Arya Griha, Agravana, Akbarabad, Agra! Located on the banks of the river Yamuna, in the Indo-Gangetic plain, the city of Agra brims with historical importance dating back to the early Aryan period. Agra witnessed its Golden period as the capital of the Mughal Empire under the reign of Akbar the Great. Several monuments, gardens and architectural marvels were built till the rule of Emperor Shah Jahan.
The Taj Mahal
The first pick for any tourist in Agra is the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal, a pure white marble mausoleum built in the memory of Shah Jahan’s late wife Mumtaz Mahal is considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is the most important attraction for those planning a holiday in Agra
. It is one of the three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Agra. While the spectacular white domes of Taj Mahal is the most noticed aspect of the monument, it comprises of several intricate structures, designed and carved very aesthetically. The interiors of the Taj Mahal are an astounding artistry of precious and semi-precious gemstones. The crypts of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz are located beneath the inner chamber with their faces turned right and towards Mecca.
The next monument to head for after a tizzying Taj experience will be the Agra Fort. This monument was the nerve-centre of the Mughal Empire and housed all the emperors from Babur to Aurangazeb. Numerous sites and structures are dotted within the palatial fortress such as the Diwan-i-Am, Anguri Bagh (Grape Garden), Diwan-i-Khas, Moti Masjid and Shah Jahani Masjid. It is the second monument in Agra commemorated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The next landmark to feast on with your senses is the third UNESCO World Heritage Site and Mughal City Fatehpur Sikri. A stupendous piece of architecture in Fatehpur is the Buland Darwaza (Gate of Magnificence). Apart from the Mughal architecture, the other noteworthy hotspots to hang out in Agra are the Mankameshwar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Keetham Lake. The Keetham Lake is one of India’s noteworthy bird sanctuaries and is home to several endemic and migratory aquatic birds one can enjoy on their Agra holidays in North India.
The bazaars of Agra are the ultimate haven for lovers of handicrafts and antiquities. The must-go places for shopaholics are the Taj Mahal complex, Kinari Bazaar, Loha Mandi, Raja Ki Mandi, Sanjay place and many more. Agra is famous for traditional marble works, leather goods like chappals, purses and belts, Persian rugs and carpets, brassware, antique jewelry and vibrant clothes at reasonable prices. To preserve your memories of this magnificent city, one can shop for oriental souvenirs in Gangotri in Taj Mahal Complex or in UPICA in Sanjay Place.
The cuisine of Agra is inherits its taste and richness from the Mughali influence. Meat-lovers can pamper their taste buds with delicacies like creamy sauces with crunchy nuts, pasandhas, nargisi koftas and kebabs. Some of the popular restaurants to head for are the Taj Khema, Navratan, Capri, Gazebo and the South Indian Hotel Dasha Prakash. Sweets and savories like Pedha, Gajak and Dalmoth from Kinari Bazaar are ideal take-aways back home.
Planning your trip
The best times to visit Agra are during the months of October - November and February - March when temperatures hover around 16-25°C. It is advisable to avoid visiting the city in the other months due to the continental climatic conditions prevailing there. Agra is an extremely popular holiday destination included in all the Golden triangle tours
Agra is situated just 185km from New Delhi and is well connected by roads and railways. Rail is the most convenient mode of travel with trains like the Shatabdi Express and Taj Express shuttling to and from Agra everyday. Agra airport is located in Kheria about 6 km away from the main city and is accessed by domestic flights and numerous packages from New Delhi
. Traveling within the local area is made easy by the ready availability of auto-rickshaws, cabs and cycle rickshaws.
Since tourism is the heart throb of Agra, it is dotted with numerous luxury hotels and spas and is home to Asia’s largest spa Kaya Kalp. For the budget traveler, we would recommend Hotel Grand, Athithi, Savoy etc. offering well-furnished rooms in the range of 675 to 1800 INR per day. A tourist package of 2 days and 1 night is ideal for a couple and this could cost anywhere between 6000 - 8000 INR. Make sure you devote a whole day for shopping and about half a day for each of the tourist hotspots to have an enchanting Agra experience.
So pick up your rucksacks and immerse yourself in the aura of Agra!