Wanderlist Discover: Agra, India
Agra is one of the key destinations in the Golden Triangle itinerary of North India, the other two destinations being Delhi and Jaipur. It is home to one of the most iconic monuments in the world, the magnificent Taj Mahal, a mausoleum built by an Emperor as a symbol of his love for his dead wife. But, fortunately for history and culture lovers, while the Taj Mahal may be the most memorable attraction in Agra, it is definitely not the only one. The legacy of the mighty Moghals, whose empire spanned a significant chunk of the Indian sub-continent, is still seen in many monuments and attractions of the chaotic city. As you walk along the small, dusty lanes of the city, you may feel that the city is a bit of a sensory overload at times, especially for first time travellers to India. Discover the true meaning of the term ‘riot of colours and textures’, when you step into the Kinari Bazaar, or the local wholesale market in Agra. You can buy spices, fashion accessories, cheap fashion clothing and lots more things in a single market. Make sure you have a guide with you, who can show you the way around and even act as an interpreter if needed.
A COUPLE OF ACTIVITIES YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS
The Taj Mahal: The iconic marble mausoleum built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal is undoubtedly the biggest reason tourists flock to Agra. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taj Mahal displays exquisite inlay work, carvings and calligraphy and is one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture in India. Get there early to beat the possible long queues for the tickets and to get inside the complex early, to feast your eyes on the magnificent views of the lush gardens and the Taj Mahal itself.
Agra Fort: Explore the red sandstone fort where the Emperor Shah Jahan spent his last few days, imprisoned by his son. Shah Jahan’s favourite spot in his gilded prison of the Agra Fort, was a balcony, from where he could see the Taj Mahal, the lavish memorial he had built for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. According to legends, Shah Jahan spent his final few years pining for his love, constantly gazing at the Taj Mahal, which lies on the other banks of the mighty Yamuna river.
Fatehpur Sikri : Located at a distance of about 40 kms from Agra is Fatehpur Sikri, built by Akbar the Great as the capital for his empire in the Indian sub-continent back in 1571. A brilliant city was built and then abruptly abandoned as capital in less than a decade. Today, the royal city lies empty but continues to attract tourists, thanks to its architectural significance. The most significant spots to view in the abandoned city are the Bulund Darwaza, Jama Masjid and the Panch Mahal.
Best Time To Go: November to February
The winter months of November to February are generally the best time to visit Agra, as you can avoid the scorching heat of the North Indian summers. The Taj Mahotsav (The Taj Festival) generally takes place in February, and is the perfect time to experience the incredible beauty of Agra’s rich arts, crafts and culture all in one location.
Where in the world:
Agra is located in North India, about 4 hours drive away from the Indian capital of New Delhi.
Fun Fact: The Taj Mahal is one of the most photographed monuments in the world, and Agra - with its vibrant colours and gritty textures - is a perfect destination for budding or serious photographers. If you are looking to click photos of the Taj Mahal, remember to make your way across the Yamuna river, to the Mahtab Gardens to capture an amazing view of the Taj, with the river in the foreground. It will make an excellent addition to the portfolio of any photographer.
Language: Hindi is the official language, but even a splattering of English is generally enough to convey your message to most of the locals.
Currency: Indian Rupee
How to Get Around: If you are planning a visit to Agra, it would be wise to book a private car from Delhi through a trusted local taxi operator. If you don’t bring your own private car from Delhi, you can get around Agra on 'auto rickshaws’ or three-wheelers quite easily. You can also hire a local taxi that will take you around all the local tourist spots in Agra. Walking around may be possible in some areas, but the crowds and the heat can sometimes be overwhelming, so its better to have a car and an experienced local tour guide with you at all times. If you are truly adventurous, you can even try a camel or an elephant ride in some parts of Agra.
The Discover Series by Wanderlist
Discover less explored destinations & places that have never been on your travel radar with our Discover Series. Every week we will share a beautiful underrated city you should add to your travel bucket list.