The Land of culture and heritage Agra is the city of the inimitable TAJ MAHAL. Located on the banks of Yamuna River, in the North of Uttar Pradesh, the city is a wonderful place and a popular tourist stopover. Other than the Taj Mahal, the city also houses several historic prestigious places, monuments and buildings which upholds the tradition and culture that the city beholds. The Agra Fort, the Fatehpur Sikri, Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb, Mariam’s Tomb, Akbar’s Tomb in Sikandra, Jama Masjid, Chini Ka Rauza etc are to name a few.The city till date, persists with its laid-back style of living, treasured architecture, jewelry and handicrafts. Besides many celebration of different festivals, irrespective of caste distinction, takes place with all the zeal and excitement.
Here is a complete guide to the historical city of Agra , containing travel tip to the paramount architectural realms of the city, along with timings for visit, cost, conveyance, and accommodation details etc.
The Taj Mahal:
It’s on the bucket list of probably every tourist to India. The symbol of everlasting love, and one of the seven wonders of the world-Taj Mahal is a master piece of magnificance in itself. Its iconic beauty is truly stunning , living up to the hype. Completed in 1653, by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, it is a symbol of eternal love. The tomb is built on a red sandstone base, topped by a huge white marble terrace on which rests the dome flanked by four tapering minarets. The floors and walls have intriguing calligraphy and mosaic work adorned with precious stones.
One of the famous tourist places near Taj Mahal, India, is the Agra Fort. Situated near Taj Mahal, it was constructed by the Emperor Akbar in the year 1565. However, numerous additions were carried on in this fort, till the time of Shah Jahan. A beautiful example of Mughal architecture made up of entirely of red sandstone, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri is situated near Agra. Constructed by Mughal Emperor Akbar, it was completed in the year 1584. Located 35 Km from Agra, it is one-of-its-kind city and is counted amongst the most majestic cities of the Mughal Empire. It’s also one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites situated in Agra, other two being Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.
When to Go?
As the city experiences semi arid, tropical climate with very hot summers, therefore the best time to visit the city is in the months of October to March when the climate in Agra is pleasant and ideal for touring. However, if you can deal with the insane summer heat (the temperature hitting about upto 50C in May) the crowds tend to melt away.
Note*: (The Taj Mahal remains closed on Fridays for performing Namaz .)
How much it Would Cost?
The foremost way to dig into the history of the Taj Mahal, is through hiring a tour guide. Although it is highly insisted on seeing the guide’s Government of India official certification before hiering. A full-day tour, including the Taj Mahal and the other major sites of Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, should cost approximately no more than Rs. 2,000 (about $36) plus the cost of admission. Ticket prices vary, but foreign adults can expect to pay about $13.50 in total for daytime admission. Your Taj ticket also entitles you to a small discount at the other attractions, so keep it on hand and show it when paying to enter the others
How to Get There?
Delhi being the closest metro city to Agra, and also the capital of the country, a number of viable options are readily available for conveyance between the two cities. There are various tour operators that run day trips and overnight trips to Agra, but unless you enjoy being shepherded around, take the most viable options i.e the Shatabdi Express or the Taj Express. The train is the most reliable and fastest way to get to Agra. Trains leave in the early morning from Delhi, and arrives in Agra roughly two hours later, and returns back late in the evening. You can do all the major sites in Agra in one day, but consider an overnight trip as it allows a more relaxing pace.
What to Avoid!!
A 30-minute night-viewing ticket of the monument is available five days of every month. But unfortunately, most tour guides recommend giving this the ditch and instead booking a room at one of the several hotels with a view of the Taj Mahal all night long. This is a sure thing to be smartly avoided.
Where to Shoot?
Although a plethora of men can be found at the entrance gates, claiming to have 300-plus angles to shoot the monument , it is best advisable to disregard them unless you somehow donot have a camera. Instead, follow the lead of all the photographers; the best shot with you in the picture will likely be from one of the benches right at the entrance of the south gate. Or frame your shot through the trees in the small park area to the right as you look at the Taj. Sunset and sunrise are the most beautiful times of the day, when the natural colours cast a warm glow on the white marble and the building is stunning enough to do most of the work for you. A perfect reflection of the Taj Mahal can be also acquired in the pool if you set your camera on the ground and line it up with the base of the building. For a more unusual shot, you can also ask your tour guide to take you to the back of the Taj, on the far shore of the banks of Yamuna or the Moonlight garden for a superior shot.
When the entrance gates of the monument open at dawn, ignore the urge to stand in awe of the monument and instead run inside the cenotaph. You’ll hear “the sound of infinity” — the vibration created by air moving through the huge ventilated dome.