Home to one of the 7 wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal, Agra is a sneak peek into the architectural history with other structures such as Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri and hence makes for a must visit for anyone living in or visiting India.
When you talk about Agra, one thing has to stand out - yes, the Taj Mahal. Agra is host to the only one of the Seven Wonders of the World in India, Taj Mahal, which makes the whole country proud. But that's not the only thing Agra has to boast of. Agra has three UNESCO World Heritage sites and Taj Mahal features in the 50 most popular tourist destinations in the world. History, architecture, romance all together create the magic of Agra which is almost the lifeline of Indian tourism. History fanatics as well as architecture buffs can have a ball here with the sheer expanse of the Mughal art and culture on display. Apart from its monuments, the city also has some exciting stuff for foodies - including the famous Agra ka Petha and amazing chaat and Lassi.
If you are a history buff like my mom or an architecture enthusiast like me, then you will love Agra in all its grandeur and glory! I went there for a family friend’s destination wedding and did a full tour of Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, and the Agra Fort. Taj Mahal is rightly one of the seven wonders as apart from its beautiful architecture, it has geometric, detailed designs. Fatehpur Sikri, an old Mughal capital consisting of the Buland Darwaza, is a must visit. I made sure to buy a variety of ‘pethas’ from Panchhi Petha and bought a few leather shoes and bags straight from the factories at very low prices.
Although Agra is famous for the Taj Mahal, but Agra Fort mesmerised me more, not because of the architecture but because of the way our guide explained things that all of what we had read in our history books seemed to come alive! We were shown the Diwan-i-aam, Diwan-i-khaas, the place where Shahjahan was kept captive by Aurangzeb, Shish Mahal, Roshanara Mahal, Jahanara Mahal etc. Despite being summer, the weather was cloudy to our comfort. We spent three hours here, but it seemed to be too less for me! One can try the famous "Agra ka Petha" from the local sweet shops nearby.
A lot of things are unique to the Taj Mahal and a lot of them unmatched by other monuments around the world. But the symmetry of the building, especially when you look at it from a distance at dead-center, is quite spellbinding. The towering minars and the white grandeur of the tomb is very enchanting. The Taj Mahal gives you a certain feeling and its the feeling you that keeps wanting you to go back.
The epicenter of Indian culture. Well connected by rail, road, and air. Can be visited almost throughout the year.
Congested in peak seasons, and quite polluted. Might be risky for respiratory patients. Unofficial guides and touts can get enraging. Travel scams are very common.
Apart from the evergreen Taj Mahal, this is ideal for all history zealots, whether from archaeology, or culture, or even literature. Also, ideal for the foodies, owing to the vibrant cuisine of the city.
Agra is one of the most significant cities in the history of India (Mostly during the Mughal Period. Situated on the banks of the river Yamuna, this beautiful city gained public interest when Sikander Lodhi decided to make Agra the capital city. It remained the capital city even during the reign of Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. It was during the Mughal Period when Agra gained some of the incredible monuments like the Taj Mahal, Buland Darwaza and the Agra Fort. Agra’s influence declined when Mughal’s influence declined. By this time, the British had attained significant power. Agra came under the British control in the 1800’s. With the capital city being changed to Capital city, Agra lost the powerful significance it held during the Mughal Period. After the independence, Agra developed into an industrial city and a popular tourist destination. Some of the famous monuments were also listed under UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
Read more about History of Agra
Who doesn't know about the 'Taj Nagri'? The city, known first in historical sources as Agrevana, or 'The Border of the Forest', is famous for the epitome of love, and one of the 'Seven Wonders of the World' i.e. Taj Mahal. The charm of the medieval architecture, which can be noticed even from the top of the Agra Fort, makes it the ultimate destination for travel enthusiasts the world over. Apart from Taj Mahal, this city is also popular for Itimad Ud Daulah's tomb, the famous Agra Fort, and the capital city of Akbar the Great, i.e. Fatehpur Sikri. Apart from being a tourist hotspot, Agra is also famous for its art and crafts industry, which includes the royal craft Pietra Dura, marble inlay and carpets.
Day 1 - Reach Agra by early morning and check into your hotel. Then, head to Fatehpur Sikri, the capital the capital of Akbar the Great during the 16th century. Do remember to visit the tomb of Itimad on your way back. In the evening, go to the famous Agra Chaat House and get a taste of the variety of street foods Agra is known for. Do not forget to taste the lip-smacking pethas.
Day 2 - Begin your second day early. Have a hearty breakfast and head towards the famous Taj Mahal. Try to reach Taj Mahal early as the entry becomes difficult as the day proceeds due to the heavy crowd. In the evening, go to the shops that bear the exquisite designs of the craft of Pietra Dura.
Day 3 - On the third day, visit the Agra Fort. It is 20 minutes away from the Taj Mahal. Next, you can visit the Kalakriti and experience the grand cultural Centre with beautiful art exhibits. Later on in the evening, you can go shopping at the Sadar Bazaar.
Whether you love the spicy chaats or you have a sweet tooth, Agra never ceases to fascinate. Petha, a soft candy made from ash gourd is almost synonymous with Agra's cuisine and is a speciality which you just cannot miss. There are various new flavours and innovative presentations of this ever popular sweet dish from Agra. Panchi petha is the most popular shop in Agra, and there are so many of these that you won't even have to think where to get it from.
Another equally delicious item is the Chaat here. Agra has varieties of Chaat available including Aloo Tikki, Pani Puri, Papri Chaat, Samosa, Kachori etc all over the city. Another popular snack here is Dalmoth, which is a spicy lentil mix. The cuisine of the town also offers countless North-Indian and Punjabi relishes with a distinct influence of Mughlai cuisine.
Read more about Street Food of Agra
Agra is 240 KM from Delhi via the Yamuna Expressway. The drive takes around 3 hours to complete.