There is a bit more Agra just a quick visit to the Taj Mahal. If you are heading to Agra then this post on 5 things to do in Agra is perfect to help you plan your trip. A lot of travelers have the iconic Taj Mahal on their bucket list, the love story alone behind this magnificent building is enough to draw millions of people to Agra. Having seen the beautiful Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi, I had much more of an appreciation for the Taj Mahal as Humayun’s Tomb was what really gave birth to the idea of creating the Taj Mahal. You can read about that in my post. I wonder if that hadn’t come before it, as to whether we would have the Taj Mahal today.
There is so much to do in Agra beyond the Taj Mahal from experiencing views of the beautiful Taj Mahal as you sip afternoon tea at Oberoi Hotel, to mingling in Agra’s markets to taking in the reach history of Agra Fort. You can visit the Agra on a day trip from Delhi or your can stay a day or two. You can check out my post on how to get from Delhi to Agra by train, car or bus.
- 1 0. Visit The Taj Mahal
- 2 1. Explore Agra Fort
- 3 2. See Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah aka Baby Taj
- 4 3. Shop for marble and Persian-style carpets in Agra
- 5 4. Exploring the markets and jewelry stores
- 6 5. Taste Authentic Indian Curry
- 7 Getting there
- 8 Stay | Where to stay in Agra
0. Visit The Taj Mahal
First things, first. One cannot visit Agra and not visit the Taj Mahal. Yes, it may be crowded but all noise and the pitta-patta of feet loses its volume as you are just in awe of the beauty of the Taj Mahal. The intricate details of semi-precious stones inlaid into marble. The details and thought that weight into everything all the way down to the gates and fixtures on them to represent how long it took to build from start to finish. Truly a sight to behold and one that cannot be rushed. Take it in from all angles and if you can from across the river. I have linked above to my post on our Visit to see the Taj Mahal in addition to my tips for visiting the Taj Mahal.
1. Explore Agra Fort
Having braved the crowds or the Indian Summer, depending on your visit. A visit to the important 16th-century Mughal monument known as the Red Fort of Agra. This is a short rickshaw ride from the Taj Mahal. This powerful fortress of red sandstone encompasses within its 2.5-km-long enclosure walls, the imperial city of the Mughal rulers. The forbidding exteriors of this fort hide an inner paradise. There are a number of exquisite buildings like Moti Masjid – a white marble mosque akin to a perfect pearl. If you are with a knowledgeable tour guide you will learn about the many Emperors and their many wives and the lavish lifestyles of past time. Truly fascinating listening to the stories, they almost bring the building to life and suddenly you can imagine how people lived within the walls of the Fort. If you cannot bring a guide I would highly recommend coming with a guidebook. Buildings without the stories behind them have no meaning and no soul to them. Don’t forget that Agra Fort was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty till 1638 so if buildings could talk…
In addition to Agra Fort if time permits, I would also add another UNESCO treasure in Agra that is Fate Sikri.
2. See Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah aka Baby Taj
Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah is a Mughal mausoleum in Agra. Often described as a “jewel box”, sometimes called the Baby Taj, the tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah is often regarded as a draft of the Tāj Mahal. Baby Taj is the tomb of Mir Ghiyas Beg and was built years before Taj Mahal. Mir Ghiyas Beg, a Persian nobleman was Mumtaz Mahal’s grandfather and Emperor Jehangir’s wazir (chief minister). His daughter, Nur Jahan, who married Jehangir, built the tomb between 1622 and 1628, in a style similar to the tomb she built for Jehangir near Lahore in Pakistan. Mumtaz Mahal who we know, died in 1631 in, during the birth of her fourteenth child is now synonymous with the Taj Mahal. Built by Shah Jahan had as a mausoleum for her, which is considered to be a monument of “undying love”. India is filled with many more of these beautiful tombs around the country.
3. Shop for marble and Persian-style carpets in Agra
With the history build the material and methods used to construct the Taj Mahal, one cannot miss on on the many shops selling marble fixtures. From jewellery boxes to plates, and chairs. Most of these shops will most likely have someone on hand to demonstrate the process of in-lay in Marble with various stones.
4. Exploring the markets and jewelry stores
We all love a bit of sparkle and one cannot go to India and not come back with some jewellery. Whether for yourself or as gifts. Like any small town in India, the core of old Agra is a warren of lanes, each with thriving local markets. Browse the exquisite Bazaars of Kinari and Sadar and check out the embroidered material and inexpensive leather goods. The Rawatpara markets is rich with the aromas of spices and the hustle and bustle of a wholesale vegetable market at Sabji Mandi. Also worth hunting out are the jewellery store with beautiful precious stone jewellery. I manage to huggle my way to a beautiful sterling silver tennis bracelet with aquamarine, one of my favourite stone, which would have cost me a pretty penny in England.
Tours in Agra.
There are plenty of tours on offer in Agra, from guided tours of Taj Mahal to exploring the markets and factories to food tours. Check out Get You Guide and Viator to view the selection and compare reviews.
5. Taste Authentic Indian Curry
While the Taj Mahal is something one must experience in India, so is the food! After a busy day of sightseeing, head to the chaat gali (snack street) of Sadar Bazaar market. Home to famous chaat shops Shri Agrawal Chat House and Agra Chat Bhandar, this neighbourhood is a delight for the taste buds. There is a wealth of delights to sample, from flavour-filled samosas, authentic curries, and the fluffy besan ka cheela (crepes made with chickpea flour). Finish with Agra’s famous petha, a gooey sweet made of pumpkin. If sampling the food is not enough, you can also sign up for cooking classes in Agra to learn how some the delicious Indian food is made.
You can fly directly to New Delhi and from there are options of using a tour service, train, bus or car hire with driver or taxi. I will cover these in my next post so look out for that. In the meantime you can also check out my post on 13 places to see in Delhi.
Stay | Where to stay in Agra
There is so much to see beyond the Taj Mahal that a day in Agra is simply not enough. In addition to that point with the inexpensive price of the ticket, it may be worth visiting the Taj Mahal again before leaving the city. Failing that there are also hotels with amazing views of the Taj Mahal from your very own room, bathroom or even balcony. Imagine dinning to views of the Taj as you sip wine at The Oberoi Hotel or chilling by the pool with views of the Taj Mahal from Radisson or Hilton hotel. There are plenty of hotels f near the Taj Mahal and those with views of the Taj Mahal. Prices ranges are dependant on your style and travel budget. You can also opt for hotels near Agra Fort which also have a lovely view of the Taj Mahal.
More on India on the blog:
- How to Get From Delhi to Agra
- Tips for a Stress-free Visit to the Taj Mahal
- Humayun’s Tomb – A Tomb That Gave Birth to the Idea of Taj Mahal
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