The Taj Mahal, Visit Agra

The Taj Mahal, © Can Stock / matejh

Visit Agra – Taj Mahal

The number one reason that people visit Agra is to see the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal over a 20 year span starting in 1632 AD. The Taj Mahal honors the memory of Shah Janan’s wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in child birth. The expense to complete the memorial in white marble was a major factor in the decline of the Mughal Empire. The cost of the Taj Mahal was also a source of friction between Shah Jahan and his son, Aurangzeb. Eventually Aurangzeb had his father placed under house arrest in the Agra Fort for the rest of his life.

Taj Mahal Entrance, Visit Agra

Taj Mahal Entrance

The Taj Mahal UNESCO World Heritage Site is closed on Fridays. Also visit the Mehtab Bagh Moonlight Garden on the opposite bank of the river from the Taj Mahal.

Taj Mahal at Sunset, Visit Agra

Taj Mahal at Sunset

Visit Agra Fort

Akbar the Great converted the Agra Fort into a wall city in the 1500s. The Agra Fort has 3 large gates. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal, was imprisoned in the Agra Fort by his son. Shah Jahan was provided luxurious quarters with a view of the Taj Mahal. He died at the fort and was buried in the Taj Mahal beside his wife. The Agra Fort has 16 palaces and is sometimes called the Red Fort, which causes some confusion with the similar Red Fort in Delhi.

Agra Fort, Visit Agra

Agra Fort, © Can Stock / al_la

Fatehpūr Sikrī

Akbar the Great built the Fatehpūr Sikrī in the 16th century. Akbar the Great was the grandfather of Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal. The Fatehpūr Sikrī includes the Queen’s Palaces for his wives and the archway called the Lower Haramsara. The city was soon abandoned as an inhabitable location. Fatehpūr Sikrī is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s about a half hour from Agra.

Agra Fort Interior, Visit Agra

Agra Fort Interior

Visit Agra – Temples and Churches

  • Jami Masjid (Dargah Mosque)
  • Mankameshwar Temple – dedicated to Hindu Lord Shiva.
  • The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception – Christianity’s universal influence.
Jami Masjid Mosque, Visit Agra

Jami Masjid Mosque, © Can Stock / klemenr

Visit Agra – Hotels

  • Radisson Blu Agra Taj East Gate
  • Courtyard by Marriott Agra
  • ITC Mughal
Mosque beside the Taj Mahal, Visit Agra

Mosque at Taj Mahal, © Can Stock / Claudine

Visit Agra – More Tombs

  • Itimad-Ud-Daulah or the Baby Taj – tomb of Mizra Ghiyas Beg, built in the early 1600s. Many design elements of the Baby Taj show up in the Taj Mahal.
  • Soami Bagh Temple – the tomb of Sri Shiv Dayal Singh Seth, who founded the Radhasoami faith.
  • Chini-Ka-Rauza – tomb of Afzal Khan from the early 1600s. Nearby is the Ram Bagh Gardens, built by the first Mughal Emperor, Babar.
Baby Taj, Visit Agra

Baby Taj, © Can Stock / Claudine

Things to See and Do near Agra

  • Sikandra – tomb of Akbar the Great, located 15 minutes from Agra.
  • Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary – a famous bird sanctuary an hour from Agra.
  • National Chambal Sanctuary – protecting the Indian gharial crocodile and the Ganges River Dolphin. The National Chambal Sanctuary is a little over an hour from Agra.
Sikandra, The Tomb of Akbar the Great

Sikandra, © Can Stock / micropix

Get to Agra

Agra is not easily accessible, because it’s in the north central part of India. Agra doesn’t have a major airport, so most people fly to Delhi to get to Agra. From Delhi, most tourists take an organized bus tour or the train. The train ride from Delhi takes more than 2 hours to get to Agra. Some tourists fly in to the regional airport in Agra too.

Gallery of Pillars, Agra Fort, Visit Agra

Gallery of Pillars, Agra Fort, © Can Stock / al_la

Tours often include the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur in their visit. At this northerly latitude, consider adding Kathmandu in Nepal to your travel plans.

Be prepared for a bit of culture shock when you get to Agra. The beauty of its World Heritage Sites contrasts sharply with the pollution, smog and garbage littering the city of Agra.

Agra Fort Gate, Visit Agra

Agra Fort Gate

Agra Weather

The Agra weather is a major consideration for those who visit Agra. The months of May and June are extremely hot with high temperatures averaging more than 40 C (105 F). July through September add heavy rainfall, which drops the temperatures only a few degrees.

Amar Singh Gate, Agra Fort, Visit Agra

Agra Fort, © Can Stock / al_la

The best time of year to visit for good weather is November to March when average highs are comfortable and rainfall is low.

Visit Agra – Background

Agra is a city about 2 hours south of New Delhi on the Yamuna River. About 2 million people live in the city, which isn’t all that large for cities in India. The walled city of Fort Agra is documented to have been in existence just before 1100 AD. There were several transitions of regional rule over the centuries. The Mughal Emperors from the mid 1500s to the mid 1600s are responsible for improving or creating the architecture of the city that remains today. UNESCO has designated three World Heritage sites in Agra – the Tāj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpūr Sikrī.

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