Famed with one of the Seven Wonders of the World - Taj Mahal, Agra is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Agra is a virtual fort of history and architecture located in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India.
Located at the banks of River Yamuna, Agra offers the tourists the richest of the manmade beauties including three UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Agra fort, Fatehpur Sikri and Taj Mahal. It is the haven of Mughal art, culture and architecture.
Agra was established as the Mughal capital in 1526 and is known for its chaotic and vibrant marketplace (chowk), endless auto rickshaw touts, plentiful souvenir vendors, historic temples and many grand, ancient monuments and tombs.
Taj Mahal, the pinnacle of Mughal architecture, was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (Reign 1628-1658), grandson of Akbar the great, in the memory of his queen Arjumand Bano Begum, entitled ‘Mumtaz Mahal’. The mausoleum is located on the right bank of the river Yamuna. Is is built entirely of white marble, set on a high base or plinth which includes four tall minarets, one on each corner. On either side of the tomb are a mosque and a guest house, while the tomb faces a garden laid out in the "charbagh" style, with a central walkway with fountains and viewing platforms with green spaces and trees on either side. The entrance to the complex is through a grand ornamental gateway, inscribed with Quranic inscriptions and the calligraphed line "O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you."
Agra Fort is located on the right bank of the river Yamuna. It is one of the most important and robustly built stronghold of the Mughals, embellished with number of richly decorated buildings encompassing the imposing Mughal style of art and architecture. It was constructed by the third Mughal emperor Akbar on the remains of an ancient site known as Badalgarh. Akbar arrived in Agra in 1558. He ordered to renovate the fort with red sandstone. Some 4000 builders daily worked on it and it was completed in 8 years (1565-1573).
Nicknamed the Baby Taj, the exquisite tomb of Mizra Ghiyas Beg should not be missed. This Persian nobleman was Mumtaz Mahal’s grandfather and Emperor Jehangir’s wazir (chief minister). His daughter, Nur Jahan, who married Jehangir, built the tomb between 1622 and 1628, in a style similar to the tomb she built for Jehangir near Lahore in Pakistan.
It doesn’t have the same awesome beauty as the Taj, but it’s arguably more delicate in appearance thanks to its particularly finely carved jalis (marble lattice screens). This was the first Mughal structure built completely from marble, the first to make extensive use of pietra dura and the first tomb to be built on the banks of the Yamuna, which until then had been a sequence of beautiful pleasure gardens.
Agra Bear Rescue Facility
A sanctuary for over 200 rescued 'dancing' sloth bears, located in a bird sanctuary 30km outside of Agra (on the road to Delhi). Visitors are welcome to tour the park-like grounds and watch the bears enjoying their new, better world. It's a project of Wildlife SOS, which also runs a refuge for rescued circus elephants that you can visit, near Mathura.
Best time to visit
Through out the year.