(The City of Taj)
Agra, also known as the city of Taj, is the gateway to the land of Lord Krishna, i.e., the Braj region. The river Yamuna flows by Agra. The exquisite art and breathtaking sights of the Mughal-era buildings attract several tourists to Agra, all throughout the year. Agra is a must-visit place for those who want to experience the rich culture and heritage of India.
Agra, a beautiful city located on the western banks of river Yamuna, was once the capital of Akbar the Great. At that time, it was known as Akbarabad. The city was ruled by the Marathas after the decline of the Mughal Empire and was renamed to Agra. In 1803, the British Raj took up the rein of the city. This one of the populous cities of Uttar Pradesh also has historic linkages with Runukta of Hinduism and Shauripur, of 1000 BC.
PLACES TO VISIT:
- Taj Mahal – This marble monument is considered as the epitome of love. It was built by the Mughal King Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Located on the south bank of the Yamuna River, Taj Mahal is one of the three World Heritage Sites in Agra. It is also one of the New Seven Wonders of the world. The interiors of Taj Mahal are adorned with semi-precious stones and fine inlay work.
- Agra Fort – Agra Fort epitomizes the Mughal architecture and is another World Heritage Sites in Agra. It was commissioned in 1565 by Akbar the Great. It is crescent-shaped and spreads over 94 acres. The fort is popular for its majestic gates – Amar Singh Gate, Elephant Gate, Lahore Gate, and the Delhi Gate. It houses Anguri Bagh, Moti Masjid, and Shah Burj.
- Fatehpur Sikri – This World Heritage Site is 35 kms from Agra and was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. To commemorate his victory over Gujarat, Akbar built 53.63 meters high Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri. Other worth seeing places here are – Jama Mosque, Jodha Bai’s Palace, Tomb of Salim Chishti, etc.
- I’timad-Ud-Daulah – I’timad-Ud-Daulah, also known as the Baby Taj or Jewel Box, was built by the Empress Nur Jahan for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg. It is located on the left bank of the Yamuna River. The marble walls of the monument are decorated with semi-precious stones. It looks like a smaller version of the Taj Mahal.
- Ram Bagh – Ram Bagh, the oldest Mughal garden in India, is situated on the bank of the River Yamuna. It was built in 1528 by the Emperor Babar. Originally named as Aaram Bagh, the Ram Bagh has been built in a Persian style. Today, it has undergone heavy restoration, but still is a place of great interest to history buffs.
- Tomb of Akbar the Great – Spread over 119 acres, Akbar’s Tomb is located in Sikandra, a suburb of Agra. It is built up of red sandstone and is a significant Mughal architectural masterpiece. The beauty of this historical monument is difficult to express in words.
- Mehtab Bagh – This garden was built by the Emperor Babar on the banks of River Yamuna. Mehtab Bagh is perfectly aligned with the gardens of the Taj Mahal. A large pond on the outer edges of the Bagh reflects the image of the Taj. Fruit trees, fountains, beautiful pools, breezy canopies, broad walkways grab the attention of the shutterbugs.
- Chini ka Rauza – This tomb belongs to Afzal Khan, a minister in the court of Shah Jahan and a Persian poet. This is the first Indian building to be embellished with glazed tile work. The tiles are in different hues like green, yellow, orange, and turquoise. It is built in Indo-Persian architecture and has inscriptions from the Quran inside it.
- Khas Mahal – Khas Mahal was built by Shah Jahan for his daughters Jahanara and Rashnara. The interiors of the palace are decorated with floral designs, mural paintings, and gold work. This palace features a large central hall, open courtyards, marble domes, fountains, and beautiful tanks . The pavilions were built using red sandstone.
- Mariam’s Tomb – Mariam’s Tomb is the final resting place of Jahangir’s mother and Akbar’s wife. It is located a kilometer north of as suburb of Agra (Sikandra). This sandstone structure has intricate carvings on its outer walls. The tomb is one of the best examples of combination of the Hindu and Islamic architecture. A grid of crisscrossing corridors segments the interiors of the tomb.
- Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary – Located 20 kms from Agra, the Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary was declared as the National Bird Sanctuary in 1991. It houses a beautiful man-made lake, the Keetham Lake. Over 106 species of migratory birds visit Sur Sarovar every year. It is the habitat for pintail, common teal, darter, purple heron, little gerb, etc.
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS:
- Taj Mahotsav – This 10-day festival is organized at Shilpgram, Agra, every year. This festival reflects the rich culture, crafts, and arts of India. Artisans from different states of the country participate in the Taj Mahotsav, to portray their works. Fun Fair, which is the part of this festival, is held for children and teenagers. They can enjoy joy rides and games in the fair.
- Taj Literature Festival – Taj Literature Festival provides a platform to bring to the surface the concealed talents of literary buffs, writers, editors, and publishers. It was held for the first time at Agra in February 2013. Many renowned literary figures take part in the festival and discuss on topics like cricket, politics, etc.
- Kailash Fair – Celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva, Kailash Fair is celebrated in the months of August and September, every year. During the fair, many shops are set up and a lot of activities are organized.
- Agra is popular for its superb marble products. So, when in Agra, don’t forget to buy marble gifts and souvenirs such as jewelry boxes, flower vases, coasters, etc. You can visit Sadar Bazaar for shopping.
- Agra is also famous for leather products. Buy leather jackets, briefcases, bags, and shoes..
- Agra exports beautiful rugs and carpets to countries around the world. Buy beautifully woven rugs and carpets for your house.
- Watch Mohabbat-the-Taj: The Saga of Love, a musical drama depicting the chronicle of love. This play is organized every day at Kalakriti Convention Centre at 6:30 pm.
- Try local dishes – Petha and Daal Moth.
- Witness the grand history of the city by visiting Agra Fort, Taj Mahal, Ram Bagh, Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Mariam’s Tomb, Khas Mahal, etc.
- Stroll through the Taj Nature Walk (a large forested area located 500 meters away from the east gate of the Taj Mahal) and explore a wide variety of flora and fauna.
BEST TIME TO VISIT:-
Agra features a semiarid climate. The summers are hot and dry while the winters are mild. The monsoons are substantial and not as heavy as in other parts of India. Although, the city welcomes the tourists throughout the year, the best time to visit Agra is between November to March. The weather during this time of the year is pleasant. Carry warm clothes if you are planning to visit during these months.
HOW TO REACH:-
- By Air – Agra has an airport – Kheria Airport. It is 13 kms from Taj Mahal.
- By Rail – Agra is connected to all major cities of India via railways. The railway stations in Agra are- Yamuna Bridge, Idgah, Raja ki Mandi, Agra City, Agra Cantt., and Agra Fort.
- By Road – Agra is linked with many cities like Jaipur, Bharatpur, New Delhi, etc., via road. Regular bus services of UPSRTC and other state bus services are available.