The iconic city of Agra has today become synonymous with The Taj Mahal. From far and wide tourists come to visit Agra just to glance at the enchanting Taj Mahal. Yet, Agra is much more than just the Taj Mahal. This historic city is a Mughal gem that is brimming with forts, architectural marvels, and beauty that will make you fall in love with it.
Agra is a place that is worth experiencing and is not just limited to the beauty of the Taj Mahal. To experience Agra fully, one needs to look beyond the Taj Mahal and see the other wonders of Agra.
Here are some of the other marvels in Agra:
One of the other most popular sites in Agra is the robust and palatial Agra Fort. The Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which already speaks for its importance and relevance. It was built in the Mughal era and was one of the most strategic and significant forts fro the Mughals.
When you visit this colossal Fort, you will notice the usual red sandstone, that most of the other Mughal monuments also feature, and the intricate design. The Agra Fort is a wonderful testimony to the rich architectural powers that Mughal India possessed. From its strategic towers, to narrow gateways, this Fort was more than just a sight of beauty.
There are so many stories that hide behind the red walls of this Fort, that you must hire a guide to unearth them all. The Agra Fort has been plundered and invaded many times, however, you will still find a few mosques, some private rooms, and an audience hall intact.
If must also witness the glorious Light and Sound Show at the Agra Fort, which takes place every evening. The show is a delightful retelling of history and you will be left in awe with the production and the stories that are narrated.
If you haven’t been to Fatehpur Sikri, then you haven’t been to Agra at all. Many tourists have even claimed that Fatehpur Sikri is even more glorious and mesmerizing than the Taj Mahal. A testimony to the remarkable architecture of the Mughals, Fatehpur Sikri is on a different level. The moment you enter this town, you will feel a chill run down your spine, as you relish the Mughal history that still swirls in the air.
This town was once the capital of the Mughal Empire before it was shifted to the Agra Fort. You should opt for a guided tour of Fatehpur Sikri to unearth all the secrets and anecdotes that still echo from the walls of this place.
The towering Jama Masjid was built by the great Shah Jahan and is one of the largest mosques in India. This iconic mosque is once again made with the usual red sandstone, which took about six years to finish. As of today, the mosque can accommodate 25,000 devotees, which alone speaks for its majestic size.
The architecture is difficult to miss, as it is four minarets, and a wondrous courtyard which will make you gasp. The interiors are adorned with white marble pieces, making it glitter when the sun rays hit the walls.
The roads leading up to this mesmerizing mosque is alive with bustling markets that sell everything from- spices to shoes to clothes. At first, it can get a little too much to walk through these crowded markets, however, soon you will get used to the chitter-chatter and the obscene yelling.
There is also an off the road temple here called the Mankameshwar temple, which is devoted to Lord Shiva.
Even before the Taj Mahal had seen the first rays of sunlight, Agra has two exquisite tombs that were built in the dynamic Islamic style of architecture.
Agra is the city of the Mughals, and there is no better way to know more about this brilliant city, other than by taking a heritage tour through the Kachhpura Village. The beauty of this walk is not just the places it takes you to, but also this walk is conducted by the villagers and the locals. It is a brilliant initiative, and a great way to know more about the locals, and look beyond the image of the Taj Mahal. The tour starts from the beautiful Yamuna River, located right opposite the Taj Mahal, and you will be taken through the remote village of Kachhpura. It is a lovely experience to tour this little village while the locals themselves guide you and share a slice of their life with you. The tour will end the iconic Mehtab Bagh, and you can enjoy some idle time while gazing at the regal Taj Mahal.
If you are someone who is looking to get away from the crowds, then the nature walk is definitely for you. This serene trail, will lead you to the lesser-known green areas in Agra and show you the Taj Mahal while being surrounded by greenery.
Located about 500 m from the East Gate, this reserve forest is resplendent with lush green trees, and wondrous leaves that softly fall into the ground. The entire reserve has a lot of sitting areas, tranquil locations, and beautiful watchtowers for you to enjoy a blissful day all by yourself. It is the best place to escape after a whole day amidst crowds.
If you wish to see a different side of Agra, then head over to the well known Agra Bear Rescue Centre. This adorable and thrilling place is home to sloth bears, who were rescued from captivity. It is quite endearing to see these little bears roam about in freedom and live the life they were meant to. There is also a private tour which you can opt for. It will allow you to get up and close to these charming little bears.
The serene Korai Village is quite a revelation in Agra. Developed as a tourism initiative, this village houses several tribes with a lot of history and folklore. It is quite an eye-opening tour as you watch the villagers go about earning their basic wage to get a bare minimum living.
If you are visiting Agra, then you must pop into this little artsy cafe which will surely make your evening a little more interesting. Quite a contrast to the otherwise historical atmosphere of Agra, Sheroes Hangout is brimming with groovy music, graffiti and is managed by women who survived terrible acid attacks in India. Not only is this place brilliant, but it also represents the undying strength of these women. The food and drinks are also delicious here.
All of these places are unique and fascinating in their way. While they often get overshadowed by the popularity of the Taj Mahal, these sites are worth exploring and visiting. They will show you a side of Agra that is beyond the Taj, and you will be pleasantly surprised as to how much beauty Agra has. So, just pack your bags and plan a trip to Agra that goes beyond the realms of the mesmerizing Taj Mahal.