Top 6 Things to Do in Agra

Mughals, who ruled India for over 200 years, have created some of the finest architectures in the history of India. Some of the most splendid Mughal-era buildings of all times are in Agra, city about 200 Km from the national capital, Delhi. No trip to India is complete without at least one visit to the Taj.

While many people associate Agra only with Taj Mahal, there are a lot more things that Agra has to offer for history and culture lovers. We would recommend 2-3 days in Agra if you are visiting for the first time. Here are the top 6 things you must do:

1. Taj Mahal

Lets start with the obvious: Taj Mahal. This symbol of eternal love from the 17th Century is an architectural marvel. The actual tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are kept in the lower level of Taj Mahal. The 4 pillars on the corners are the tomb are inclined at about 2 degrees outwards to ensure that the tomb is safe in case of any natural disaster such as earthquake. Such tiny details gave us goosebumps.

When you enter through the darwaza to see Taj Mahal, try walking forward and backward into the darwaza. Intuitively, when you walk closer to the monument, it should appear bigger. However, the monument appears smaller when you walk closer to it. a A guided tour is highly recommended for you to appreciate the architecture and the construction of this historic site.

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Taj Mahal: One of the wonders of the world

Visiting hours of Taj Mahal are sunrise to sunset & it remains closed on Friday.  The tickets can be bought at the site itself if you are seeing it during the day. However, if you have the flexibility around the dates, do visit Taj Mahal in the night during Full Moon days. Taj Mahal looks so mesmerizing in the night and gleams like a sparkling diamond in the moonlit sky.

You can find the detailed schedule and price of night tour here.

Do book the night tour atleast 6-7 weeks in advance as you may not get a slot. The maximum number of people allowed are 400, divided in 8 batches of 50 people each. We did not know this and hence missed the opportunity. If you are seeing Taj Mahal during the day, go early in the morning. You will beat the crowd and the heat, especially in the scorching summer season between April to July.

2. Mehtab Bagh

Mehtab Bagh was built by Emperor Babur and it is the last of the 11 Mughal built gardens on the Yamuna coast. It is said that Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor wanted to create a Taj Mahal look alike in black marble.

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View of Taj Mahal from Mehtab Garden

No one knows if this is true and there are believers on both side of the story. Ruins of the foundation of the blackened marble monument in Mehtab Bagh seems to support this legend. Aurangzeb, Shah Jahan’s son saw it as a wasteful expenditure and imprisoned him in the Agra Fort. Mehtab Bagh is also a great place to take pictures of Taj Mahal. We went in summers so the gardens were dried up but we can imagine it to be very picturesque during rainy seasons.

3. Agra Fort

The Agra Fort is indeed the most important fort in India. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Almost all the great Mughals (Babur, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb) have governed the empire from here. Akbar died in this Fort. Both Jahangir and Shah Jahan were coronated in the Agra Fort. Once Shah Jahan was imprisoned in Agra Fort he spent days and nights looking at Taj Mahal in the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Jahanara Begum Sahib, Jahan’s first daughter, voluntarily shared his 8-year confinement and nursed him in his dotage. As Shah Jahan was getting older, his vision got weaker and he found it difficult to view the symbol of his love. Jahanara Begum brought him a pair of glasses so that he can continue to see Taj Mahal until the end.

4. Jami Masjid

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View of Buland Darwaza from the Back Side

Fatehpur Sikri is about 36 Kms from Agra and takes about an hour to reach by taxi. Fatehpur Sikri served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585 under Akbar’s reign. The monuments at Fatehpur Sikri reflect Akbar’s acumen in assimilating diverse regional architectural influences within a holistic style that was uniquely his own. The city is famous for Jami Masjid, the Buland Darwaza and the Tomb of Salim Chishti. The mosque, Jami Masjid was built in 1648 by Emperor Shah Jahan and dedicated to his loving daughter, Jahanara Begum. The Tomb of Salim Chishti is believed to be a sacred tomb to fulfill all wishes of those who visit. The Buland Darwaza is on the main entrance to the palace of Fatehpur Sikri and is the highest gateway in the world. Akbar built this Darwaza as a symbol of his victory over Gujarat. The place was overly crowded so we could just take a picture with our mobile phones.

DSC_8119_SmallThe Fatehpur Sikri Palace

5. Panch Mahal

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Panch Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri

It is a five-storey palace made in red sandstone in Fatehpur Sikri. It also means wind catcher tower. Built on the pattern of a Buddhist Temple, Panch Mahal was basically a pleasure palace of the emperor Akbar. He primarily used it for relaxation and entertainment purpose since it is located close to Lady’s House or Harem.

6. Akbar’s Tomb in Sikandra

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Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandra

‘Akbar the Great’ planned his own tomb and selected the site for it neat the Jamuna river. Unfortunately, Akbar died in 1605 when its construction had just begun. Jahangir, son of Akbar completed the tomb in 1612 in the memory of this father. The tomb is a beautiful double storey tomb built in Iranian style. It is seated in the heart of a vast garden with hosts many deer and peacocks. There are benches on the side so you can sit and enjoy the view while admiring the majestic monument. The more we read about Mughals, the more we wish to have born during the period of Mughals. So much richness and authenticity has never been experienced in any other period. The era of Mughals has left a mark that will last until the end of time…

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26 Comments Add yours

  1. All these places look marvelous and for sure on my bucket list one day Ill get there.

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  2. The Taj Mahal is definitely on my must visit places. All of the places in your pictures are stunning.

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  3. Shirley Martinez says:

    I’d love to visit the Taj Mahal. It’s gorgeous in photos so I can only imagine how breathtaking it is in person!

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  4. Nikki says:

    These buildings have beautiful architecture! You can tell from this post that India would be a wonderful place to visit.

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  5. Visiting the Taj Mahal is definitely on my bucket list of places to visit. I recall reading somewhere that the entire structure is actually sinking.

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  6. What a beautiful place! I would love to go there some day. The architecture is amazing.

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  7. modaddicted says:

    All of the places look so beautiful. I want to visit India so badly! Such a beautiful country, plus I love getting know the different cultures around the world. It’s fascinating.

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  8. liz cleland says:

    WOW! I have to visit all of these places. What a great resource for us to use, thank you!

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  9. Nadia says:

    Would absolutely love to visit Taj Mahal one day! So many gorgeous locations & things to do in Agra!! Thank you for sharing all the tips, too!
    xox Nadia
    http://www.mielandmint.com

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  10. I feel really dumb to say that I didn’t even know this was a city name! I feel a little bit smarter having read this post! haha

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  11. So many exciting and beautiful ideas, places to see and things to do! What an amazing trip you’re having!

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  12. Brittany says:

    I’ve been reading this amazing book that exemplifies the casts system of India called “The Space Between Us” and it has peaked a new sense of wonderment and interest in India. What gorgeous architectural marvels you’ve shared – I can only hope that one day I can visit them in person.

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  13. Amanda Love says:

    Who knew that aside from the Taj Mahal, there are so many beautiful architecture here! I really want to explore more of the place and learn more about the history of each lovely building.

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  14. Liz Cochico says:

    This is a great list of beautiful places to visit in India. I’ve always wanted to see the Taj Mahal. Hopefully, soon.

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  15. These are ideas on places to visit. I hope to get here one day.

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  16. Kim says:

    This is such a bucket list trip for me. I would love to go after my son is in high school. It would be a great learning experience.

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  17. Vicky says:

    Wow, so much history and amazing things to see and do. I really hope to get there one day. Seems like a once in a lifetime trip.

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