Places to Visit in Agra
Taj Mahal, as a major tourist attraction of Agra, needs little introduction. Much before becoming star jewel on India’s crown of attractions, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and a UNESCO-protected architectural landmark, the Taj Mahal was a symbol of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s love for his famously beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal. It was the result of a deathbed promise made by the Emperor to his wife.
A monumental ode to love in marble, the ethereally white Taj Mahal is located amidst beautifully landscaped grounds with water features, lush greenery and exquisite red stone architecture. The main structure, topped by a dome and flanked by marble pillars crowned with bulbous domes, is designed to be perfectly symmetrical. Fascinating calligraphies with holy Quran’s verses as well as semi-precious stones inlaid into the marble in beautiful patterns called pietra dura adorn the floors and walls.
Centuries have passed since the mausoleum took shape, but it continues to be a symbol of love and a tall inspiration for lovers around the world.
List of Places to Visit in Agra
A visit to the Taj Mahal:
Sunsets and Sunrises are some of the best times to visit the Taj Mahal, when the white marble structure stands out in a breathtaking view against a backdrop of the crimson-streaked sky.
The full moon brings its own magic and a visit to the Taj Mahal by moonlight is a dream for many lovers and visitors. This dream is now lived by several visitors. You can live it too. Here are the expected dates for the full moon visits to the Taj Mahal.
|FULL MOON (POORNIMA IN NIGHT) YEAR-2013 TO 2020|
The Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays and during the month of Ramadan, due to the presence of a mosque within the mausoleum complex. Local Muslims use it as a site for offering prayers.
A fort with origins dating back to the 11th Century, occupied and enhanced by some of the most powerful dynasties in Indian History including the Lodi Dynasty and the Mughal Emperors, the Agra Fort has a powerful history. This fort has occupied Agra for much longer than any other architectural landmark in the city.
The present structure, however, owes its existence to Emperor Akbar, who rebuilt the old fort with red sandstone quarried from Rajasthan, after winning it back from the Hindu king Hem Chandra Vikramaditya in the 16th Century. His successors continued to build and expand the fortress complex with palaces and sanctuaries in red sandstone and marble.
Agra Fort is now designated a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site for its veritable treasure of architectural landmarks. The most famous of these structures include the Moti Masjid, Diwane-e-aam (Hall of Public Audience), Diwan-e-Khas (Hall of Private Audience), Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) and Musanman Burj.
The magnificent palace fortress of Akbar went on to become a prison and place of death for the Emperor Shah Jahan, who was imprisoned here by his own son.
Visitors to the Agra Fort can marvel at the many structures and view the Taj Mahal from the very chambers (Musanman Burj) where Emperor Shah Jahan spent his last days as a prisoner looking at the mausoleum he built for his wife.
Located just 37 kilometres from Agra, Fatehpur Sikri is a major excursion site that holidaymakers visiting Agra must include to their itinerary. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, just like the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri is yet another example of exemplary Mughal Architecture and is in fact, one of the best preserved Mughal architectural landmarks in India.
Perhaps this is because the city of Fatehpur Sikri was abandoned not long after it was created due to lack of water sources and related issues. The site was rediscovered only in 1892. Even today, the township is little more than a ghost city.
According to established historical sources, Emperor Akbar built the city of Fatehpur Sikri as his capital in honour of the Saint Shaikh Salim Chishti, after the saint’s prediction of the birth of Akbar’s son Jahangir came true. The city, as seen today, includes a sprawling complex of royal palaces, imperial buildings, places of worship and other ordinary buildings.
Of particular note, is the Gateway – Buland Darwaza, Hall of Public Audience – Diwan-e-Aam, the Hall of Private Audience – the Diwan-e-khaas, the Imperial Palace – Daulat Khana, Ranch Mahal, the pavilion of Anup Talao, the palaces of Jodha Bai and Birbal and the caravanserai. The complex also houses the Tomb of Shaikh Salim and a great mosque that could accommodate some 10,000 devotees.
The Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri are the most visited attractions in Agra and feature in the itinerary of just about every tourist visiting India. However, they are not the only attractions of Agra. The ones listed below might not be as well known but for the seasoned traveller, these attractions are THE places to visit for an intrinsic experience of Agra and its many treasures.
Follow the footsteps of Emperor Shah Jahan and revel in the magnificent views of the Taj Mahal in the privacy of the Mehtab Bagh. A moonlight pleasure garden, initially built by Emperor Babur and later glorified by Emperor Shah Jahan as the ideal place to enjoy views of the Taj Mahal, the Mehtab Bagh was revived after degradation and constant neglect.
Now, it is as beautiful as the Emperors designed them to be. Only seasoned visitors, who have stumbled into the garden by accident, know that the Mehtab Garden is right opposite the Taj Mahal and allows you to revel in its beauty unhindered by the crowds. Now, you know it too.
Itimad-ud-Daulah or Baby Taj, widely believed to be the inspiration behind the Taj Mahal, is yet another attraction of Agra that is not as popular as the Taj Mahal, but is nonetheless, a magnificent place to visit in Agra. It is the first tomb in India to be constructed entirely in marble and is a creation of art, with exquisite workmanship as evident from the jewels encrusted marble walls and intricate latticed windows.
It is a mausoleum, just like the Taj Mahal, and houses the tomb of Mir Ghiyas Beg, the Chief Minister in the court of Emperor Jahangir and more importantly, his father-in-law (he was the father of Nur Jahan and grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal).
Commissioned by Nur Jahan, the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah houses the tombs of most of Nur Jahan’s relatives, including her mother, who is interred right alongside her husband – just like in the Taj Mahal, where Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are buried side-by-side. The complex too is like the Taj Mahal with a white marble structure on a white marble platform, located right in the middle of a beautifully landscaped garden set in a perfect symmetry.
If the story of Emperor Akbar and his accomplishments has fascinated you, then you might wish to visit his Tomb as well. Nestled in a large sprawling complex in Sikandra, about 10 km away from Agra, the Tomb of Emperor Akbar offers a welcome getaway away from the crowds of the Taj.
Serenity is aplenty in the 48-hectare grounds. The Gateway of Magnificence or the Buland Darwaza greets you with a splendid archway, exquisitely marble and red-sandstone inlaid panels on the sides and four marble minarets.
Once you enter, a pathway through the lush gardens leads you to the actual tomb structure, a magnificent red sandstone structure with four storeys built to resemble a truncated pyramid. Initially commissioned by Emperor Akbar himself, the construction of the tomb was completed under the supervision of Emperor Jahangir, Akbar’s son, who added the top-most marble structure and semi-precious jewels inlaid in geometric patterns as the final touches to the tomb.
Within the tomb’s sanctity, lies the cenotaph of Emperor Akbar. Two of his daughters are also interred here. Just a kilometre beyond is the Tomb of Miriam, Emperor Akbar’s wife and the mother of Emperor Jahangir.
Guru ka Tal
A Gurudwara of great significance, Guru Ka Taal or Gurudwara Shri Guru ka Taal Sahib offers a peaceful retreat while marking the spot where Emperor Aurangzeb arrested Guru Teg Bahadur, the Ninth Sikh Guru under false implications. The Guru was tortured for 3 months before finally being beheaded in Delhi.
Located on the Delhi-Agra road, the Gurudwara Shri Guru ka Taal Sahib is an important pilgrimage spot for Sikhs.