It is sheer charisma of the Taj Mahal that has been and will continue to draw tourists from all over India and the world. But the city has a lot more to offer to its tourists besides the fascinating beauty of the Taj. Read along to explore and know a lot more about Agra city.
Lying on the banks of river Yamuna, Agra, also known as the city of Palaces is one of the most populated towns of north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is at a distance of 378 km from the state capital Lucknow and only 206 km from national capital Delhi. Agra was established by Raja Badal Singh, a Rajput King in the year 1475. The city which used to be the capital of Lodhis and Mughals also has its reference in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Much of the credit of Agra’s culture, art and commerce goes to the Mughal dynasty.
Agra is one of the most favorite tourist destinations of Indians. Infact, people of north India find this city as an amazing weekend stopover.
Major Attractions in Agra
- Taj Mahal – One of the ‘Eight Wonders of the World’, Taj Mahal is truly and undoubtedly the most prized historical monument of India. Built by Shah Jahan, one of the great Mughal Emperors in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, Taj Mahal is truly the best epitome of love and beauty. Built up on the banks of Yamuna River amidst the landscaped gardens, it is the first destination of tourists going to Agra.
- Agra Fort – Also known as the Red Fort, it was commissioned by Akbar, the great Mughal Emperor in 1565. The fort made of red sandstone was later converted into a palace by Shah Jahan. Besides Taj Mahal, the Red Fort of Agra is also one of the World Heritage Sites. The prominent buildings of the fort include Moti Masjid, Diwan-e-Khas and Diwan-e-Aam, Sheesh Mahal, Jahangir’s Palace, Musamman Burj and Khas Mahal.
- Fatehpur Sikri – A impeccable amalgamation of Indian, Persian and Islamic architecture. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1570 as a tribute to Sufi Saint Fatehpur Sikri. It is built up using red sandstone and important buildings it includes are Buland Darwaza, Birbal’s House, Panch Mahal and Jama Masjid. This city was also declared as a World Heritage Site in 1986.
- Akbar’s Tomb Sikandara – Sikandara Tomb, situated at a distance of 13 km from Agra Fort is the last resting place of Akbar. Set amidst lavish greens, the red ochre-sandstone tomb has been carved magnificently and truly reflects the complete personality of ‘Akbar the Great’.
- Itimad-Ud-Daulah – Also known as the ‘Baby Taj’, the tomb of Itimad-Ud-Daulah was built by Mughal Queen Nur-Jahan dedicating it to her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg who was also the chief minister of Emperor Jahangir. The criss-cross watercourses, walkaways and grand gardens further enhance the beauty of this tomb.
Other important places in and around Agra
- Mankameshwar Temple
- Indrabhan Girls Inter College
- Guru Ka Taal Gurudwara
- Ram Bagh
- Jama Masjid
- Mariam’s Tomb
- Keetham Lake
- Paliwal Park
Besides the fascinating buildings of Mughal Era, there are lots of buzzing markets also in Agra where you can enjoy shopping, strolling and street food or eating at restaurants. People coming from distant parts of India and the world also relish a visit to Mathura, the Land of Lord Krishna which is at a distance of 57 km from Mathura.
Festivals & Fairs
Taj Mahostav is celebrated every year between 18th and 27th February in Shilpgram, Agra. The festival gives a new message to the world every year. The theme of the festival is Mughal Era. Artisans from the whole country bring their pieces of artwork here. Other major attractions of the festival are Indian cuisine, singing and dancing performances and camel and elephant rides for children.
The Kalilash fair held in Kalilash temple, 12 km from Agra. This festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his appearance in the form of Shiva Linga.
Another popular festival of Agra is the Ram Bharat festival which is a part of the Ramlila staged during the Navratras in the month of October/November.
Best Time to visit
Tourists do not generally wait for a particular season to plan their trip to Agra and it has become more of an all the year round destination. But Agra has a semi arid tropical climate with summers that are extremely hot. So if you want to make the most out of your visit to the Land of Palaces, then the ideal time to come here is between the months of October and March when the climate here is most pleasant.
How to reach
Air – Agra city has its own airport known as the Kheria Airport to and from where all domestic airlines fly at frequent intervals. The nearest International Airport is the Delhi airport at a distance of approximately 200 km.
Rail – Agra railway station is also well connected with other towns and cities of India.
Road – Agra city is also linked with major towns and cities of rest of the country by way of National Highways 2, 3 and 11. Private and State transport buses also ply from most cities of north India to Agra. Transport facility within the city is also decent with lots of private and state transport buses, taxis and rickshwas etc.