Let’s start with a couple of questions straightaway. Did you know that Agra is India’s largest manufacturer of shoes? Or that the historic city has as many as three UNESCO World Heritage sites to its name? Okay, last one. How old were you when you found out that Agra is so much more than just being home to the dreamlike Taj Mahal? Actually, wait. Let’s not rush things. Maybe after reading this column, you will drop a text to your BFF saying, “Dude! I was today years old to learn about Agra and guess what. We’re going.”
Without a doubt, the fascinating Taj Mahal is, and always will be the main attraction of the city. And why not? A UNESCO World Heritage site, the beautiful monument, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, is one of the seven wonders of the world. Obviously, anyone who is going to see the Taj Mahal will be stunned by its charm from the front, BUT we strongly recommend you guys to wake up early just once and visit the marvel at dawn from the other side of Yamuna (behind the monument). We assure you that you will find the view of the Taj Mahal’s reflection in the river, worth sacrificing a bit of your sleep. You know it’s a serious matter when something is more important than sleep.
And now that we have talked about why you planned your visit to Agra for maybe even less than 24 hours, can we skip to the good part? Yes, we can. On that account, here are some ideas that might tempt you to stay in Agra longer than you planned.
Boating in the Yamuna
Going for a boat ride on the Yamuna river during sunrise or sunset hours is an absolute must. There is no better way to enjoy the view of the Taj Mahal. Period. Just imagine floating in peace, with beautiful golden light striking the shining white marble of the astonishing monument as you get an unobstructed view. It’s a magical and unbelievably relaxing experience.
Another UNESCO World Heritage site and another example of architectural brilliance, the Agra Fort, also known as the Red Fort of Agra, was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1573. At a distance of just 2.5 km from Taj Mahal, the historical fort was the residence of the Mughals till 1638.
It will not be an exaggeration to say that you can keep a whole day exclusively for the fort so that you can enjoy everything it offers without rushing. The Light and Sound Show held at the end of the day deserves a special mention. The magical program, with colorful lights falling on different parts of the fort and stunning sound effects, has the perfect way to tell you everything about Mughal history.
Some of the other splendid structures inside the fort premises are:
- Jahangir Palace: The largest residence in the complex, this palace was built by Akbar for his son Jahangir
- Khas Mahal: A private palace built by Shah Jahan between 1631 and 1640, Khas Mahal has the Yamuna river on one side and Anguri Bagh on the other
- Moti Masjid: Also known as the Pearl Mosque, Moti Masjid was also built by Shah Jahan as a place of worship for the members of the royal court
Why is it that after hearing the name ‘Fatehpur Sikri’, the first picture that comes to mind is always of Shah Rukh Khan with a guitar, singing Do Dil Mil Rahe Hain? Happened to you, too? High-five.
Just around 35 km away from Agra, the World Heritage site Fatehpur Sikri is a city made of red sandstone. Akbar built it in honor of the saint Sheikh Salim Chishti. The whole city boasts of Mughal architectural brilliance with a huge number of architectural gems such as the Buland Darwaza, Diwan-i-Khas or the Hall of Private Audience, Diwan-i-Aam, Panch Mahal, Anup Talao, Palace of Jodha Bai, and the Jama Masjid.
We bet none of the animal lovers expected anything for themselves in Agra. But here we are. Wildlife SOS is a non-profit organization whose main objective is to rescue and rehabilitate wild animals and preserve the forests in the country. The Agra Bear Rescue Facility is not just India’s, but the world’s largest sloth bear rescue facility. You can spend some quality time with the animals and learn everything about the work that the organization does, and more importantly, how they do it.
Oh! There’s More
Once you find yourself overwhelmed with these masterpieces, there is plenty more waiting for you in Agra.
- Nightlife: Yes, it’s a city of interesting history and culture, and the general impression is that it’s all about the historical places and monuments, BUT the locals in Agra know how to party. You can step out in the evenings, explore the glitzy nightclubs and see for yourself.
- Shopping: Alright! Let’s put your bargaining skills to test, shall we? You are going to love the local markets of Agra since they have so much to offer- souvenirs, handicrafts, jewelry, silk sarees, shoes, spices, etc. A few names you might want to note down are Kinari Bazaar, Sadar Bazaar, Subhash Bazaar and Raja ki Mandi. You will need to carry a big bag just in case you can’t resist buying everything.
- Kalakriti Dance Drama Show: The Kalakriti Cultural and Conventional Centre hosts an amazing dance musical called Mohabbat-the-Taj: The Saga of Love. You can also shop for handicrafts here.
- Mehtab Bagh: Built by Emperor Babar, the beautiful Persian-style garden Mehtab Bagh is a spot you can relax at. There is relatively less number of people here and you still get to see the Taj Mahal at a short distance.
Head to Agra with your buddies and without second thoughts. Your stay is sorted with goSTOPS.