It’s impossible to write about my visits to the cities of Jhansi and Gwalior without first explaining the historical reasons why I would be interested in them. The first part of what follows is therefore a brief-ish and opinionated summary of what Wikipedia, that bastion of neutrality, calls the “Indian Rebellion of 1857“, but is traditionally known in British historiography as the Indian Mutiny. Feel free to skip it if you just want to read about me wandering around some forts.
Now you’ve read my Delhi Tomb Review, you probably want to know what I think of the tombs in Agra, too. Read below to find out.
Where: The north end of central Agra, on the far side of the Yamuna river.
Who: Mirza Ghiyas Beg (?-1622), a Mughal politician and, clearly, a scheming genius, who rose to become chief minister and managed to get his daughter and granddaughter married to successive emperors.
Tomb features: It’s referred to as the “Baby Taj” and considered the penultimate step in the architectural evolution which realised perfection in the Taj Mahal. It suffers from that as people describe it as “imperfect” in comparison, which I think is unfair. It’s a different tomb with different design intentions. The Taj is very austere, whereas Itimad-ud-Daulah is intricately decorated, with the finest inlaid and latticed marble of all the tombs. It’s a nice garden to walk around in, especially in the evening when it’s bathed in golden sunlight from across the river.
Summary: A fine tomb in its own right.
If you ever visit Delhi, you’ll probably want to see some tombs. But which tombs are the best? I’ve been to most of them now, so I can give you the lowdown.
Where: About 10km south of central Delhi. The yellow metro line goes to Green Park or Hauz Khas stations but both are 10 minutes’ walk to the complex itself. Have fun asking people for directions, as the whole area is called Hauz Khas as well so you’ll just confuse them.
Who: Firuz Shah Tughlaq (1309-1388), Sultan of Delhi.
Tomb features: The tomb is part of a larger archaeological site, the remains of a complex built by Sultan Alauddin Khilji (reigned 1296-1316) and renovated by Firuz Shah Tughlaq. So there’s a whole bunch of old ruins to look at. And a stagnant reservoir. Next to it there’s a modern complex of upmarket boutique shops, bars and restaurants, which I think is the main reason my friend who took me there likes it so much. And beyond that, there’s a deer park. The tomb itself isn’t much to look at from the outside. The ceiling’s ok, with some painted calligraphy, but it’s a poor state of repair.
Summary: If you like to combine your tomb viewing with a bit of clothes shopping and a latte, this is the tomb for you. Otherwise you can give it a miss.
After Mussoorie, I stopped over for a night in Chandigarh, the state capital of both Haryana and Punjab. My couchsurfing contact, Goldie, was a great host, but I was only using Chandigarh as a staging post, and didn’t really see any of the city. I intend to go back there and stay with Goldie again, on my way back to Delhi in a week or two. However, this time I was quickly on my way again to Shimla, the old summer capital of the British Raj.