Agra, the city of love, the home of the Taj Mahal, and part of our Golden Triangle Tour Agra India is not to be missed. Everything that has ever been conceived has probably been said or written about the Taj Mahal. The epitome of love, the passion of a grief-stricken emperor, the legacy of a nation to the whole world. It is said that experienced travelers, those who have already seen the Taj before, envy those who see it for the first time, because it is a feeling that they cannot savor again. The initial moments of your first encounter with this magnificent 17th century specimen of Muslim architecture in India will be more of disbelief and awe than anything else.
Agra forms a part of the legendary golden triangle of India which also includes Jaipur and New Delhi. But Agra is not only about the Taj. It is also about the whole experience of being there in the moment and savoring every bit of it. In this second part of the three part series on India’s golden triangle, we come to visit Agra.
Golden Triangle Tour Agra India – Some basic facts
Agra was once the capital of the mighty Mughal Empire and remained so for several decades before Shahjanabad (modern Delhi) assumed that position briefly and then finally with the control of the nation passing to the British, New Delhi became the capital of the sub-continent. It was from Agra that Mughals controlled their vast empire which at the height of their power, stretched from Afghanistan to Bangladesh, had control over 1/4th of humanity and 1.2 million square miles of territory.
The city of Agra, today, is part of the Agra constituency and is in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Agra experiences a semi-arid climate, it can be very humid in the summers and enjoys a mild winter. Rainfall is less than the national average. The best time to visit Agra, if you are not a photographer, is in the winter – from December to February. If you are a photographer try coming a little later so that you can enjoy clearer views of the Taj.
Golden Triangle Tour Agra India – Places to see
The 17th century mausoleum of Shah Jahan’s favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal apart, there are a number other archeological places of interest. Having played an integral part during the Mughal period, the city bears witness to a number of architectural exploits some of which still awes visitors.
The Agra Fort
As the empire’s capital you would expect the presence of a highly fortified and intimidating defensive structure and the Agra Fort is just what you would be looking for. Also known as the Red Fort of Agra, because of the Red Sandstone used to build it, it was built on an older fortified structure. Agra is commonly associated with the Lodi dynasty that preceded the Mughals in North India, and of course the Mughals after them. But the fact is that it has a much older presence. The city was known for more than a 1000 years and flourished even before the arrival of the Mughals.
The present fort was built by Emperor Akbar under whose patronage Agra became the seat of power. The red sandstone used was classic to the building style of Akbar while the later additions in white marble were in line to Shah Jahan’s love affair with that rock. It is this fort which housed the legendary peacock throne of Emperor Shah Jahan. It used to be adorned with precious jewels, chief among them being a certain Koh-I-Noor diamond. His seat of power and administration was also his final place of incarceration as the aging emperor was imprisoned for eight years by his own son, before finally breathing his last. An entire afternoon spent walking the alleyways, steps and courtyards of the fort is like taking a step back in time. Don’t forget to see the Taj Mahal from the parapets of the fort in late afternoon light.
The mortal remains of Akbar the great, widely considered the greatest of all Mughal rulers, rests at Sikandra. It is a pity, not too many visitors actually come here. But the ones who do experience a stunning example of Mughal architecture. Commissioned by Akbar himself during his lifetime, in keeping with the traditions, the structure is surrounded by acres of parks, a paved walkthrough leading up to the main mausoleum. The south gate is the largest and most ornamental and the usual point of entry to the complex. This gate is adorned with four minarets in white marble which are reminiscent of the minarets at the Taj Mahal. As a matter of fact local guides vouch that the idea for the Taj’s minarets had been taken from Akbar’s tomb.
Golden Triangle Tour Agra India – How to reach
Agra is well connected with the rest of the nation. Though the only problem is direct flights to and from connecting major cities. The newly constructed Yamuna Expressway is a six-lane access-controlled highway that connects New Delhi with Agra (a distance of 200Km) in just under 2.5 hours. If you prefer the relative comfort of train travel then the Bhopal Shatabdi leaves NDLS at 06:00 hrs and reaches Agra Cant (a distance of 195 KM) in 2 hrs. It gives you enough time to see the Taj Mahal the same day and also explore the Agra Fort later in the afternoon, before retiring for the night at Agra. A minimum of one night stay in Agra is recommended.
Golden Triangle Tour Agra India – Places to stay
Resplendent with such magnificent architectural examples from the Mughal period, it is no wonder that Agra is the most visited tourist destination in India both by local and foreign visitors. As such the city offers accommodation for all budgets. Right from the Oberoi Amarvilas (US$450 a night) to a homestay which you can book for less than US$30 a night.
For a more intimate look at day to day life in Agra, check out the video below.
The Golden Triangle Tour Agra India – By Rajib Mukherjee
This concludes our Golden Triangle Tour Agra India. We hope you find this information useful. If you are looking for a specific piece of information, please do comment below as we may have just forgotten to mention it.
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