This city needs no introduction. The heading of the article and featured image are self-sufficient to understand whom I am talking about. Being the capital of the Sultanate of Delhi for a while and the Mughal Empire, this city has witnessed several historic events including the establishment of the empire by Babur, construction of the Taj Mahal or the escape of Shivaji Maharaj. For years, until the British rule, Agra was one of the largest and most important cities in the Indian sub-continent. However, the origin of the city is much before the Sultanate of Delhi. It has been mentioned in the Mahabharata. The name Agra is derived from the Sanskrit word Agravena, meaning border of the forest.Both of the important monuments in Agra, the Agra Fort as well as the Taj Mahal are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Ibrahim Lodi, the last ruler of the Sultanate of Delhi ruled until 1526 when he was defeated by Babur in the battle of Panipat. Thus, the Mughal Empire was established with Agra as its capital until Akbar moved it to Fatehpur Sikri and brought it back to Agra in 1598. Fatehpur Sikri is about 36 km from Agra and has been described at THE ABANDONED CAPITAL.

The Agra Fort was built by a Rajput king, Raja Badal Singh. Sikander Lodi, the second last Sultan of Delhi built the mosques and palaces. The fort was constanly renovated by Akbar, as well as Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan built monuments out of white marble, and destroyed some of the previous ones for building his own.

As you enter the fort and turn right, you enter the main residential complex which includes the durbar hall, kitchen, etc. Moving further inside, you find the monuments built by Shah Jahan in white marble, for his daughters, his wives and himself. He also built the Meena Masjid, entirely from white marble. These marble monuments are studded with gems and stones brought from all over the world, from as far as Belgium, Iran, etc.


The durbar hall



One of the rooms in the fort



Rooms built by Shah Jahan out of white marble



A Masjid built by Shah Jahan: Notice the gems embedded in white marble


In the last years of Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb imprisoned him inside Agra Fort where he could see the Taj Mahal he built along the Yamuna river.


Shah Jahan spent the last years of his life here after being imprisoned by Aurangzeb



The Taj Mahal, as seen from the Agra Fort


In the siege of 1857, the British East India Company fired a cannon at the fort, which is still visible today.


The spot where the cannon fired by British East India Company landed


The Diwan-i-aam was the hall of the public audience. When Aurangzeb invited Shivaji, it was this place he was made to stand, behind the mansabdars, i.e. the military commanders. Shivaji took this as an insult and offended Aurangazeb. Thus enraged, he ordered Shivaji to be put to house arrest. Realising this, Shivaji made up a plan and escaped Agra Fort hiding in a basket of sweets. The Diwan-i-aam is constructed in such a manner that the king’s view won’t be blocked, even if viewed from any angle. Thus, no pillar here obstructs the king’s view.


The place where Aurangazeb used to sit in the Diwan-i-aam




Front view of the Diwan-i-aam


Corner view of the Diwan-i-aam: Notice that the king’s throne could still be seen and no pillar blocks the view


Notice the resemblance of the diwan-i-aam to the set used in the set of the TV serial Raja Shivchhatrapati:

Many squirrels are found at the Agra Fort as well as the Gwalior Fort and the Taj Mahal. I got the opportunity to click a good photograph of one of them who was searching for something in my camera’s bag.


A squirrel at Agra Fort



The Indian tricolour at the Agra Fort: This was also special because it was the Independence day when we visited



A yellow coloured pond skater found in Agra



A memorial of Shivaji outside the Agra Fort


Let’s move on to the Taj Mahal now. For those who aren’t familiar, it was built by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan’s third wife, who died during the birth of her fourteenth child. The Taj Mahal was completed in the year 1643. It has three entrance gates – east, west, and south. The Taj is open on all days except Friday, with Friday being meant for Muslims to offer prayers in the mosque.


The Taj Mahal


Map of the Taj Complex (

The entrance to the Taj is built from red stone and there are two mosques on either sides of the Taj. The Yamuna river flows just behind the Taj. The gardens in front of the Taj are known as Charbagh.


The main entrance to the Taj Complex
Sunset at Taj Mahal
The Yamuna river and the Mehtab Bagh
One of the mosques on the sides


Inside the main chamber, there are two tombs – one of Mumtaz and the other of Shah Jahan. Wait for a second, those tombs are just to deceive the visitors – they are fake! The real ones are in a lower chamber. The Taj Mahal complex also has an archaeological museum.

The area in and around the Taj is kept pollution free. Visitors’ vehicles are not allowed near the actual building. If you wish to enter from the East Gate, you need to park the vehicles at Shilpgram, about a kilometre from the gate. Golf cars and battery operated buses, manufactured by BHEL are the only public transport vehicles to transport tourists from Shilpgram to the East Gate.

The e-rickshaw or golf car by Agra Development Authority near the East Gate, Taj Mahal


So as you might be wondering, there are dark sides to the Taj Mahal too. Let us talk about them one by one.

Littering due to shoe covers

Everyone is required to remove their footwear before entering the main mausoleum. Hence, shoe covers are provided at INR 10 at the ticket counter, so that one can proceed without removing their footwear. If you didn’t get what I meant to say, you can refer the image below. There are two people wearing those covers on their shoes. However, after leaving from the mausoleum, people take out those covers and thus, these covers often lie on the ground, which pollutes the land near such an important wonder of the world. This rubbish keeps on littering and accumulating and it seems that nobody is responsible for punishing such offenders or spreading awareness about their acts, although armed police officials are deployed everywhere.


Littering due to shoe covers


Acid rains

Acid rains pose a danger to the Taj in today’s world. The refineries at nearby Mathura release hazardous gases like SO2 into the atmosphere which get mixed with water vapour and condense to form dilute acids. As the Taj is made up of marble (calcium carbonate – CaCO3), it reacts with this acid to form calcium sulphate and thus degrades the Taj. Indicators showing the current levels and permissible levels of such gases are installed in one of the corner minarets.

Stolen diamonds

Some of the walls of the Taj and its marble plinth were studded with diamonds and gems, which were later stolen by local thieves during the decline of the Mughal Empire and owing to poor maintenance. The slots of these gems can still be seen.

Black Taj theory

There are theories that Shah Jahan wanted to build a Black Taj Mahal for himself after building the white ones for Mumtaz. Some black marble stones found at Mehtab Bagh, on the opposite side of Yamuna support this theory. However, modern excavations state that these stones were blackened white stones and not originally black, thus opposing the theory. Hence, no Black Taj exists as of now.

Tejo Mahalaya theory

Historian P. N. Oak, in his book Taj Mahal: The True Story, claims that the Taj Mahal was originally a Shiva temple, called Tejo Mahalaya, built in 1155 CE. He claims that it was built by the Rajput king Jai Singh I. Some of the lotus designs found inside the Taj and radiocarbon dating of a few stones also support this theory. It is believed that the word ‘Taj Mahal’ is a corruption of this word used by Shah Jahan.

There is a unique kind of soda which is found here, in North India, known as Goti soda, found in a codd-neck bottle ( Its mouth is sealed with a marble instead of a cap. It is opened by pushing this marble inside the bottle. It was patented and named after British soft drink maker Hiram Codd.


Goti soda near Taj Mahal


Reaching Agra

Agra (Taj Mahal) is about 220 km from New Delhi via the Yamuna Expressway, which has been now extended till Lucknow. The National Highway 46 connects Agra to Mumbai via Gwalior, Indore, Dhule, Nashik, etc. Agra also lies on the North South Corridor, i.e. the Srinagar Kanyakumari Highway, which was revamped as an almost freeway in the Golden Quadrilateral Project.

Agra has several important railway stations, such as Agra Cantt., Raja ki Mandi, Idgah Agra, Agra Fort, Yamuna Bridge, etc. Mathura, an important junction is also very close to Agra. There are several trains that ply between Agra and Delhi (including India’s fastest train – Gatimaan Express) and Agra and Bengaluru/Hyderabad/Vizag/Chennai (such as several Rajdhanis). In comparison, fewer trains ply between Agra and Mumbai. One of them and the fastest is the Nizamuddin LTT AC SF Express which runs once a week.


Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin – Mumbai LTT AC Superfast Express at LTT


As of today, Agra has a small military airport which is also used for public transport. Not many airlines operate here. However, a new greenfield airport, the Taj International Airport is proposed to be built at Jewar, about 146 km from Agra and has been granted an approval by the Union Government.

A few words on my hotel… Although till date I haven’t named my hotel, this time I specifically chose to name it – Orient Taj Hotels and Resorts, Fatehbad Road ( That’s because in about INR 9600 for two days for two rooms, you get a plethora of facilities such as a badminton/tennis court, indoor games, swimming pool, gym, complimentary breakfast, etc. It also has a huge lawn and paved walkways for walking and jogging. The hotel is designed in the Mughal architectural style and its buildings are named after several emperors and their wives of the Mughal dynasty. Therefore, I would definitely recommend this hotel for your visit to Agra. MakeMyTrip gives you a cheap deal for the same.


A view of the hotel Orient Taj
The reception lobby


Interiors of a room



Notice the Mughal styled architecture in the above images


At its peak, i.e. at the end of the 17th century, the Mughal empire constituted about 25% of the world’s GDP. Yes, almost quarter of the GDP of the world came from the Mughal empire alone! This is because it comprised of the modern-day territories of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. And of course, there were no other gigantic powers such as the USA then! The Mughals also had a great military strength, which they needed to crush frequent rebels in Afghanistan, by the tribes living there. Taliban wouldn’t have dared to come up in their presence. Probably the US military must learn a few lessons from them. Though the Mughals were incapable of defeating the Marathas, it was because of the inability of the successors of Aurangazeb and not the strength of their empire. If his successors would have been as able as him, an undivided India would probably still be under Mughal dominance; probably a somewhat softer version of Saudi Arabia in South Asia. Well, that would have positive as well as ill-effects, but the rise of fall of empires is regular. The Sultanate of Delhi rose, fell to the Mughals, the Mughals fell to the Marathas, who fell under the British East India Company, which was replaced by the British Raj, and finally the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. However, this cycle should now stop as we are quite a stable democracy. Although this often happens in the modern age in countries like Libya (2011), Iraq (2003), USSR (1991), Iran (1979), etc., it won’t happen with us and by God’s grace, must never happen. Do visit Agra to remember the Mughals and their glory, while respecting the sovereignty and integrity of the Republic of India. Several movies such as Taj Mahal (1963) and Mughal-e-Azam (1960) have also been made to spread awareness about their legacy. Presenting you a beautiful song from the movie Taj Mahal:



In the 16th century CE, after Akbar emerged victorious against Chittor and Ranathambore, he shifted his capital from Agra to a new city to the south-west of Agra near Sikri. Sikri was then a small village and Akbar renamed it to Fatehpur Sikri, where Fatehpur means ‘victorious’. It was also built to honour the sufi saint Salim Chisti, whom Akbar greatly revered. However, it was abandoned later, in 1585 due to the exhaustion of a small lake which supplied drinking water to the city. Even today, the splendid monuments lie in complete isolation and resemble a medieval ghost town. The monuments now display the grandeur of the Mughal Empire during Akbar’s reign. Today, Fatehpur Sikri is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Fatehpur Sikri is about 36 kilometres from Agra Cantt. Railway station on Agra-Jaipur Road. There are two complexes here – Jodhabai complex and the Mosque complex located adjacent to each other.

Agra Cantt. railway station to Fatehpur Sikri

All monuments here are made up of red stone. The Jodhabai complex has palaces and residences of the ministers, such as the Diwan-i-khas (hall of private audience), Birbal’s house, Panch Mahal, etc. Let me describe a few important ones here. The Jodhabai complex has an entry fee of INR 40 per adult and provides you with audio guides at INR 118 in English. This is much cheaper than the charges of human guides, which cost you around INR 450 per group.


The Diwan-i-khas is the place where the cabinet meetings used to be conducted. It gives an appearance of a double storeyed structure from outside. It has a central pillar with intricate geometric floral designs. Some say that this hall was also used for the weighing ceremony of the emperor and princes on new year’s day.

The central pillar of Diwan-i-khas
The Diwan-i-khas

Panch Mahal

This is a five storied structure which every upper floor smaller in the area and the number of columns than its lower ones. No two columns here look the same. It is decorated with a royal chhatri on the top and it has 176 columns in all.

Panch Mahal

Sunahara Makan (Maryam’s mansion)

This mansion was built for Hamida Banu Begum, Akbar’s mother, who was given the title ‘Maryam’ by Akbar. Elder women were given importance in the Mughal culture. It was profusely embellished with paintings, and is hence, also known as Sunahara Makan.

Maryam’s mansion

Jodhabai’s Palace

This palace was built for Queen Jodha, the wife of Emperor Akbar.

Jodhabai’s Palace


This was the hall of public audience. This is the place where the emperor and the courtiers used to interact with the common public and is hence, located at the boundary wall of the complex.

The Diwan-i-aam

Apart from these, the Jodhabai complex has a mint, pond, the royal treasury, a board of pacchisi (a Mughal game like Ludo), a girls’ school, etc.

Interior designs on the walls

The other complex – mosque complex houses the Jama Masjid, Buland Darwaza, tomb of Salim Chisti, etc. Entry to this complex is free of cost; however, it is too crowdy inside. The Buland Darwaza opens to the residential village of Fatehpur Sikri.

Entrance to the mosque complex

While reaching Fatehpur Sikri from Agra, all vehicles are parked at the Gulistan parking and CNG buses take tourists to the Jodhabai and mosque complexes. They charge only INR 10 per person, which is pretty cheap.

Black pigs at the Gulistan parking lot

After serving as the capital from 1571 to 1585, Akbar abandoned Fatehpur Sikri and moved the capital to Lahore for a brief period, before shifting it back to Agra in 1598. Despite being the capital for a very short period, Fatehpur Sikri witnessed great events such as the proclamation of Din-i-Ilahi, a religion founded by Akbar by merging the best parts of different religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, etc. Several ministers of Akbar, including Birbal were followers of this new religion. Not only did Akbar tolerate other faiths but he also encouraged constructive debates among them. All these discussions took place at the Ibadat Khana at Fatehpur Sikri. In today’s modern world, Akbar sets a true example of a secular leader in Islamic countries. Although Akbar is infamous for rampaging several regional kingdoms, it is also equally true that he was a man of principles and the ‘real’ king for his subjects. His life has been recorded in his official biography, the Akbarnama, composed by one of his navaratnas, Abul Fazl, as Akbar was himself illiterate. In the brief period of stay at Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar gave the true message of secularism to the world.

Abul Fazl presenting the Akbarnama to Akbar (Wikipedia)

This great Mughal Emperor was illiterate; he could neither read nor write. However, that had not stopped Akbar from cultivating the acquaintance of the most learned and cultural poets, authors, musicians and architects of the time – relying solely on his remarkable memory during conversations with them.

– Indu Sundaresan



An ancient folk tale talks about a king who was cured of leprosy when a sage offered him water from a sacred pond. To repay his deeds, the king constructed a massive wall atop a hill which has been revered for its strategic location since then. This fort, which later became a huge sprawling city with a population today, with a population of about Latvia or Gabon. This is Gwalior, the fourth largest city in Madhya Pradesh, India.Gwalior is not a prominent and is an often-underrated tourist destination. The city has fallen and risen to several kingdoms from the Chandelas, Tomards, Sultanate of Delhi, Mughals, Marathas and British East India Company, and was a stronghold of the Maratha clan of Shindes (Scindias). The city has everything to offer for history lovers. The most magnificent monument of the city, the Gwalior Fort, itself houses several monuments and buildings built during the ancient and medieval ages.

Map of the Gwalior Fort; source: Wikipedia

There are no historical pieces of evidence as to who built this fort; however, as per the legend, it was built by King Suraj Sen Pal in the 3rd century CE. The fort houses several monuments, of which the important ones are: –

  1. Chaturbhuj Temple
  2. Man Singh Palace
  3. Gujari Mahal
  4. Vikram Mahal and Karan Mahal
  5. Jahangir Mahal and Shah Jahan Mahal
  6. Jauhar Kund
  7. Suraj Kund
  8. Saas Bahu ka Mandir
  9. Teli ka Mandir

Chaturbhuj Temple

The Chaturbhuj Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu (also known as Chaturbhuj) and it is said that the first written evidence of the numeral zero is found here. It falls on the ascending walkway to the interiors of the fort.

The Chaturbhuj Temple

Man Singh Palace

The fort’s north eastern entrance has a stunning stone gate after which you enter the fort’s palace complex. The most important and largest of these palaces is the Man Singh Palace or the Man Mandir Palace. It was built by the Tomar king Man Singh in 1508. It has a ground floor and the rest is underground. The palace interiors are carved with several architectural styles. In the underground floors, one can find the private amenities like the swimming pool. The king had nine wives, eight of which were Tomar and stayed at the Man Singh Palace and the eighth wife, a Gurjar, Mrignayani, lived at the Gujari Mahal as she demanded a separate private palace for herself. This was because she refused to obey the regulations of the Tomar clan, such as the pardah system, which was prevalent in Rajput dynasties.

Architectural styles of the Man Singh Palace
This pipe was used for internal communication in the palace. Whatever one speaks from one end could be heard from the other.

Gujari Mahal

Unlike the other buildings, the Gujari Mahal is located at the foot of the fort near the ‘Qila Gate’ and has been converted to an archaeological museum now. Not many are aware of this museum and hence, it has very low visitors. Most of the monuments at the museum belong to the ancient age and have been partly destroyed.

The Gujari Mahal, as seen from the upper fort

Vikram Mahal and Karn Mahal

The Vikram Mahal was built by Man Singh’s son Vikramaditya Tomar. Similarly, the Karn Mahal was built by Kirti Singh, also known as Karn Singh.

Me standing before the Karn Mahal

Jahangir Mahal and Shah Jahan Mahal

Gwalior fell to the Mughal Empire after Akbar’s invasion. After this, the Mughal emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan built their own palaces here.

Jahangir Fort, Gwalior Fort

Jauhar Kund

Jauhar was a practice in medieval times of killing oneself after the death of the husband due to invasion by Islamic forces. To prevent oneself from being subjugated as a sex slave, the wives of Rajputs used to jump in a pyre. The swimming pool used to be filled with sandalwood which was burnt and one by one, everyone used to jump in it. It is said that the Hindu practice of sati has evolved from jauhar. For more about jauhar, visit Jauhar, Wikipedia.

The Jauhar Kund: Since it is not in use currently, it is not well maintained and has been infested with algae

Suraj Kund

This is a pond inside the fort, a few kilometres away from the palace complex. This is the pond where king Man Singh used to bathe every day. There is a small temple in its centre and today, the pond contains blooms of lotuses.

Lotuses in the Suraj Kund
The temple in the Suraj Kund

Saas Bahu ka Mandir

It was originally named as the Sahastrabahu Mandir and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Sahastrabahu means a thousand arms. Hence, it was meant for Lord Vishnu with a thousand arms. It was built in 1092 CE by King Mahipala of the Kachchhapaghata dynasty. There are two temples – one for the king’s wife and the other for the king’s daughter-in-law; hence the name ‘Sas Bahu’.

The larger temple, or the Sas ka Mandir
Sculptures inside the temple
The smaller temple, or Bahu ka Mandir

Teli ka Mandir

The word ‘teli’ means an oil presser, i.e. one who extracts mineral oil. The temple was built around the 8th or 13th century and was originally dedicated to Lord Vishnu, but later converted to worship Shiva. Both, the Sas Bahu and Teli temples are non-functional today.

The Teli ka Mandir: There was some refurbishing taking place at the left, which spoilt the view

Other monuments

The fort has several other monuments, including a few Jain temples, statues dedicated to Jain tirthankaras, a well known as the Assi Khamba ki Baori and other modern buildings such as a Gurudwara, the Scindia school, etc.

The Assi Khamba ki Baori (eighty pillar well)

Apart from the monuments and buildings that the fort houses, it provides you an amazing view of the underlying city of Gwalior. Everything from the railway station, the Roop Singh Stadium, the different temples on the adjacent hills, etc. is visible. That is enough to realise the significance and strategic importance of this fort.

View of the city

Suggestions and advices for tourists

As a friendly hand, I wish to provide some help while visiting this fort.

  1. While leaving for the fort, the cab/auto driver will ask you as to which gate should they drop you. There are two gates from which you can enter, one is the ‘Qila gate’ where you need to go walking on the hill fort and the other is the gate from which cars can enter. All 4 wheelers, including Ola cabs, can drop you atop the hill directly, charging INR 50 extra as the vehicle entry fee. However, if you enter from this gate, you won’t encounter the Chaturbhuj temple and Gujari Mahal. Instead, you can view the Jain statues.
  2. If you have the ability to climb the 104 metre hill, I would recommend to climb and go. If you enter from the Qila gate, some cab drivers would ask you for a tour from their cab at INR 450, which is non-bargainable. I don’t think it’s worth the cost; hence, able bodied people may climb the hill on foot. For just ascending or descending the hill by cab, they cost you INR 100; whereas the same can be availed on an Ola cab by paying just INR 50 extra.
  3. You would require a guide for exploring the Man Singh palace as it has no setup for audio guides and it is quite confusing inside. That’s the reason the locals call it as a ‘Bhool bhoolaiya mahal’.
  4. The same ticket is valid for the Man Singh Palace, Teli ka Mandir and Sas Bahu ka Mandir. The Vikram Mahal, Karn Mahal, Jahangir Mahal, etc. together have a separate ticket.
  5. Free wifi is provided on the fort.
  6. There is no good facility for lunch there so you should better carry your own food; there is only a single cafeteria but there isn’t any proper lunch available there either. The rest are small stalls where you’ll find only tea, chat, soft drinks, chips, etc.
  7. For transportation on the fort, you can avail the e-rickshaw facility which charges INR 40 per person. It takes you from the palace complex, lets you explore the Suraj Kund, Teli ka Mandir, Sas Bahu ka Mandir, Gurudwara and drops you back.

The e-rickshaw at Gwalior Fort
  1. There is a light and sound show every evening at the fort complex.

Apart from the fort, there are a few other monuments in Gwalior, such as the Moti Mahal, Jai Vilas Palace, Sun temple, etc. However, due to time constraints, I could not visit them.

In 2010, Gwalior made history and came into the news once again. This time, it was not the fort but the Roop Singh Stadium, where Sachin Tendulkar scored 200 runs, not out of 147 balls. He became the first batsman in ODI cricket to score a double century.

The Roop Singh Stadium where Sachin hit a double ton, as viewed from Gwalior Fort

Some of the highlights of this match:

Getting there

Gwalior is an important railway station on the Delhi-Chennai main line and several trains originating from Delhi and north and bound for South India, Odisha, Chhatisgarh or Maharashtra, such as the Taj Express or Bhopal Shatabdi halt here. From Mumbai, one can reach Gwalior by the Punjab Mail or similar trains. I took the Punjab Mail to reach there. It is one of the oldest trains of the Indian Railways, inaugurated in 1912. It was used for transporting British government officials from Bombay port to Delhi, the capital.

Punjab Mail, which now runs between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus Mumbai and Ferozepur Cantt.

Gwalior also has a small airport, known as Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia Air Terminal, with regular services to Indore, Delhi and Mumbai. With a population of more than 19 lakhs and in order to boost tourism, there is a need for upgrading the airport to schedule regular domestic services to major metro cities such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, etc. This is quite essential as more and more passengers are shifting to air travel in the recent years.

Until India’s independence in 1947, Gwalior was a princely state under the Scindias. Vasundhara Raje Scindia, the current Chief Minister of Rajasthan is also from this royal family. Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia, a Member of Parliament and a Congress politician is the current titular king of Gwalior. However, there is an interesting story about their royal clan which I wish to share.

Jayajirao Scindia, the ruler of Gwalior from 1843 to 1886, was loyal to the British East India Company. He had initially promised help to Rani Laxmibai, the ruler of the state of Jhansi. However, when Laxmibai arrived at Gwalior, Jayajirao refused to protect her and betrayed his promise. Hence, Rani Laxmibai died at a tender age of 29 fighting against the British in the rebellion of 1857 a Gwalior. Her samadhi is situated at Phool Bagh in Gwalior. Because of this betrayal, the districts of Jhansi and Lalitpur refused to be a part of Madhya Pradesh and is hence seen as a protruding part of the state of Uttar Pradesh. To this day, some of the patriots of Jhansi still hate the citizens of Gwalior, to some extent. Because of this inclusion of Jhansi and Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh, the train crosses the MP/UP boundary several times while moving from Bhopal to Gwalior.

Samadhi of Rani Laxmibai (Image source: Aaj Tak)
Gwalior and Jhansi; the protruding part of Uttar Pradesh

However, this story is more than a century old now and it should not be your reason to hate the Scindias or not visit Gwalior. As I mentioned, it is an underrated tourist destination and hence, you should definitely visit it if you have a keen interest in history. It is one of the few ancient cities in Central India existing since the 3rd century. I urge everyone, regardless of your nationality, to visit Gwalior. India also has an electronic visa system for foreign nationals. After exploring Gwalior, I visited Agra, the capital of the Great Mughal Empire, which I would talk about soon. See you all at Agra 🙂

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-14 at 1.13.54 PM
Me with my mom at Gwalior station, while leaving for Agra




  1. The blog does not contain any information confidential to Samsung Electronics or SRI Bangalore.
  2. Yet if you are a Samsung employee and find anything against the company interests, please feel free to comment or drop a mail at
  3. You may feel that this blog is addressed to third and final year students of VJTI; however, most of the information here is non-specific for VJTIans.
  4. SRIB’ here refers to Samsung R&D Institute, Bengaluru (Bangalore).
  5. As per the office policy, photography is prohibited inside its premises. Hence, this blog contains limited photos.
  6. As I said, it is against the company policy to post confidential information. Hence, please do not comment or ask questions regarding that.


This was the notice posted outside the VJTI TPO which prompted me to write this as early as possible. I’ll first describe the qualification round for the internship process.

Securing an internship:

Round 1:

The eligibility criteria were a CPI with 7.5+. There was an aptitude test with questions on English, IQ and maths. It is quite easy if you have appeared for the Olympiads and scholarship exams at your school. If you need to practice this, you can refer to After this, there was a coding test with three questions to be solved in one hour. They were quite simple: –

  1. Find the sum of all prime numbers from a to b.
  2. Find all triplets (of three numbers) in an array which yield a given product.
  3. Find the kth largest number in a binary search tree.

This aptitude and coding test was held on

There was no elimination after the aptitude. However, only 35-40 students were selected for round 2 (group discussions).

Round 2:

This was a group discussion. Students were made into groups of 10-12 and were called for a group discussion. They were judged by 2-3 technical people and one senior HR representative from SRIB. After this round, 23 students were selected for the internship. Their results were announced the following day during the pre-placement talk.

The journey for the internship:

We were provided air travel to and from our home city to Bengaluru. Tickets were booked by the General Affairs team at SRIB. The problem was that the airlines being Indigo, we had a baggage allowance of only 15 kgs in the check-in baggage and 7 kgs in the hand baggage. On our arrival at Bengaluru, we waited outside the airport for about 2 hours after which our buses dropped us to our hotel, the Chancery Pavilion [1], where we were supposed to stay for a week. While there are many appreciable things about the hotel, it does have a few drawbacks. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi; however, only two devices per room can be connected to it and you can’t change the devices later. Two of us stayed in one room and as there were 350 interns in our batch, the hotel was almost full of interns!

The Chancery Pavilion, Bengaluru

The food at Chancery Pavilion was excellent. We were offered with breakfast, lunch and dinner every day which was a grand buffet. The first two days were an orientation in the hotel’s ballroom.

The orientation:

The orientation was conducted in the ballroom of the hotel with all interns seated together. It was so packed that some of the interns didn’t get places to sit (we were the unlucky ones) and were made to adjust with others. We were made to fill a form with our details, submit our mark sheets, documents, etc. We were briefed about the company policy, rules and regulations and were also guided about the mandatory Software Competency Test (SWC) for getting a pre-placement offer. Representatives from ICICI Bank were also called for opening bank accounts in ICICI Bank for those who didn’t have them. We were also provided with our offer letter here.

Apart from this, we were divided into different teams with one or two colleges in a single team and had an informal competition on different themes such as making a war cry, truth and dare, treasure hunt, etc. These were just for fun and for increasing our interaction with the interns of other colleges.

In the meanwhile, we had to search for a PG for the rest of our stay near our office. We stayed at Innovative Petal [2] at Doddanekundi. I’m willing to share the contact of the manager if anyone needs it. For the first two days of the office, there were buses to drop us from our hotel.

About SRIB:

SRIB consists of two buildings – Phoenix and Orion within the premises of Bagmane Tech Park [3][4]. Phoenix is entirely Samsung while only a few floors of Orion belong to Samsung. It is Samsung’s largest R&D unit outside Korea!


SRIB Phoenix building



SRIB Orion building


Phoenix building has 12 floors. There are eight elevators altogether; of which the elevators on the left side halt only at floors 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12. Similarly, the elevators on the right-side halt at floors 2, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11. 2nd floor is the cafeteria and 3rd floor is where the Managing Director, HR, General Affairs and IT team sits. Hence, all elevators halt on these two floors. 1st floor contains a parking lot and gym and hence, no elevator halts here. The theoretical capacity of every elevator is 20 people; however, I’ve never seen more than 16 people inside it anytime because there is simply no space for more to get in. Post lunch, every elevator gets crowded just like a typical Mumbai local and in order to go upwards from the 2nd floor, people usually board a downward bound lift to the ground floor and comfortably go upwards then. This is analogous to what people living in Kandivali and Malad do in the morning time (going ‘return’ from Borivali)!

All interns and employees are provided with a meal card (which is the same as the ID card) which contains NFC by which payments at food joints at the cafeteria can be made. We are provided with an amount of INR 118.75*(no. of working days in the month) at the start of every month with a break-up of INR 30 for breakfast and 88.75 for lunch. Dinner is offered free of cost and if you wish to have evening snacks, you need to pay from your own pocket. There are various options for breakfast – South Indian delicacies like dosas, idlis, medu vadas, upma, etc. as well as sandwiches, burgers, subs, pasta, etc. For lunch, you also have an option of Korean food which is considerably expensive starting at INR 150! Apart from food, you can also use the meal card for buying chips, chocolates, etc. or relishing ice-cream at Baskin Robbins. All in all, the 2nd floor is like a typical food court in a mall!

If you think this wasn’t enough, every floor has a pantry which offers you with 24×7 free tea, coffee and cold drinks. There are refrigerators and microwaves too, to cool/warm food you bring along.

The working days are Monday to Friday. Saturday, Sunday and all public festivals are holidays. It is compulsory to work 45 hours a week, an average of 9 hours per day and a minimum of 4 hours per day. Office attire is informal. Formal clothes are not required. However, do carry a set of formals for the interview.

Load shedding is a major problem at SRIB. As Karnataka is facing an electricity crisis, the lights get switched off anytime, even during the working hours. Everything else, such as the computers and coffee machines run on generators.

The actual internship:

The interns were made to sit in different board rooms or training rooms. They were segregated into different departments: –

  1. Android
  2. Multimedia
  3. Intelligent Services
  4. Tizen
  5. Networking
  6. Communication Protocols
  7. IoT
  8. Knox and pay
  9. Web
  10. CTO

The work and kind of project allotted differed from department to department. Some projects were single-handedly done by an intern whereas for some of them, there were 2-3 interns in a group. Every project had a mentor and the project was more or less the mentor’s own idea. I worked in the Android team and my work was with the Linux kernel.

We had to submit weekly reports for the project in the form of PPTs to our mentor every Friday/Monday. We also had a mid-term review and end review with the Vice President of our department. I also used to have a talk with my mentor’s manager after 3-4 weeks for the status of the ongoing project. All mentors and managers are highly experienced people in the field. These mentors also give reviews which is an important contributor for getting a PPO.

My mentor was one of the most knowledgeable people I had ever met, given the knowledge possessed by our faculty members. He was so kind that he had also taken me for a treat twice! Moreover, all the interns of Android platform once had a lunch at Barbeque Nation!


Me along with Gaurav Singh from IIT Madras (behind me), his mentor Anish (red) and my mentor Sarbojit (black) at Bagmane Food Court



Android Platform Interns at Barbeque Nation, Soulspace Arena Mall



A hackathon (a coding test) was conducted a week prior to the Software Competency Test which also had cash prizes.

The process for the PPO:

Round 1: Software Competency Test (SWC):

In order to get a PPO, it is mandatory to pass this test though it does not guarantee that you will get a PPO if you pass the test. It was conducted twice (with two attempts), with a gap of one week. It has one coding question for three hours with 50 test cases. Passing all test cases is mandatory to clear this test. It is relatively simple as compared to the coding tests of other companies such as Morgan Stanley. Dynamic programming is usually not asked here. The emphasis is only on DFS, BFS, backtracking, binary search, brute force approach, etc. There is an internal coding platform at Samsung – SW Expert Academy on which you can practice such questions. Submitting codes on other coding websites such as hackerrank, codechef, etc. is considered as a violation of the company policy. The test is held on Samsung’s own software which disables everything apart from IDEs, Notepad and Calculator.

Round 2: Interviews:

Post the SWC, selected students were called for two interviews – technical and HR. The questions asked in the technical interview were diverse, ranging from different subjects like DBMS, networking, operating systems, compiler design, etc. Prepare well for this interview! The HR interview was comparatively easy. Nobody is eliminated directly after the technical interview.

The results of the PPO were conveyed to our TPO after 2-3 weeks. 16 out of 23 students from VJTI got it and I am one of them. The package offered to us is a CTC of INR 16 lakhs p. a.

Interns’ day:

At the end of the internship, an Interns’ day was organized by Samsung at Hotel Zuri, Whitefield [5]. There were dance and singing performances by interns followed by high tea and DJ.


The Zuri, Whitefield


Roaming in and around Bangalore:

Although Bangalore/Bengaluru was not an entirely new city for me (I had visited it in May 2016 [6]), we all did visit a few places in and around the city. I will talk about this in a separate post coming soon!

This is one of the longest posts that I’ve ever written and it deserves its length. After this internship, I found a new myself. It has given me immense knowledge on different subjects as well as sharpened my creativity. I got an opportunity to interact with experts in different subjects. Most importantly, I loved the office ambiance, the environment and the kind of work. Trust me, I left SRIB with a heavy heart and I’m truly missing it now; looking forward to being back soon!

All the best! Looking forward to see you at SRIB!