Famous worldwide as the ‘City of Taj Mahal’, this densely populated city is situated on the river banks of the Yamuna, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. This historically-significant city served as the capital of the illustrious Mughal Empire from 1556 AD to 1658 AD.
No wonder, this city is dotted with astounding number of magnificent historical monuments, grand royal palaces, and well-designed lush-green gardens. Owing to its architectural wonders and vibrant cultural heritage, this hot tourist destination draws thousands of visitors from all over the world, all year round.
We have listed for you the top 10 tourist hotspots of Agra which you should definitely visit to experience and revel in the grandeur of this historic city:
1. Taj Mahal
Listed as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’, this beautiful monument of eternal love was busilt in mid-17th century. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan erected this exquisite example of Mughal architecture in the loving memory of his deceased wife, Mumtaz. This glorious mausoleum houses the tombs of both the king and his queen. Made of white marble and decorated with semi-precious stones, colorful carvings, and lattice-work, its walls are covered with inscriptions of verses from the Quran. It is surrounded by landscaped gardens, trees with thick foliage, and fountains with crystal-clear water. Also, the top of the grand entrance has 22 small domes signifying the years it took to get it completed. Interestingly, this domed white beauty appears pink during early morning, white during the day, and golden in the moon light.
It is closed to visitors on Fridays and you will have to pay an entry free to visit this place. You can hire a tourist guide too. The living quarters surrounding this fairytale-like behemoth, provide basic amenities like drinking water, washrooms, and restrooms to visitors.
It’s the tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg and was erected by his daughter Noor Jahan, who was the wife of Mughal king Jehangir. Also known as, the Baby Taj, this 21-meter tall marble structure is considered as the draft of the Taj Mahal. The main structure is flanked by tall hexagonal towers situated at its corners. Its garden layout, walkways, marble edifices, stone-encrusted walls, and lattice work were replicated in the Taj Mahal, later, in a more grandiose and refined manner.
3. Agra Fort
This 16th century colossal fort was commissioned by the great Mughal ruler Akbar and is referred to as the ‘Red Fort of Agra’. This undamaged fortress covers approximately 94 acres of land and was constructed using red sandstone. It houses the Moti Masjid, the Shish Mahal, the Jehangir’s Palace, and large audience halls. There is a 30-ft wide and 33-ft deep moat which surrounds this magnificent fort complex from all sides.
4. Ram Bagh
Built by the first Mughal emperor Babar in the year 1528 AD, this is unarguably the oldest Mughal-era garden in the country. Originally named as Aram Bagh, meaning ‘Garden of Relaxation’, it was Babar’s favorite place for spending his leisure hours. It’s also the same place where he breathed his last breath. This garden remains unusually cool during summer due to its scientifically-designed pavilions and abundant greenery.
5. Mehtab Bagh
The Mughal king Babar also designed this beautiful garden. Also known as, the ‘Moonlight Garden’, this picturesque place occupies about 25 acres of land and is open to visitors until sunset. Surprisingly, it is strategically located opposite the Taj Mahal where visitors can enjoy free-of-cost full view of this beautiful marble mausoleum!
6. Akbar’s Tomb
The great ruler Akbar designed and commissioned his own tomb and this elegant structure is also known as Sikandra Mausoleum. The entire structure is built of red sandstone, has white marble inlay, and set amidst landscaped gardens. This massive tomb stands as a perfect example of fusion of different architectural styles namely Islamic, Hindu, and Jain. It also houses the tombs of the king’s daughters Aram Bano and Shakrul Nishah Begum.
7. Mariam’s Tomb
It’s the tomb of Queen Mariam, one of the wives of the famous Mughal ruler Akbar. This picturesque mausoleum lies on the premises of the Christian Missionary Society.
8. Mankameshwar Temple
Located in the old city of Agra, this ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It has a large silver coated Shivling which is frequented by devotees in large numbers, throughout the year. This magnificent structure is situated near Agra Fort and is bordered by numerous bustling marketplaces.
9. Jama Masjid
Fondly named as the Jami Masjid by local populace, this unique red mosque was erected by the emperor Shah Jahan in 1648 A.D. This huge mosque is made of red sandstone and is dedicated to Jahanara Begum, the king’s favorite daughter. This mosque has an unusually-shaped dome and there are no surrounding minarets. This impressive architectural marvel is located directly opposite Delhi Gate, in the center of the city.
10. Gurudwara Guru ka Taal
This place boasts of a gurudwara and a reservoir named ‘Guru Ka Taal’ and is one of the holy places for the Sikh community. You can revel in the beauty of various stone carvings and eight original stone towers present, here. It is believed that four Sikh Gurus have visited this reservoir. Interestingly, the reservoir was built in 1610 A.D. during the reign of Mughal king Jehangir whereas the gurudwara was erected in the year 1970.
Apart from these, there are other places of interest which are also worth a visit. The 70-acre wide Paliwal Park boasts of a small lake and is dotted with different varieties of trees. It is also houses the popular Agra Municipal Library, where you can spend go through its many rare books and journals. Another major attraction is the Sur Sarovar or Keetham Lake, which is a hot favorite with bird-watchers and nature lovers owing to its large population of myriad aquatic birds and plant-life. This area is part of the Surdas Reserved Forest and lies almost 7 km apart from Akbar’s Tomb.