The historical city of Agra has everything to be proud of. Housing one of the wonder of the world, Taj Mahal, the city boasts of multitudinous monumental mammoths like the Red Fort, Fatehpur Sikri etc. Travelling to the city allows one to go back and live the erstwhile days of the Mughals. This is one of the most historical cities of India and is very well liked with all parts of the country and the world.
The city of Agra is popular for Taj Mahal, the symbol of undying love of an emperor and his wife, Agra Fort, the architectural masterpiece from Akbar the great and many other monumental heritage. These monuments resonate of the bygone years that were filled with sumptuousness and grandeur. Watching the sunrise and sunset at the Taj Mahal is an ethereal view one should not miss.
The city is strewn with small alleys that pave way for the bazaar where shopping for the lovely ‘Mojaris’ is an indispensable activity.
When To Go
Agra experiences extreme temperatures in summers and winters and moderate temperatures in other seasons. The best time to visit Agra is from October to March.
An important destination of Golden Triangle tour of India, Agra can be best explored during October to March. This period is good for sightseeing and spending evenings in Taj Mahal. April to June is dry and hot, but Taj Mahal visit can be undertaken, keep summer clothes, sunglasses and water bottles.
- Winters (November to March) are very cool and temperature can touch as low as 2°C and accompanied by thick fogs prohibiting travels due to poor visibility. Flights can be delayed during this period. However, winter months are ideal taking up tour packages for Agra and enjoying all tourist activities.
- Summers (April to June) are hot and not considered to be ideal for visit. The climate is hot and dry but a visit to the beautiful Taj Mahal is always possible.
- Monsoons (June to October) rain showers are expected, with heavy rains in July, Taj Mahal looks beautiful in the rain drops.
Agra is known for impressive monuments, but also is equally renowned for traditional arts, paintings and handicrafts. An enthusiast traveler can enjoy the shopping in Agra very much. One can get all kinds of metal wares and fine crafts from the street stalls to super malls in Agra.
The city is famous for much rare collection of handicraft items, valuable leather items like shoes, belts and bags, exquisite jewelries, foot wears and embroidery works. Agra brassware and carpets are renowned world over. Agra’s delicious taste is a favorite attraction for tourists and the sweet taste lies in the pedas, gajak and dalmoth. Agra is a favorite spot for Mughulai cuisines as well.
Munro Road, Kinari Bazar and Sadar Bazar are the main shopping areas in Agra. These main markets are located in and around the Taj Mahal.
One can shop for handicraft items and artifacts from Government owned Gangotri, the UP State Emporium located at the complex of Taj Mahal Complex. This emporium has marvelous collections of marbles, leather items, brassware items and textile items.
The Shilpagram crafts village is a praise worthy place to have wide range of shopping facilities for handicrafts and other artisan items. UPICA at Sanjay Place located on the busy MG Road and UP Handlooms are some other sources to shop for souvenirs and presentation items.
The most ancient reference of Agra can be seen in the great epic the Mahabharata and the modern period reference is by Ptolemy. The present Agra city was established by the King of the Lodhi Dynasty, Sikander Lodhi in 16th century.
Agra, with all present massive and imposing structural monuments, reached its pinnacle during the Mughal Rule from 1526 AD to 1658. As the capital of Mughal Kingdom, Agra thrived with many activities and was liberally bestowed with many modern facilities and Royal features.
During Mughal period, many extolling gardens, many architectural marvel palaces and artificial lakes were constructed. Agra fort, constructed by the Rajput rulers, were modernized and renovated by Mughal emperors Akbar and Shah Jahan. All the majestic monuments constructed during the Mughal period were specimens of perfect blend of Islamic and Hindu architectural styles.
Itmad-ud-Daulah built in 1628 by empress Noor Jahan and the Taj Mahal, a crowning master piece of architecture built in 1648 by Shah Jahan are exquisite displays of seventeenth century architectural excellence.
The city reached greatest height during the period of Shah Jahan and later he himself was responsible for the decline of the Agra city. It was the decision of Shah Jahan to shift the capital of Mughal kingdom to Shahjahanabad in Delhi was the turning point at which the decline of Mughal Kingdom and Agra has started. Even after independence, Agra has continued in the second level of cities, even with the World Wonder Taj Mahal.
Agra is an exquisite centre of culture and arts. The specimens of art and culture in the great Agra city are not only impressive but are also the mirrors of the cultural and artistic talents of the Indian populace during the grandeur past. This city houses many ancient temples, mosques, forts, several mausoleums, tombs and historical monuments. Agra Fort and Taj Mahal are the incomparable structures in the city.
Apart from the well accomplished grandeur monuments, Agra is renowned for many art performances. Breathtaking traditional paintings, folk dances, folk music, embroideries, unparallel cloth designing and stitching are the reminiscences of the past glory and some of the talents are still preserved in this historical town.
Sculptors, jewelers, musicians, painters, carpet makers, artisans, metal workers, weavers and embroiderers were frequent visitors to the Royal courts during the Mughal Period. There were many talented artists and artisans were there among the locals.
Balkeshwar Temple located on the banks of River Yamuna, Kailash Temple placed at Sikandra, Mankameshwar Temple at Rawatpara, Prithvinath Temple situated at Rajpur Chungi and Mahakali Temple located at Sikandra are some of the important temples in Agra. These temples are the hub of religious and cultural activities.
Travel within city
Agra is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, and the reason for this is quite well known. Agra houses one of the Wonders of the World. The tourist influx in the town of Agra is always quite heavy due to this reason. Travelling around the town of Agra can be done through a multitude of ways, including electric buses, Tongas, tempos, cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws.
Cycle rickshaws are available aplenty in the town of Agra. Traveling through a cycle rickshaw can be quite time consuming, although this is a very cheap mode of travel with charges hovering around Rs 5 to 10.
You can also opt for Tongas in Agra. Tongas are horse drawn carriages that run throughout the town. Tonga charges are very low too, and you can opt for a Tonga ride as it is faster than a cycle rickshaw ride. Charges will range around Rs 5 to 15.
Electric buses in Agra cover all the major areas in the town, but these tend to be crowded normally, hence opting for buses is not a very good option. Charges are very low though, ranging from Rs 3 to 6.
Tempos are also available, and these are shared vehicles which can be more comfortable than buses for slightly elevated rates. Tempo rates will vary from Rs 5 to 10. These are a safe mode of travel and can be taken up during night time.
Present Agra thriving with many facilities has much in store to offer great night life. The restrictions on the Indian culture on night life are visible in Agra significantly.
The Taj Mahal at night with all kinds of multi colored illuminations, the grandeur reflection of the majestic monument in the serene Yamuna water and the street vendors selling art crafts and fast food is really enjoyable. One can have the maximum enjoyment during the days with more moonlight. Taj Mahal brings in mind the grandeur castles in fairy tales. Five nights around the full moon day are great days for viewing the eternal beauty of the Taj Mahal.
The outskirts of Taj Mahal complex houses many movie theaters, pubs, cafeterias, Internet cafes and bar parlors. They are open mostly up to midnight 12’o clock. One can spend evenings in the Agra Fort by viewing the splendid light and sound show depicting the rich stories and glorious past of Agra.
One of the prime attractions of the country, Agra Fort, is UNESCO World heritage site that was build in tenure of 96 years under the reign of King Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jehan. The imposing structure has various complexes inside and is replete with mosques, pavilions and many other monumental edifices. Various historical incidents still resonates in the walls of the fort.
Sunrise to sunset everyday Charges:
Rs 30 for Indians and Rs 350 for Foreigners
Buland Darwaza, the largest among the gateway in the world is an imposing structure that came into existence in year 1575. Standing 15 storeys tall, the giant structure is made of red sandstone. The major attraction of the gateway is the calligraphy on the inner façade of the Buland Darwaza, which is quite rare. Notice the inscription taken from Jesus Christ, on the wall, which is equally revered by the Muslims and Christians.
Sunrise to sunset on all days
Just stone;s throw away from Agra is Fatehpur Sikri, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed under the rule of Emperor Akbar, the monumental splendor was built to commemorate Salim Chishti, the saint who predicted Akbar to have a son. This colossal palace comprises various significant structures including the largest gateway in the world, Buland Darwaza.
Rs 30 for Indians and Rs 300 for Foreigners
One of the wonders of the world, Taj Mahal is the most popular travel attraction in India. A sparkling marvel in white marble, the structure is symbolic of Emperor Shah Jahan’s eternal love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Containing tombs of Shah Jahan as well as Mumtaz Mahal, the premise has various mosques and gardens as well.
This UNESCO approved World Heritage site is opened for public on all days except Friday.
6 AM to 7:30 PM every day except Friday Charges:
Rs 1000 for foreigners and Rs 50 for Indians
Chini Ka Rauza
Chini Ka Rauza is the tomb of a great scholar and poet, Allama Afzal Khan Mullah, built in the year 1635. He also served as the prime minister of Shah Jahan. Being claimed as the first building to have been decorated by glazed tile work, the structure is an example of Indo-Persian architecture. Bright colour schemes, 8 curved recesses and four embellished chamber linked to the halls are the most striking attractions of this tomb.
Itimad-ud-daula's Tomb on the bank of River Yamuna was built by the queen Noor Jahan, the queen of Jahangir, for her parents. It is an architectural marvel located in Agra. It is situated at the middle of the well known and scenic Persian Garden. The tomb was superbly designed and elegantly finished in marvelous architectural styles.
This tomb is sometimes referred as baby Taj as it was the precursor of the architectural marvel the TajMahal. The tomb is fully laid by yellow marble with black and white marble inlay bringing the glorious days of the Mughal rule. This tomb is placed itself in picturesque surroundings of a beautiful garden. It is a main attraction in Agra.
Sunrise to sunset on all days Charges:
Rs 20 for Indians and Rs 150 for Foreigners
Jama Masjid in Fatehpur Sikri, is one of the largest mosque in the world. A blend of Islamic and Persian architecture, the mosque was built in the year 1571. The interiors of the mosques are delicately carved in water color and the pillars and the five crowning chatris on the dome have been made of inlaid mosaic stones and the golden embellishment on them, adds to their charm.
Maryamuzzamani palace in the Fatehpur Sikri complex is that area which was built by Emperor Akbar for his wifeMiriam Zamini. Built in a Gujarati style of architecture, it is built around a courtyard which highlights the row of Chattri as its main attraction. Built in Hindu style, one can find various themes on the walls that depict Hindu mythology.
Musamman Burj, situated inside the Agra Fort, is also referred as Saman Burj. Comprising of an octagonal shaped tower, the place is said to have been the home to Shah Jehan for the last seven years of his life as a captive under his son Aurangzeb. Made of delicate marble lattices, the structure overlooks the Taj Mahal, proffering some of the most beautiful looks. Shah Jehan is said to have died here while looking at the Taj Mahal.
Mehtab Bagh, located in the north of the Taj Mahal Complex is a garden structure situated across the Yamuna River. It is as wide as the Taj Mahal and the octagonal pool reflected a majestic view of the Taj Mahal. The pool initially had four sandstone towers, out of which only one remains.
Entrance to the park is Rs 100 for foreigners.
Moti Masjid epithet as Pearl Mosque is an imposing structure inside the Agra Fort. Sharing its architectural feature from Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, the mosque was built by Shah Jahan and is located just to the north of Diwan-e-Aam. Extensive marble facing against the red sandstone, the intricately carved aisles and arches are the main attraction of this mosque.
Palace of Jodha Bai
A striking structure in red sandstone, Panch Mahal is sequentially receding storey. The pillars that support the floors were once embellished with jaalis. Used for relaxation by the then Kings, the Panch Mahal is built in the architectural pattern adopted by the Buddhist temples. Built during a span of 10 years, the magnificent Mahal is a wonderful example of the lattice work for which the Mughals were so famous.
Sikandra Complex (Akbar's Tomb)
Sikandara Complex, better known as Akbar’s mausoleum is one of the most visited travel attraction in Agra. A Mughal architectural masterpiece, the tomb is built mainly in deep red sandstone and has been augmented with white marble. The construction of the tomb was started by Akbar himself in around 1600, and was completed by his son Jehangir in the year 1613.
The tomb is intricately carved and a black stone can be found on his tomb as well as the main gate.
Sunrise to sunset Charges:
Rs 20 for Indians and Rs 150 for Foreigners
An important structure located within the Agra Fort premise, the Angur Bagh as the name suggests was the ‘Garden of Grapes’ built by Shah Jehan in 1637. A well planned structure for growing grapes and flowers all the year round, it also served as the principle square of the living area and place of pleasant retreat for the royal women. A marble paved platform with a fountain and imperial bath houses with exquisite wall paintings, once adorned this place.
Aram Bagh (Ram / Dahra / Zahra Bagh)
Aram Bagh, the garden of relaxation, is the first Persian garden in India and it was laid out by Babar in 1558, the founder of the Mughal dynasty. The garden developed in the classical Persian style is located on the banks of the Yamuna River. Aram Bagh, also known as Ram Bagh or Mughal Garden, has been believed as the tomb of Babar before the tomb was shifted to Kabul.
It is recorded that Babar had chosen this garden for relaxing and keeping off from his royal duties and he loved to hear the music while enjoying the fragrance of the flowers in the plants and trees in the garden. The garden is located in an elevated plain with water flowing all around and there are marvelous fountains in the middle.
This beautiful five century old garden is located close to Chini Ka Rauza in Agra and is built in marvelous Persian style. There are three terraces for this marvelous garden with many canals dug through the landscape to provide water for the garden. The garden is highly attractive with many pathways, well maintained lawns, a sandstone pond, streams flowing from one terrace to another and the varieties of flowering plants.
Present day Aram Bagh is a weekend destination for the local families. The garden has two tamarind trees of 200 years old with many modern generation plants and flowers. One can enjoy the cool breeze from the Yamuna River by sitting on the raised pavilions in the garden. The Garden is open for public from morning to evening all days.
Birbal Bhavan, one of the main attractions in Fatehpur Sikri in Agra, is a small historical palace assumed to be built for Birbal. Raja Birbal was Great Emperor Akbar’s favorite courtier. It is believed that the palace was either built by Akbar for Birbal or Birbal himself built this palace for him.
It is an elegant structure depicting the great Mughal architectural style blended with Persian style of constructions. This compact palace is one of the eye catching monuments in Agra dating back to centuries. The palace is placed in a plain enclosing beautiful gardens and greenish lawns.
Diwan-i-Am, famed to be a hall located in the middle of Agra Fort, is built in 1628 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. This hall is meant for the public audience who assemble in Agra Fort. The architectural style of this pavilion is a perfect mix of Persian and Indian architectural styles.
The hall is supported by well constructed forty carved pillars. This is the place where the emperor listened to the complaints of the citizens. Diwan-i-Am is constructed using the red sandstones. This is a piece of marvelous architectural beauty in Agra. A renowned Masjid known as Nagina Masjid is placed nearby.
Diwan-i-Khas was built in 1635 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and was considered as a hall meant for entertaining foreign ambassadors and important dignitaries. This was the real power citadel during the Mughal rule. This elegant hall was located in the area enclosed by Agra Fort.
Diwan-i-Khas had the terrace with two thrones, one is meant for the emperor made out of White marble and the other is meant for the visitor made out of black slate. The hall is adorned with precious stones, silver and solid gold marvelously. This is really an eye catching, praise worthy monument in Agra.
Hauz-i-Jehandiri or Jahanghir’s Hauz is a monolithic tank with the shape of circular bowl. It is placed located in the premises of the elegant Jahangiri Mahal, which is enclosed in the majestic Agra Fort. This tank is built by the Mughal emperor Jahangir in 1611 and the tank has a size of 5 feet height and 8 meter diameter.
The tank was constructed such that it could be transported to anywhere. If has three steps outside as well as inside to get into the tank and also to come out from the tank. There are ten ornamental cartouches with inscriptions in Persian language on the exterior of the rim.
Mariyam's Tomb, an exquisite construction of 1611 AD, is located at Sikandra in the Christian Missionary Society compound about 13 km from Agra. The tomb is built for Mariyam, Mughal emperor Akbar’s beautiful wife from Goa. This tomb has been a great attraction due to its elegant carvings on the walls and also the marvelous beauty of red sandstone structure.
Mariam known widely as ‘Mariam Zamani’, the mother of Jahangir, was a most respectable queen in Mughal dynasty. It was Jehangir built this marvelous tomb for his mother after her death. The tomb is the real specimen of Mughal style of architecture with beauty embedded design. The tomb looks alike from front or back, which is a special feature of this tomb. This is praise worthy tomb to visit.
Nagina Masjid is an architectural beauty in Agra Fort. It is popularly known as the Jewel Mosque and is located nearby another eye catching Masjid known as Moti Masjid. This mosque is constructed with pure white attractive marble and encloses the prayer chamber exquisitely designed.
This beautiful structure is built by Mughal king Shah Jahan for the ladies of the Royal family. This private mosque has special features of three majestic domes and wonderful arches. A luxurious bazaar, known as Mina Bazar, was functioning down the road from where royal ladies could purchase items standing in the balcony of Nagina Masjid.
Shah Burj, also renowned as Hammam-i-Shahi, is placed in Agra Fort at the right of Diwan-e-Khas. This is a gorgeous palace is a perfect airy apartment and it is assumed that the King and Royal family members were using this as a summer retreat.
The design and construction of the Shah Burj is such that the air flows freely through the doorways and rooms. It is really a specimen of great craftsmanship, the rooms offer always the cool atmosphere although the days and nights.
This summer retreat is believed to be the place where many of the serious royal businesses were carried out.
Soami Bagh, also known as Dayal Bagh, is the headquarters of the Radhasoami religious sect. This sacred place blessed with the Dayal Bagh Temple is a prime religious attraction about 15 km away from Agra and it draws huge flock of devotees everyday all through the year. Set amidst picturesque landscape the temple is a great attraction to many tourists.
The temple stands majestically with a 110 ft height structure is believed to be constructed in 1861. This is an imposing structure built in Hindu architectural style and design. There is a belief that this temple is built as a competing structure to Taj Mahal.