In Agra, layers of history are peeled away to reveal an amazing tapestry of life - of wars waged, of great architectural magnificence and above all a testimony of the undying love of a king for his queen.
That Agra is unparalleled as a travel destination is an established fact. Even Bill Clinton testified to as much when he declared the world was divided into two: those who have seen the Taj and those who have not! Besides the Taj Mahal though, there are a lot of other important sights in and around Agra. The Agra Fort, Moti Masjid and innumerable other attractions make the city feature on every traveller's must-do-sightseeing list.
The first time you travel to Agra, the city can be a bit overwhelming with its noise and big crowds. There are government run and private tourist information centres galore and you should take advantage of them. Most of them offer tour guide services, which is useful if you're stuck in a chaotic Indian city, particularly if you're low on knowledge about its premier attraction. There are also nearly as many touts as tourists! Beware of them and stay with registered guides. However, no matter how many times you've done Agra and the Taj Mahal, their attraction never fades. If you're an old Agra hand of course, you'll be quite at home in this crazy bustling town.
How to Reach Agra?
By Air : Agra has its own airport by the name of Agra Civil Enclaves also known as Kheria Airport but flight operations are erratic at best. It is advisable to check if airlines are operating flights when you are planning your trip.
By Rail : The city has two railway stations of which Agra Cantonment is the larger. Apart from the Shatabdi Express there are many super fast expresses connecting Agra with Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
By Road : Agra is located just 204 km away from the national capital city, Delhi. The city is connected to Mathura (56 kms), Delhi (203 kms), Gwalior (118 kms), Jaipur (237 kms) and several other major cities.
Best Time to Visit Agra
The best time to visit Agra is during the winter season between November and March when the weather is at its best. During this time the temperature is moderate and several festivals coincide. Taj Mahotsav, the popular 10 day long festival is celebrated during the month of February each year. A visit to this fair is a must for the art, craft and culture admirers. Ram Bharat, Kailash Fair and Bateshwar Fair are the other major eyeball grabbing festivals.
While deciding upon a location to visit and its time one must also check with the local fairs and festivals of the city as this accelerates the excitement of the voyage.
Things to do in Agra
Agra has plenty of things to do. The top spot obviously is taken by the Taj Mahal – so see it in all its splendor, and if you can get an early morning view of it or when you are there and it is open to see by the moonlight, the sight is ethereal!
After the Taj, make tracks to the Agra Fort and admire its splendid architecture and pay a visit to the Itmad ud Daulah or the Baby Taj as it is sometimes known. A foray to Fatehpur Sikri is very much in order to see this deserted fort city built by Akbar - even today centuries after it has been deserted, this majestic red sand stone structure is reminiscent of its glorious past.
Sightseeing done, head to the markets and buy marble inlay artifacts to take back home, but do bargain for a good price. Agra is also known for its leather industry so buy a bag or some shoes – they are bound to be of very good quality.
Agra has many activities for the tourist, so do make the most of your trip to this historic city.
Places Near Agra
Fatehpur Sikri is a deserted fort city, 37 km from Agra. Legend has it that Akbar, who had no son, went to the Sufi saint Sheikh Salim Chishti to seek his blessings. Soon enough, Prince Jahangir was born to his Hindu wife Jodha Bai. As an expression of gratitude, Akbar shifted his capital to the new city which was build between 1569 and 1585. Built in Akbar’s favourite style in red sandstone, this 8 square kilometre complex houses several buildings, which are an amalgamation of Hindu and Islamic architecture.
The Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is specially meant for the bird lovers and also for those who wish to get unwind by watching the amazing creations of the nature. Situated just 56 km away from Agra, it can be reached by hires taxis.
Vrindavan also known as Vraj is better known as the place where Lord Krishna spent his childhood days. The Distance from Agra to Vrindavan is 66 km and it takes 1 and half hour’s drive from Agra to Vrindavan by car. The town showcases hundreds of temples and other sacred places and is a must visit place at least once in a lifetime.
Like Vrindavan, Mathura is also associated with the life of Lord Krishna. It the birth place of Lord Krishna and stores abundance of his memories. It is located 60 km away from Agra and there are lots to religious places to visit here.
Gwalior is located 118 km away from Agra. Named after a saint, there are forts and temples which makes it a must visit place.
Hotels in Agra – Choice is Yours
There are numerous hotels in Agra ranging from 3-star, 4-star and 5-star deluxe to budget hotels.