahal
There are certified photographers who can take your best pics with the epitome of love, the Taj Mahal. There is a mosque on the left side of the temple. The entrance gate was scribed with some spiritual inscriptions and amazing Mughal Architectural Style. Unfortunately, the fountains at the entrance were closed for renovation and we missed the view of another inseparable element of this ‘symbol of devotion’.
Writer in front of the pride of India
While climbing to the central square platform one needs to take off the shoes and I was worried how terrible the marble floor will be! Fortunately, it was 3.30 or 4 and the sun was comparatively reluctant. The view of River Yamuna was pleasing, but my intention was to explore the architectural beauty of this marble dome.
Though the tourists were buzzing without giving attention to the notice board, yet somehow I was feeling the height of love and the level of devotion the Mughal Emperor had for his beloved. There is a closed area inside the central tomb where the dim-light of the Chandelier lamp adds to its mysticism. The detailing on the walls, khilans, and windows are minute and certainly unique. I could feel the worth of tagging the Taj Mahal as a ‘wonder’. I was willing to spend some more time on its marble floor to witness its beguiling beauty, but we were getting late for Delhi. We took pushpak (battery charged rickshaw) as Nidhi was not feeling well. It took 30 bucks. So do not forget to bargain. Now we were way back to our nest. Rashmi as usual didn’t forget her responsibility and bought Agra’s famous Panchi Petha. Here one should keep it in mind that in the entire Agra city, you will see more than 20 shops named as Panchi Petha and each of them has a prefix or suffix to the name Panchi Petha. But, the original panchi petha does not have any prefix or suffix with it.
While coming back, we chose the easiest route to Delhi from Agra and i.e., Yamuna Expressway. The ride was awesome and as the night was getting darker, we could feel the real enjoyment of riding on the ever-cherishing route of Yamuna Expressway. The most interesting part of this expressway is there is no street light on the entire route to Greater Noida, from where the route starts. There are only radium indicators on the road and one is not allowed to slow down their speed below 100. Just be aware about the trespassers who do not bother about the traffic rule saying ‘always overtake at the right’. We reached Noida at around 9.30pm. Nidhi and Rashmi were damn exhausted and Anil was tired of this long drive. But, we enjoyed a lot.
Finally, my suggestion to the travelers is you can go for this trio visit at any simple weekend. Trains are available from Nizamuddin and Old Delhi Railway Station. There are both state-run and private bus services from Delhi to Agra which are comfortable and safe as well. For a pleasant journey AC buses are the preferred choice. But covering the trio in one single day will not be that easy. So, it’s better to reserve one day for Mathura-Vrindavan Darshan and travel to Agra in the evening. Next day early morning head for Agra and visit both Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal and come back to Delhi by the evening train. Witnessing the Taj Mahal on a full moon night is an incredible experience. Just you need to reserve both way ticket in advance. Experience a different weekend off this time on a memorable trip from Delhi to Agra.