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Agra

Agra

Situated about 200 kms from Delhi, the city of Taj Mahal, Agra lies in the North Indian State of Uttar Pradesh. Extremely popular amongst Indian and foreign tourists, the city is part of the golden triangle circuit of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur. The city houses the three UNESCO World Heritage sites – The Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri and the Agra Fort. Taj Mahal was once part of the seven wonders of the world and for any foreign tourist trip to India is incomplete without a visit to the Taj.

Weather

Given its proximity to Delhi and Rajasthan, Agra experiences extreme weather conditions. Summers are extremely hot and winters are very cold especially during nights. The best time to visit is Feb-Apr and Sep- Nov.

How to Reach

The city is well connected by all means of transport air, road and rail. Given its proximity to both Delhi and Jaipur it is a popular weekend getaway for many people. The city falls on the main train line to Mumbai and Chennai and thus has great connectivity. Flights are available from all popular and business cities and connectivity by road is just fantastic. Taxi and bus services are available to visit Agra every day.

Key attractions/Sightseeing

People primarily go on a day long excursion to Agra. While there are many mosques and tombs to see from the Mughal era in the city, the three key attractions remain the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.

Taj Mahal: Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a beautiful ivory white-marble mausoleum known as the icon of love. It is the perfect example of the intricacy and brilliance of Persian and Mughal architecture constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan, in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

Agra Fort: Agra Fort is a red sandstone and marble architecture that exude power and grandiosity. Agra fort was constructed by Emperor Akbar in 1565 as a military structure but was later transformed into a palace by his grandson Emperor Shah Jahan. Some of the most iconic structures in Mughal history are still a part of this fort, such as Shish Mahal (Mirror Palace), Diwan-e-aam (Hall of general audience) and Diwan-e-khaas (Hall of private audiences). The Amar Singh gate, which was built to confuse attackers with its dogleg design, is the sole point of entry to the fort.

Mehtab Bagh: Mehtabbagh is a char-bagh (four garden) complex situated opposite to Taj Mahal. It is considered as ultimate viewing point of the magnificent marble mausoleum. From hereone can take beautiful photographs with a gorgeous backdrop of the Taj Mahal.

Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah: Itimad-ud-Daulah is referred to as the “baby Taj” or a draft of the Taj Mahal, as it has been constructed with the same elaborate carvings and pietra dura (cut-out stone work) inlay techniques.The tomb is surrounded by beautiful gardens that make it the perfect site to relax and experience the beauty of an era that was rich in art, culture, and history.

Akbar’s Tomb: Akbar’s Tomb is located at Sikandra in the suburbs of Agraon the Mathura road. The Tomb of Akbar is an important Mughal architectural masterpiece built in 1605-1613. It houses the mortal remains of the greatest Mughal Emperor Akbar. The shape of tomb is pyramidal and consists of five levels. The cenotaph is at a level below the ground level. The entire tomb is constructed of red sandstone but the top level is constructed in white marble. The ground floor is surrounded by cloisters except at the centre on the southern side. These cloisters are divided by massive arches and piers divisible into many bays. The next three levels have an arcaded verandah, with arcades and cluster of kiosks on each side.

Fatehpur Sikri:Fatehpur Sikri is a deserted fort city in the Agra District of Uttar Pradesh, India. UNESCO declared this complex as a World Heritage Site in 1986. Fatehpur Sikri is one of the best-preserved collections of Indian Mughal architecture. Designed as per Mughal architecture, with an amalgamation of Indian, Persian and Islamic architecture, this city has a rocky ridge, which is 3 km long and 1 km wide. The entire city is built using locally quarried red sandstone, which is also known as Sikri sandstone.The city was constructed to honor Sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chisti, who used to live in a cavern on the ridge at Sikri. Akbar revered him as the Saint had blessed him with a son who was named Salim in 1569. This city served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 till 1585 and was later called Fatehpur Sikri.

Soami Bagh Temple/Radha Soami Samadhi: Soami Bagh Temple popularly known as Radha Swami Samadhiis situated in Dayalbaghon the outskirts of Agra.The Soami Bagh temple is the mausoleum of Huzur Swamiji Maharaj. Located adjacent to the mausoleum, there is Bhajan Ghar the place where, Soamiji Maharaj carried out the spiritual practices during his lifetime; the Bhajan Ghar also houses Satsang once per day. Bhandara festivals are celebrated here which attracts large number of devotees.

Mankameshwar Temple: Sri Mankameshwar Temple is an ancient temple located at Rawatpara near the Jama Masjid in Agra. According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that the Shiva Lingainside the Mankameshwar Temple was created by lord Shiva himself when lord Krishna was born in Mathura. The Shiva linga in this temple is covered with silver metal. The temple has sanctum sanctorum which has the statue of Lord Shiva. Behind the shrine of lord Shiv, there are many small temples within the complex. These temples are devoted to numerous divinities such as goddess Saraswati, Gayatri and Ganga, and god Hanuman, Rama and Narsimha.

Jaswant Singh Ki Chhatri: Jaswant Singh Ki Chhatri is situated in Rajwara, Balkeshwar along the banks of river Yamuna in Agra. Jaswant Ki Chhatri is a domed pillared pavilion shaped cenotaph, which reflects Rajasthani architecture. It was built during 1644-58 AD and is said to be the only monument to have been built by a Hindu king in Agra during the Mughal era. The monument is dedicated to Rani Hada, wife of Amar Singh Rathore, who was killed on 25th July, 1644 at Agra Fort. Raja Jaswant Singh, younger brother of Amar Singh Rathore built this commemorative Chhatri.The Chhatri is a unique blend of Mughal & Hindu architecture.

Kinari Bazar: Kinari Bazar is the perfect place for shopping in the old city. Located in the narrow streets behind Jama Masjid, where multitudes of colorful little shops spill over, this is the place where some of the finest jewelry in Agra, as well as fabric, clothing, shoes, authentic snack stalls, and Agra’s famous marble-work can be found. It is also the go-to place for items related to weddings, like beautifully crafted garlands, bridal veils, and groom turbans.

Taj Museum: Taj Museum established in 1982is one of the most popular museums in Agra and is located in the ground floor of western NaubatKhana, also known as Jal Mahal, with in the Taj Mahal complex. The museum displays various exhibits relating mostly to the construction of the Taj Mahal and to the period of its builders. Totally 121 antiquities are on display, which are broadly categorized as Mughal miniature paintings, manuscripts, government decrees, specimen of calligraphy, arms, utensils, plans and drawings of Taj Complex, paintings, specimen inlay work, marble pillars, etc.

Taj Nature Walk: Taj Nature walk is located just 500 meters away from the eastern gate of Taj Mahal. This is a place where one can walk around and enjoy some quiet time, especially during the winters. It is also quite famous for offering a view of the Taj from various angles, especially four main points from where the Taj Mahal can be seen in the background.

Wildlife SOS: Wildlife SOS is a great place to visit and spend time with the animals. Although Wildlife SOS was initially started to rescue the “dancing bears” of India but gradually it started active projects to provide shelter and help to leopards, elephants, reptiles, and other animals.Wildlife SOS offers a personal experienceinvolving a guided tour of the facility, a documentary to explain the history of the dancing bears, and activities to interact with the bears. The center remains open seven days a week, from sunrise to sunset.

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