Agra is one of the prominent destinations on the World Tourism map with three World Heritage sites by UNESCO -The Taj Mahal, Red Fort & Fatehpur Sikri. Agra is a vibrant centre of Culture, Art, and Religious philosophies.
It was once the capital of the Mughal empire and even today it seems to linger in the past. Moreover, their passion for building endowed the city with some of the finest structures in the world. It is very easy to slip away here through the centuries into the grandeur and intrigues of the Mughal court.
Emperor Akbar embarked on the construction of the massive Agra Fort in 1565. Shah Jehan, Akbar’s grandson ornamented the city with that masterpiece of Mughal architecture – the Taj Mahal and built several other beautiful buildings within the Agra fort.
Apart from its monuments, Agra has some exciting stuff for foodies. It is as famous for its Petha (a sweet made from pumpkin and flavored with rose water and saffron) as it is for the Taj Mahal.
Agra is famous for handicraft products such as Inlay work on Marvel, Leatherwork, Footwear, Brassware, Carpets, Jewellery, Zari, and Embroidery work.
Places to See
Taj Mahal: The Symphony of Love
The Taj Mahal was built as a mausoleum by Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died while giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. Her death left the emperor completely heartbroken, his hair is said to have turned grey overnight. The construction of the Taj began in 1632. The main building was completed in eight years, but the whole complex was not completed until 1653. Soon after the construction was completed, Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb and imprisoned in the Agra Fort. For the rest of his life, he could only gaze at his wondrous creation through a window. Shah Jahan died in 1666. His mortal remains are also buried here alongside Mumtaz.
Over 20,000 people from all over India and Central Asia worked on this striking building. Specialists were brought from as far away as Europe and produced the beautiful marble screens and marble inlay, which is made of thousands of semi-precious stones. It looks as pristine today as it was first constructed.
Agra Fort was built by Emperor Akbar in 1573. It is located on the right bank of the River Yamuna and is made entirely of red sandstone. The historical fort was once the erstwhile residence of the Mughals until 1638, although additions were made till the time of his grandson Shah Jahan. The fort has been made of red sandstone and was made at the same time as the Humayun’s Tomb of Delhi. It is the perfect example of Mughal art and architecture. Within the premises of Agra Fort famous monuments are the Pearl Mosque, Diwan-i I Khas, Diwan-i I Aam, Jasmin Palace, Rangmahal, Grape Garden, and Jahangiri Mahal.
The mausoleum of Akbar represents Din-i Ilahi, “the religion of God,” philosophy. It combines the best of Hindu and Muslim architectures in a superlative region. Akbar’s Tomb is situated in Sikandra, the outskirts of Agra, and spreads over an area of 119 acres. Emperor Akbar himself oversaw the construction of this tomb until his death. The Tomb of Akbar faces toward the rising sun instead of the Masjid of Mecca. The main tomb is surrounded by a beautiful garden.
Itmad-Ud-Daulah is the tomb of Mirza Ghyas Beg, a Persian who had obtained service in Akbar Court. The Marvel tomb was made by Emperor Jehangir’s Queen, Noorjahan, for his father Mirza Ghyas Beg during 1622-1628 CE.
The Craftsmanship at Itmad-Ud-Daulah foreshadows that of the Taj Mahal. It was here that. “Pietra Dura ”-the inlay work on marble was first used.
Fatehpur Sikri is an epic in red sandstone. A city of yesteryear, today lost in the mists of time. Fatehpur Sikri was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1564 A.D. Mughal Emperor Akbar had no heir. He visited holy men to enlist their prayers for his son.
It is essentially a fortified city built by the king and had been the capital of his Empire for fifteen years. Among the famous monuments are Diwan-i I Khas, Panchmahal, Anup Talab, Jodha Bai’s Palace, Jama Mosque, Buland Darwaza, and Tomb of Salim Chisti among many other famous monuments. Derived from Arab and central Asian tent encampments, the Imperial Complex is a work of pavilions arranged in formal geometry on a piece of land.
A unique blend of architectural excellence, as well as religious beliefs – sums up Fatehpur Sikri. It was built by Akbar to honor Sheikh Salim Chisti, whose prediction of the birth of a Mughal heir came true while Akbar was visiting the then-city of Sikri. In honor of the prophecy, Akbar built this city and Jama Masjid, a stunning mosque that is still in use today. He also undertook the construction of three palaces for each of his favorite wives, one a Hindu, one a Muslim, and one a Christian. An Indo-Islamic Masterpiece, Fatehpur Sikri looks resplendent best during sunset.
Mehtab Bagh is a char bagh garden complex and one of the last Mughal gardens in Agra. It is located just north of the Taj Mahal and overlooks the Agra Fort and Yamuna River on the opposite side. Perfectly aligned with the gardens of the Taj Mahal, Mehtab Bagh provides a picture-perfect view of the Taj from the fountain in front of the entrance gate. It is a popular sunset spot for nature enthusiasts.
Mehtab Bagh has four sandstone towers, one each at the corner with a huge octagonal tank right in the centre. It is believed that Shah Jahan especially got the bagh designed for his personal interests so he could come up here and admire the infinite beauty of the Taj Mahal. On moonlit nights, the clear reflection of the wondrous Taj Mahal in the waters of the park is a sight beyond description.
Top Hotels in Agra
Name & Type
The Gateway Hotel Taj
Ramada Plaza JHV
Hotel Surya, Kaiser Palace
The best places to eat in Agra are The Mughal Room, Brijwasi, Pinch of Spice, Only Restaurant, Zorba the Buddha, and Bellevue.
Shopping In Agra
The city is beautiful and offers an amazing shopping experience. If shopping is on your mind, then Agra won’t leave you disappointed! Agra is home to many people like artisans, jewelers, embroiders, carpet makers, and weavers who come here to showcase their precious talent. Agra is one of the largest markets for embroidery and textiles. Most of the major shopping complexes are situated near the Taj Mahal, the most famous ones being Sadar Bazaar, Kinari Bazaar, and Munro Road.
Things to Buy in Agra
When shopping in Agra, you just can’t miss splurging on the marble crafts. You can buy a miniature marble replica of the Taj Mahal or exquisite marble vases, ashtrays, and ornamental boxes. The other thing Agra is famous for is leather, be it leather boots, belts, bags, slippers, or jackets. Agra has markets where you can get some of the best deals on leather goods. Another must-buy item is the rugs and carpets. You can choose from a wide range of mats, rugs, wall hangings, and carpets.
The Best time to visit Agra
The best time to visit Agra is in the winter season between November to March when the weather is perfect for sightseeing. Another good time to visit is between August and October to witness the Taj Mahal at its best.
How to Reach Agra
It is situated on the Golden Triangle of the Tourist Circuit. The Taj Expressway is a great way to reach Agra if you are coming from Delhi. However, during the winter months, you should avoid using the expressway early morning and late at night, since it is surrounded by dense fog causing frequent accidents.
Agra Airport 8km
From Delhi 200km, Jaipur 240km, Fatehpur Sikri 40km
Agra Cantt. Station 6km
It’s traditional to take off your shoes before entering the inner part of the mausoleum and mosque.