Thursday, September 4, 2014

Exploring Agra - Beyond the Taj Mahal

Whenever Agra is mentioned on the World map, it is only associated with the Taj Mahal. Indeed, Taj is the most beautiful monument on the planet. But the City Agra has a lot more to offer than just Brand Taj. Agra is one of the vertexes of the golden triangle, Delhi and Jaipur being the other two. I have seen people rushing back to Delhi or Jaipur after their Taj visit.
I have spent four years of my life in Agra and I am bringing you few other facts and places which you need to keep in mind while traveling to Agra.

        1) Agra Fort
The Sandstone Fort built by Akbar stands tall on the banks of River Yamuna. A fort which was once the residence of the most powerful family of India has different segments which are brilliantly crafted and showcases the Indo-Persian architecture. Diwan-i- am (House of Common), Diwan-i-Khas (House of Lords), Sheesh Mahal, Moti Masjid are favorite attractions of the place. It has a prison cell where Shah Jahan was kept when Aurangzeb became the king, Taj can be seen by the Window of the prison and he must have spent days and nights watching the beautiful Taj before breathing his last.

        2) Itmad-ud-daulah

When you will be passing the Yamuna Bridge in Agra, you would be able to see Taj on your right and Idmad-ud-daulah on your left. Idmad-ud-daulah was built by Noorjahan and is a mausoleum of her father. It is often termed as the baby Taj and is a special place for history buffs because it is a transition building where Mughals were moving to Marbles from Sandstone. Earlier Mausoleums like Humayun tomb or sikandra were built from Sandstone and it was Noor Jahan which brought this Change and Mughals started following her and then Taj Mahal was built by Marble. Otherwise, Taj would have been a Sandstone building and all its charm would have been lost down the ages.

        3) Sikandra 

Located on the NH-2 or the famous Grand trunk road, Sikandra is the tomb of Akbar the great. Sikandra has a large entrance to the place which is an imitation of Buland Darwaza built by Akbar. Legends say Akbar had chosen the place much before his death as his Mausoleum and he was buried in the same place. It has grand Sandstone built complex and beautiful Calligraphy has been done on the entrance and burial site.
        4) Explore the remains of Fatehpur Sikri

Small town of Fatehpur Sikri lies on the outskirts of Agra district, was once the capital of Akbar. Akbar laid foundation of this town and shifted his capital to Fatehpur Sikri from Agra. Mughals built this beautiful city with the biggest gateway ever made “Buland Darwaza”. Naubat Khana, Panch Mahal, Jama Masjid are other main attractions out here. But the reason why Akbar shifted his capital was due to this person whose grave is buried inside the complex named “Salim Chisti”, the great Sufi saint who had blessed Akbar for a baby boy. There are many legends floating in Fatehpur Sikri about Akbar’s Navratans and Anarkali and if you love stories, the locals will keep you engaged  for long.
        5) Explore the old Mughal capital-
Antique buildings in Old city have stories which have molded the city’s history to its current form. Agra is one of such cities which had a glorious past but it is getting lost in today’s time. But when we roam in area of Tajganj and Rakabganj which has craftsman still practicing Marble or granite works you feel the city is still preserving its beauty somewhere deep inside their heart. 

  6) Agra visit is incomplete without a box of Petha
A north Indian sweet “Petha” (made from the ash gourd vegetable originated in Agra) and Agra relation is inseparable. You can’t come to Agra and leave without taking boxes filled with Petha. The City has very old shops serving people from ages. My favorite would be “Gopal Das Pethe wale” on M.G.Road , opposite Shah talkies. So, if you are coming to Agra, it is a must try for you.

 Let me know if you have found or heard anything that can be added in the list.
I hope to hear from you guys !!


  1. My first trip to Agra was a bit of a whirlwind, and I wound up spending most of my time around the Taj Mahal, but on subsequent trips I discovered that you're right, there is so much more to see. I quite liked the Agra Fort actually - I thought it was nicer and more interesting than the Red Fort in Delhi.

    1. That's what i feel..Agra fort is the best fort built by mughals