Win the Wonders with 'The Right Hook' and MasterCard: The Taj Mahal

The building stands as an epic testament to enduring love and is the perfect place to create a priceless memory

Staring the mausoleum he had built for his wife, Emperor Shah Jahan looked at the Taj Mahal, the world’s most beautiful building and said, “The sight of this mansion creates a sorrowing sigh, and the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.” Thousands of visitors flock to Agra, India, to see it every year, few of them ever forget the experience. 

The Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and the emperor took it upon himself to construct the most beautiful building the world had ever seen. Officially designated as a World Heritage Site in 1982, the Taj stands proudly as a symbol of India’s romanticism and craftsmanship, and at the turn of the millennium it was selected as one of the “New” Seven Wonders of the World.

Visiting the ancient monument is all about creating those priceless memories, like beginning your adventure in the Four Points by Sheraton Agra hotel, just a stone’s throw from the memorial built by Shah Jahan. Experiencing the luxurious amenities of the hotel, nestled in the beating heart of Agra, seeing the world and sharing an unforgettable experience has never been easier thanks to the convenience of MasterCard.

From the hotel you can make your way through the myriad of winding streets towards the Taj, which can be accessed through either the west, south, or east gates – although the eastern gate does have the shortest queues. All three gates have separate lines for men and women.

The memory of what you’ll see inside will be truly priceless, and also just a memory – as cameras and filming are forbidden once you enter - but you’ll be busy exploring the ornamental gardens and gazing at the 40-metre-high minarets standing sentry at each corner. You’ll then make your way to the great dome under which rests the cenotaphs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal – but bear in mind their actual tombs are tucked discreetly out of sight in the basement.

While the promise of the Taj brings most visitors to Agra, it is not the only thing to see and commit to your memory. With your MasterCard to hand, you can easily take a trip to the Agra Fort, or head over to the Kinari Bazaar to take in the sights, sounds and scents of the ancient city. To top off the day, a must for any intrepid traveller is sampling the wondrous North Indian cuisine in one of the many authentic eateries before returning to your hotel for a well-deserved nights rest and the promise of more priceless experiences to come.

While seeing the Taj Mahal and the ancient city of Agra is just a dream to many, it can now become a reality with Newstalk and MasterCard. For two weeks, The Right Hook, with George Hook will run an on-air competition, with competitors asked to name seven items from a chosen category within the allocated time. The successful few will proceed to the grand finale, with two listeners qualifying every day. And that’s when it starts getting interesting – with the 20 finalists battling it out in a Where in the World-style contest, compered by the one and only George Hook.

Where to Stay

  • Four Points by Sheraton Agra Hotel
  • Radisson Blu Agra Taj East Gate
  • The Oberoi Amarvilas Hotel
  • The Trident Agra Hotel
  • The Grand Imperial Hotel 

Where to Play

  • Taj Mahal – The crowning jewel of India
  • Agra Fort - With the Taj Mahal overshadowing it, one can easily forget that Agra has one of the finest Mughal forts in India
  • Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah - Nicknamed the Baby Taj, the exquisite tomb of Mizra Ghiyas Beg should not be missed. 
  • Subhash Emporium - This expensive but honest marble-carving shop has been creating unique quality pieces for more than 35 years and is well worth a visit
  • Agra Beat Walking Tour - set out exploring the busy streets of old Agra for lost stories and past traditions as well as sampling some of the finest street food and local cuisines the city has to offer.

 Where to Eat

  • Esphahan - Agra’s finest traditional Indian restaurant, it is located inside the beautiful Oberoi Amarvilas hotel. The menu might not be as extensive as in other places but the dishes are exquisite and feature the best of Northern Indian tandoori.
  • Dasaprakash – Dasaprakash, which means ‘light of the servant of God’ was opened the in memory of the owner’s father, and specialises in South Indian vegetarian cuisine. 
  • Jahanpanah - The restaurant aims to serve the best of Awadhi cuisine; you will develop your senses by tasting these yet undiscovered flavours.
  • Pinch of Spice - Dishes are all authentic, and the exclusive fine dining experience extends beyond the food to the service and ambience. The restaurant outlet at Fatehabad Road accommodates guests over three floors and overlooks the beautiful Taj.
  • GMB Sweets - The Mecca for all the jalebi fans, GMB serves these golden discs of delight all through the day.

Thanks to MasterCard and Newstalk