It’s Much More than “Only” The Taj Mahal
There is so much more to Agra than “only” the Taj Mahal. It is sad to see that many tours consider Agra only worth a day trip from Delhi. Agra has a lot to offer, and you will need 2.5 to 3 days to explore it all without rushing around.
- The Taj Mahal
Love, beauty, death and unparalleled elegance… All these ingredients contribute to making the Taj Mahal one of the wonders of the world, a place not to be missed. Who would remain untouched by the story of Mumtaz Mahal, the favorite, beloved wife of Emperor Sha Jahan? She gave her life delivering their 14th child. Contemporary poets raved about her beauty and gracefulness. In her honor, Sha Jahan had the Taj Mahal built, an immortal reminder of eternal love! Regarded as the finest example of Mughal architecture, this White Marble Mausoleum combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman & Indian architectural art.
- Agra Fort
Agra Fort, a mélange of red sandstone and white marble, is one of the finest Forts in Rajasthan. For Akbar, the early Mughal ruler, it served as a mighty fort. A wide moot is circling it, the first hint of its defensive character during times long gone. The impressive outside walls are dark-red and the majority of the buildings are of the same color. Later, Sha Jahan used his favorite building material, white marble, to turn this fort into a palace.
- The Baby Taj
Itimad-ud-Daulah, also called the “Baby Taj”, sits on a small platform, all white, with the most delicate inlay work: tiny chips of semi precious stones create the most outstanding patterns. The atmosphere shortly before sunset and the incredible quietness there are truly unique…
- Fatehpur Sikri
Fatehpur Sikri, with its 40 different buildings, definitely left a lasting impression on us. All built by Emperor Akbar. We found his personal airy, multi-story palace particularly striking. He also treated each of his wives to their own palace. Whenever guides talk about the wives of Moghul rulers, they point out that the emperor married women of different religions: Muslims, Christians, Hindi, etc. Whether this is true or a bit of political correctness added in modern days, we do not know, but the story has a nice touch.
- Kinari Bazaar
Do not expect to find the usual touristy souvenir shops there. You will actually be the only visitors, and draw surprised looks that let you know that foreigners are not a common sight in this chaos. Because this is pure chaos: a maze of small streets bordered by little shops or stalls selling just about anything you need in everyday life, a permanent traffic jam – cars, auto-rickshaws, bicycles and motorcycles, cows, herds of water buffalos, pedestrians, you name it! This is about watching Indian street life in its craziest form, and get all your senses overwhelmed…
- Akbar Mausoleum
Akbar’s Mausoleum is made of the famous red sandstone, decorated with beautiful ornaments, flowers, grapes and lots of elegant Arabic writing. Inside, a guide says a prayer that echoes loudly through the burial chamber, adding another dramatic touch. The other attraction there are the many monkeys in the gardens around Akbar’s Mausoleum. At times they just seat in the middle of enthusiastic tourists and seem to pose for the picture.
- Mughal Gardens
Emperor Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasties, had 11 gardens created along the Yamuna River. This is where he retreated during the hot days. Mehtab Bagh is definitely the most popular one, as it offers great views of the Taj Mahal from the other side of the river. But there are many more gardens to be discovered, if you have the time…
- Sipping A Beer With The Taj Mahal In The Background
Is there a better way to finish a day than leisurely sipping a beer on one of Taj Ganj rooftop terraces, with an amazing view of the Taj Mahal at sunset? Our favorite was the Restaurant of Kamal Hotel that serves cold beer (no other alcohol) and reasonable food, with an excellent view of the Taj Mahal. Be there early if you want to have the best tables, though…