Known worldwide as the ‘City of Taj Mahal’, this vibrant bustling city is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh. With its numerous captivating monuments, landscaped gardens, magnificent palaces, and mouth-watering cuisine, this old capital of Mughal Empire attracts thousands of tourists from in India and abroad, throughout the year. You can go sightseeing, buy memorabilia, savor authentic Mughlai dishes, and enjoy the cultural grandeur of this city.To make your stay in Agra enjoyable, unforgettable, and worth your money, we have listed down 4 must-do activities you should definitely include in your travel-itinerary:
1. Explore and marvel at the historical landmarks and gardens!
The first monument that a traveler visits is the resplendent white-marble beauty, the Taj Mahal. Emperor Shah Jahan built this picturesque landmark in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. This mausoleum houses the buried remains of both, the king and his queen. Visitors are required to cover their footwear with cloth-made covers before climbing the platform stairs to enter the main structure. Apart from this domed monument with its marble inlays and stone-encrusted walls, there is a museum within the compound where you can have a look at Mughal-era paintings, coins, and decorative items on display. Interestingly you can enjoy the sight of the Taj Mahal from well-maintained and beautifully landscaped Mehtab Bagh which lies directly opposite this place, free of cost. The city of Agra is full of artistic tombs of various Muslim rulers and royal dignitaries of Mughal period, such as, Akbar’s tomb, Itimad-Ud-Daulah, and Mariam’s tomb.
Another major visit-worthy site of this city is the Agra Fort. This fort-complex is the home to the unique Shish Mahal and also contains the pillared and ornately-decorated Deewan-e-Aam or Hall of Audience.
2. Shop Until You Drop!
This global tourist destination is famous for items with its marble-inlay work, leather goods, silk apparels displaying Mughal motifs, and ornaments encrusted with semi-precious stones. You can also buy replicas of the Taj Mahal in varying sizes. The best places to shop for handicrafts and other items of your choice are the Kinari Bazaar, Sadar Bazaar, Gwalior Road, and Munro Road. You can even do bargained-shopping here. Also, the state government has set up several emporia which offer quite an impressive range of mementos, traditional items, and handicrafts at fixed cost. Make sure you keep your wallet and credit cards safe from thieves and louts. You should also opt out of having your purchases shipped later by the seller!
3. Feast on The Local Cuisine!
If you’re a foodie, then you will definitely fall in love with the local cuisine of this quintessential old city. It is home to the world-renowned and much-loved Mughlai cuisine which includes fresh tandoori rotis, tawa-fry naans, spicy kebabs, delicious biryani, and lip-smacking curries. What’s more, some of the dishes are flavored with saffron and dry fruits, too. We suggest you to sample the daal moth which is the local favorite snack, here. If you’re craving for sweet delicacies, then you must buy and savor the amazing local specialty called Petha.
4. Attend Local Religious Festivals and Cultural Events!
Agra is the venue for the internationally-acclaimed annual cultural fest, the Taj Mahotsav. This 10-day long gala event is held in February and March where hundreds of artists of national and international repute take part. If you happen to travel to Agra during the month of October then you can attend the dance-cum-music festival, the Sharadotsav which is held at Agra fort and neighboring Fatehpur Sikri. Also, three major Hindu festivals are celebrated in this city with much fanfare and gaiety, during the period of September, October, and November. These are Kailash fair, Ram Baraat, and Bateswar fair.
If you’re an animal lover, a humanitarian, or both, then you should surely checkout Wildlife S.O.S centers and ‘Sheroes’ Hangout’. Wildlife S.O.S, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to the rescue, care, and rehabilitation of mainly captive and abused Indian sloth bears and elephants. Set up in 2014, Sheroes’ Hangout is one-of-its-kind café-cum-eatery where all the staff members are women survivors of acid attacks. This place is the brainchild of a Delhi-based NGO called Stop Acid Attacks which aims to spread awareness as well as empower these victims of brutal acid attacks. The scrumptious snacks, flavorsome beverages, colorful décor, and in-shop library of this place will definitely delight you!