Agra Tour

Even if the idea of visiting what is arguably the world’s greatest 'monument to love' doesn’t appeal; there's actually more to see in Agra. The dusty little town was once the capital of the Mughal Empire and is now home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and other fascinating examples of Islamic architecture commissioned by Emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Set aside time to shop for handicrafts, embroidery and jewellery.
 
MONUMENTS
 
The Taj Mahal
Perhaps you’ve seen it a hundred times in photos but nothing prepares you for the overwhelming majesty and beauty of the Taj Mahal when seen up close. The world’s most enduring symbol of love and India’s most celebrated architectural marvel is so striking it’s almost enough to blind you to the wretched condition of the Yamuna river, sluggishly winding itself around the back of the monument. Completed in 1653, this domed mausoleum flanked by four minarets was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his third wife Arjumand Bano Begum, or Mumtaz Mahal as she’s more commonly known. The central structure features over 28 types of precious and semi-precious stones dotting the semi-translucent marble. The Taj changes colour with the movement of the sun through the day, a wondrous sight said to depict the various moods of a woman. Visit in the early morning like the late Princess Diana did or in the late afternoon to witness this magnificent monument turn from pink to red and finally, to indigo. The Archaeological Survey of India allows night visits five times each month (including full moon nights) so ask your concierge to check for the opportunity.
 
Red Fort (Agra Fort)
The Red Fort (sometimes called the Agra Fort) was built over three generations and was the main military base for the Mughal emperors when Agra was their capital. During Shah Jahan’s rule it was painstakingly beautified and made a sumptuous palace, but that time of merriment was not to last—his son eventually betrayed him and imprisoned him here for his final years. It is said that Shah Jahan spent his time in a tower gazing across the Yamuna river at the Taj Mahal, yearning to return to his precious wife’s mausoleum. To this day the mighty red sandstone fortress remains surrounded by 65ft-high fortified walls, protecting countless beautiful structures like the Diwan-i-Khas and Nagina Masjid within its boundaries.
 
I’timad-ud-Daulah
Often described as a jewel box and sometimes called the Baby Taj, I’timad-ud-Daulah was actually built 25 years before the Taj Mahal and bears little resemblance to Mumtaz Mahal’s mausoleum, save for its construction in white marble.  Built by Mughal empress Nur Jahan to house her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg’s tomb, I’timad-ud-Daulah is at its most beautiful when sunlight filters through the intricately carved marble screens, casting stunning plays of light and shadow on the floor below.
 
OUTSIDE THE CITY
 
Tomb of Akbar the Great
The final resting place of the Mughal emperor Akbar can be found on the Delhi-Agra highway in a suburb of Agra called Sikandra, but don’t let the distance dissuade you from visiting, it’s well worth the drive. With what some call foresight and others deem ego, Akbar commissioned his own mausoleum while he was still very much alive. Work began five years before his death and was dutifully completed by his son Jahangir. Made from red sandstone featuring white marble accents, this tomb is yet another gorgeous example of the delicacy of Mughal artistry and the stunning geometric precision of their architecture.
Akbar’s Mausoleum is 10km northwest of Agra, alongside the main highway to Mathura at Sikandra. Open daily from sunrise to sunset.
 
Fatehpur Sikri
Walking around this fortified city is a beautiful but eerie experience—since being abandoned in 1585 after only 14 years of use, it’s been considered a ghost town. It took nearly two decades to build the capital of the erstwhile Mughal empire but Emperor Akbar was forced to forsake it due to water shortages. Today the complex houses glorious monuments and temples, including India’s largest and most famous mosque, Jama Masjid. The inner citadels, Hawa Mahal and Birbal Bhavan, are very well preserved, as they’ve been out of use for centuries. No final word on ghostly sightings but we recommend daytime visits.
Fatehpur Sikri is located 39km from Agra and is open from sunrise to sunset.
 


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