Agra is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India and home to many architectural marvels of the Mughal era including the Taj Mahal which puts India in special light. There are so many tourist places in Agra and each of them a unique beauty to look at and has its own story to tell. Here is a carefully curated list of best places to visit in Agra and make the most of your trip to Agra.
The Taj Mahal
Built by the then Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and a fine example of Mughal craftsmanship. Shah Jahan had it built to commemorate his wife Mumtaz who died giving birth. This UNESCO world heritage site is also revered as a symbol of love. The mausoleum contains her tomb and is built entirely in white marble incorporating designs from Persian and Mughal architectural styles. The tomb is decorated intricately and extensively primarily using paint. The interior chamber also has decorations of semi-precious and precious stones. Inside the complex you will find clean splendid gardens and fountains. The complex starts allowing entry beginning 6 AM and offers a great view of the sunrise with good photo opportunities. If you still haven’t made your bookings, you might consider making your bookings for the days around the full moon. These are the only five days when night entry is allowed to this gorgeous piece of architecture.
The expansive fort is located in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal and has walls spanning more than two kilometres. It is UNESCO world heritage site and it is said that it took eight years for construction. The entire fort is built of red sandstone and dates back to the 16th century. There are some areas, however, which were demolished and rebuilt in marble when Shah Jahan came to power, given his affinity for the white stone. Undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Agra, on location you will find beautiful mosques, the Diwan-e-Aam which was the hall of the audience, the Diwan-e-Khas which was rather restricted to a private audience. When Aurangzeb came to power, he built two stupendous mosques – the Moti Masjid and the Nagina Masjid. If you come back in the evening, you can witness an amazing light and sound show which attempts to take you on an abstract journey of the glorious past of the fort.
Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah
The Itmad-ud-Daulah tomb was the first piece of architecture to be built entirely in white marble instead of the red sandstone which was the popular choice of the times. The tomb was built to commemorate Mirza Ghiyas Baig who was the chief minister during the rule of Akbar and Jehangir’s father-in-law. Jehangir’s wife, Noor Jahan herself oversaw its construction. Several other of her relatives are also buried in this complex. Locals often refer to it as “Baby Taj.” It is built alongside the Yamuna river in a small garden. The cut out stone work used in the inlays makes it look all the more ravishing. With its exquisite carvings and monumental architecture, it is an ode to the elegant architectural style of the Mughals.
Built by the emperor Babur, the Mehtab Bagh is a garden complex located a short ferry ride from the Taj Mahal. The 25 acre complex is a Char-Bagh (four garden) and is located right opposite to the Taj Mahal and offers a spectacular view of it, which according to most tourists is even better than the view you get from the Taj Mahal complex itself. It is a peaceful spot and a great place to watch the sunset.
A timeless beauty, the Sikandra fort is an amalgam of Hindu and Muslim styles of architecture. Four high walls surround the fort complex which lies amidst beautiful sprawling gardens. These gardens are also built as per the Char Bagh plan and are portioned into four distinct spaces. There are plenty of causeways, fountains and water channels that run through the garden setting the atmosphere for a delightful walk. It is said that Akbar, personally had this fort designed. The fort is a reflection of his tastes and architectural style. His tomb also lies within the fort. A false tomb was constructed above ground level with four towers marking its corners while the real tomb lies in the basement. Incredibly impressive carvings adorn the faces of the tomb walls.
Being the erstwhile seat of the Mughal Empire and with the rich history dating back almost to the times of the Mahabharata, Agra is certainly the bucket list of every travel enthusiast. This is a list of the best places to visit in Agra so that you don’t miss out on the most important locations, however, there is much more to the place to explore if you have more time.