The historic city of Agra, once the capital city of Mughal India, has various glitters at its disposal. Situated on the banks of the Yamuna river, Agra has been important since the Mahabharata era, where its reference can be found as the name Agravana. But it was during the Mughal era that Agra gained its full glory.
Home to the very beautiful and one of the world’s seven wonders, the Taj Mahal, Agra comes under the prominent tourist city of India. Things to do in Agra include the sightseeing monuments such as the majestic Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and Jama Masjid, experiencing the delicacies of Agra and its street food, including chats and pethas.
1. Places to visit
Taj Mahal was built during the Mughal empire by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz mahal. With an enormous area of 17 hectares, stretching across the southern banks of the Yamuna river, the Taj Mahal is situated in the eastern part of the city.
Mumtaz Mahal was the wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and the inspiration behind the construction of the Taj mahal. For a brief time after her death, she was buried in Burhanpur. Then after some time, her body was transferred to Agra. The construction of the Taj Mahal began over the site of her burial.
The iconic Taj Mahal is an exquisite example of Mughal architecture and is signified by a perfect blend of Indian, Persian, and Islamic styles. The principal elements of the Taj Mahal complex include the main gateway, mosque, garden, jawab, and mausoleum.
The mausoleum is made of white marble reflecting various moonlight hues. Four other lesser domes surround the central dome. The interior is decorated with precious stones and crystals. Therein lays the fake tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz mahal. Underneath these fake tombs lies their true sarcophagi.
The twin mosque buildings are symmetrically aligned on either side of the mausoleum and are built of red sandstone that contrasts with the mausoleum in terms of color and texture. The garden is paved according to classical Mughal gardens with walking paths, fountains, and ornamental trees.
The taj mahal complex also accommodates various monuments like the taj museum. This museum contains various elements of the Mughal rulers. Calligraphic arts, paintings, writings, drawings, and ornaments are some of the belongings amongst others that are preserved here.
According to certain rumors, the emperor initially intended to build another mausoleum on the other bank of the river Yamuna to house his remains. But in 1658, he was deposed by his son Aurangzeb and the structure remained in the historical books.
Taj Mahal is visited by lakhs of tourists from around the globe annually and was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983.
30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset; closed on Fridays.
Another monument built during the Mughal era, the Agra fort, was built by the Mughal emperor Akbar. Built during invasions and fortifications, the Agra fort was used as a military base and residential area. It displays some of the true essences of Persian and Islamic architectural marvels. It is also situated on the right banks of the Yamuna river and is connected to the Taj mahal. Later, many structures and renovations were done by Mughal successors like Jahangir.
Diwan-i-Khas, to host important guests. Some of the attractions in this 38 hectares complex include the Jahangir Mahal, which was built for Akbar’s son Jahangir as his private place. Moti Masjid, made by Shah Jahan, is a tranquil structure made of white marble.
The Peacock throne was once housed here before Aurangzeb took it to Delhi. To listen to public proceedings by the emperor, Diwan-i-Aam was constructed. The walls of Khas Mahal were decorated with precious stones as it was the emperor’s private place.
One of the many reasons behind the Agra fort being famous is it was used as a prison for Shah Jahan. Agra fort claimed the designation as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983.
Sunrise to sunset.
In the evenings, make sure to participate in the light and sound show which brings you on the journey of the monument’s past and glory with the help of brilliant visuals and sound show. The ambience and the experience the act provides are reasons to visit Agra fort.
Fatehpuri Sikri is a historic city and a tourist location 40 km from Agra. It is a city founded during the Mughal dynasty by Mughal emperor Akbar and is predominantly made of red sandstone. It was also the capital of the Mughal kingdom during the rule of Akbar for 15 years.
Fatehpur Sikri is a unique blend of Mughal architecture and religious beliefs. It was built to honour Sheikh Salim Chisti. Some of the places to visit during your stay at this heritage site are:
Panch mahal– As the name suggests, it is a five-storeyed building built by Akbar and was used for entertainment and relaxation. Its structure resembles a Buddhist temple.
Tomb of Salim Chisti– It exalts the burial place of Salim Chisti and is designated as one of the finest examples of Persian architecture. The door to the main chamber is inscribed with verses from Quran.
Jodha Bai’s Palace– The palace was used as a residence for the various queens of Akbar and other members of his harem. It provides a flawless amalgamation of Rajput and Mughal architecture. With red sandstone and turquoise bricks, the palace appears as royal as it could ever be.
Other places to visit in Fatehpur Sikri include Birbal Bhavan, Ibadat Khana, Diwan-I-Khas, Diwan-I-Aam, and Buland Darwaza.
This surreal and beautiful architecture is one of the famous monuments of Agra. Located opposite the Agra fort, Jama Masjid was built by Shah Jahan and was dedicated to his daughter, Jahanara Begum. Jama Masjid is one of the largest mosques in India, and its enormous size makes it visible from a distance.
Jama Masjid was constructed using red sandstone and white marble. Monasteries surround its large courtyard on the three sides, and the courtyard’s beauty is enhanced using fountains and kiosks. A prayer room is on the western part of the structure and can house hundreds of believers at a given time.
A central dome, a key feature in Islamic architecture, can also be found here. Inverted lotus and Kalash finials made of white marble are fitted on the dome to enhance its beauty. Several Persian inscriptions and texts are inscribed on the walls of the mosque.
Best time to visit
Agra is situated in the northern part of the country and experiences both the seasons: summers and winters, to its extreme. Jama Masjid can be visited during the summers if you are placid under a hot climate and chilly sun. However, winters are usually accompanied by a cool breeze and an average temperature, making your sightseeing experience much better.
Due to Jama masjid being a religious place, it doesn’t require an entry fee and is open to all.
Sikandra is situated in the suburbs of Agra and is famous for Akbar’s tomb. At a certain distance, the tomb of one of his favourite wives, Mariam-Uz-Zamani, can also be found.
Sikandra was chosen by Akbar himself as his final resting place, but he was not able to finish the construction during his lifetime and was later finished by his son, Jahangir. It symbolizes a perfect blend of Hindu and Islamic religions and architectures. The tomb is surrounded by char bagh, enhancing the structure’s beauty.
Kalakriti dance drama show
Kalakriti dance drama show is a theatre performance showcasing the tale of romance and glory of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. The name of the act is Mohabbat The Taj.
The main and the most overwhelming part of the act is its climax. The world’s largest replica of the Taj mahal unfolds itself on a platform in the end. The replica has been made of pure Makrana marble and is adorned with the finest details. The times of the show are after 6:00 pm.
2. Roam Bazars of Agra
Agra is famous for its leather products and jewellery items. When visiting Agra, one must visit its bazaars to know the real hues of it.
After a day of visiting monuments and tourist spots, Sadar Bazar is your go-to place for a shopping spree. Almost all the heritage buildings are open only till the sunset. An evening walk through the roads of Agra’s most famous Sadar bazaar will lighten your mood.
It is situated in the heart of the city, near the Agra Cantt railway station, near the Taj Mahal and Agra fort. The bazaar suits all pockets and is famous for handlooms, leather products, handicraft items, and accessories.
Tiny impressions of the Taj Mahal and Agra fort can be purchased from the street shops of the bazaar.
One of the must-visit places is the ‘Chat wali Gali’, and one should try the chats of this place. Also, among the things to do in Agra, visiting the petha shops is a must.
Kinari Bazar is one of the famous bazaars of Agra among tourists and is a heaven for people who are experienced in bargaining. Situated near the Jama Masjid, it consists of several galis combined, making an overcrowded maze but of vibrant shops. It is famous for its jewellery and bridal accessories.
It serves one of the largest collections of cheap and good imitation jewellery, handcrafts, watches, and decorable items. Even if you are not willing to shop, just taking a stroll around will be a memorable experience.
Subhash Bazar is one of the prominent bazaars of Agra, famous for silk sarees. It is located near the Jama masjid, and besides silk sarees and dresses, Subhash bazaar specializes in other accessories.
Due to being famous among locals, there can be a lot of foot traffic, but the sopping experience is terrific. The Bazar usually opens around 10:00 am and is open till sunset but is closed on Tuesdays.
3. Explore Delicacies of Agra
Agra is a captivating blend of architecture, history, and street foods. It has some of the best delicacies and specializes in various dishes from various parts of India. Agra’s street foods offer a quirky mix of Mughal and Indian essence. From chats to kachoris and pethas to dal moth, Agra has everything at its disposal.
Panchi Petha, one of the leading brands in the petha trade, has its headquarters in Agra. It is reputed in the field of pethas and namkeens.
Chat wali Gali in Sadar bazaar is among the places to stop by when visiting Agra. Agra chat house is the place to visit to experience awesome chat items and other food items.
Bidhai- Jalebi is the staple breakfast when in Agra. You can find it at every other street food shop during breakfast timings.
Other specializations of Agra are pedas, Mewa Baati, Gulab laddoo, and Imarti.
4. Visit Temples of Agra
One of the oldest sites in Agra, Mankameshwar, is in Rawatpura. The temple is devoted to Lord Shiva. The shiv linga installed is rumoured to trace back to the Dvapura Yug, and Lord Shiva himself discovered and installed the Shiva linga in its dedicated place.
The Shiva Linga is completely covered in silver. The temple consists of a sanctum sanctorum which houses several deities and their idols.
The temple is located near Sikandra, on the banks of river Yamuna. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed that the temple was established by Maharishi Jamadagni and his son Parshuram and was worshipped by both.
During the religious festival of Shivaratri, zillions of devotees arrive at the temple and worship their god, Shiva.
5. Other Activities
Dolphin- The Water World
The Dolphin-Water World attracts hundreds of people to enjoy the water. The water park is extended across 14 acres and has been a crowd-puller since its establishment.
Packed with rides and pools, Dolphin is your go-to place on a hot sunny day to enjoy with your friends and family. Along with the rides, the water park also consists of wave pools. So, if you want to play in the pool, you can enjoy it too.
Besides a water park, The Dolphin also includes an amusement park. Thus, if you have had enough of the water rides, which I don’t expect it to be, you still have much to enjoy. For the kids, the Dolphin express will be a memorable experience.
The times of the park are 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
Taj Mahotsav is one of the prominent and awaited carnivals of Agra. It is celebrated from 20th to 29th March every year, near the eastern gate of the mighty Taj Mahal.
This 10-day-long festival provides a platform to showcase various vibrant hues, crafts, and cultures of Incredible India. The carnival also includes spectacles of classical music, various jhakis, dances, and food. The glamorous jhakis are a must-watch.
Ram Barat is a joyous and important festival in Northern India. It marks the historical event of the marriage of Ram with Sita. It is celebrated every year in September. Ram Barat attracts several devotees from across India and other countries too.
The bride’s place, Janakpuri, is decorated with lights and flowers for the auspicious event. Ram Barat is a religious riot of people’s beliefs, emotions, feelings, and adoration toward their god.
UNESCO world heritage site
Agra accommodates one of the most heritage buildings and attracts lakhs of tourists from all over the globe yearly. Be it the elegant Taj Mahal or the royal Agra Fort, Agra has it all.
Some other heritage sites in Agra are Jhunjhun Katora, Chini ka Roza, Jahangir Mahal, Moti bagh, Mehtab bagh, Ram Babu Ke Parathe, TDI mall, and Yamuna heritage walk.
If you are ever in Agra, you can follow this guide for a little tour of the city. Hope you have a great time in Agra, India.