Agra: The Taj City
Located beautifully upon the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, the city of Agra is a travel destination that requires little introduction. Home to the world renowned Taj Mahal, the city of Agra offers its visitors a plunge into the architectural brilliance of the Mughals, who ruled India for 331 years. Besides the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri are among the main tourist attractions. These three iconic monuments have also been designated as UNESCO World heritage Sites.
This travel guide to Agra will help you make the best of your visit to the Taj City.
Places to Go
- The Taj Mahal: The magnificent and wildly popular monument made out of pure white marble always tops itineraries of travellers visiting Agra. Built by the Mughal King Shah Jahan in 1653, the monument is the mausoleum of the king’s favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Standing upon the south bank of the Yamuna, it took 22 years for 20, 000 workers to complete this perfectly symmetrical building. Acknowledged as a masterpiece of symmetry, the Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Agra Fort: This 16th century monument is just another example of the architectural brilliance of the Mughals. Situated near the gardens of the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort of Agra, as it is nicknamed, is a mesmerizing fortress that encloses the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal besides other palaces, audience halls and a couple of mosques. The Agra Fort is also known as the place where Shah Jahan was held captive by his son, Aurangzeb and spent the final days of his life viewing the monument, which had been the final resting place of his beloved wife.
- Fatehpur Sikri: Built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar about 35 km from Agra, Fatehpur Sikri is a site of historical importance today. Akbar had once planned to make Fatehpur Sikri his headquarters, for which he had built a majestic fort within its premises. However, scarcity of water in the area compelled him to move to Agra Fort. Akbar also built the Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri to commemorate his triumph over Gujarat. On the central face of this ‘lofty door’ is inscribed a message from Jesus advising his followers not to consider this world as their permanent home, demonstrating the Mughal Emperor’s religious broadmindedness.
- I’timād-Ud-Daulah: Built by the Empress Nur Jahan for her father, this mausoleum is sometimes described as a jewel box with its walls of white marble encrusted with semi-precious stone decorations. Interred in the mausoleum are many of Nur Jahan’s relatives. The only asymmetrical elements of the entire complex are the tombs of her father and mother, which have been set side-by-side, a formation replicated in the Taj Mahal.
How to Get There?
Agra is about 230 kilometres away from the national capital, Delhi. Trains, buses and cars are easily available to take you from Delhi to Agra. If you plan to go by a bus, do take one that follows the Yamuna Expressway route to Agra. However, travelling on the Expressway on a bus at night is not advisable as the highway is prone to accidents with the night only elevating the chances of one.
Where to Stay?
The best places to stay during your Agra visit are at hotels located at Fatehabad road or those towards the eastern gate of the Taj Mahal.