Situated on the banks of the Yamuna River, Agra or the ‘City of the Taj’ has become one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world. Founded in 1475, this city has witnessed numerous rulers and the changes in history. In addition to housing one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Agra also houses some of the exquisite and imperial landmarks of history.
Be it the eternal history of this city, its colourful markets, other tourist attraction places or the indigenous marble workmanship, Agra sightseeing packages are the best ways to revisit history and essence of this imperial city.
Best Time to Visit: October to March
Distance From Major Ciites:
Delhi: 238 kms
Jaipur: 234 kms
Some of the amazing sightseeing places in Agra:
1) Taj Mahal
Considered to be the ultimate symbol of love, Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Set amidst the lavish and beautiful Persian gardens, this monument is located on the South banks of the river Yamuna. It took 22 years to build this fascinating monument which today serves as one of the most important Agra sightseeing packages along with being one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The construction of this mausoleum started in 1630 under the direction of the Persian architect Ustad Isa and it took 22000 workers, masons and jewellers to build this beautiful building. Apart from its eternal beauty Taj Mahal is also known for being a masterpiece of symmetry as each of its elements is placed with great finesse and care.
If seen carefully it can be noted that the verses of Quran have been inscribed on the walls of the building. There are 22 small domes at the top of the gate which signify the number of years it had taken to built it.
Taj Mahal can be clearly observed from the Agra Fort and it is believed that Emperor Shah Jahan spent the last years of his life overlooking Taj Mahal from the windows of the fort where he was kept prisoner by his son Aurangzeb. After the death of Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb erected his tomb next to that of Mumtaz Mahal in the main building of Taj Mahal.
2) Agra Fort
The Agra Fort is one of famous the world heritage sites of Agra, which is considered to be one of the top most place in Agra sightseeing packages. Although it is considered that the Agra Fort was built by Akbar in 1656, yet people believe that this fort was originally built before 1000 and was later renovated by Akbar.
This fort is built of superior quality red sandstone and was later converted into a palace during the reign of Shah Jahan, who extensively reworked this fort with marble and pieta Dura inlay in order to make it appear even more magnificent and attractive. Some of the famous buildings enclosed under the periphery of this fort are Diwan-e-Aam, Diwan-e-Khas, Jahangir’s Palace, Khas Mahal, Shish Mahal and Musamman Bur.
According to the quotient of the Agra Fort, it has a total perimeter of around 1.5 miles and has a crescent like shape which gradually flattens in the East with a narrow straight wall facing the Yamuna River. This fort can be considered a perfect example of the Northern style of Mughal architecture, emphasizing the difference it has with that of the Southern style of Mughal architecture.
Outside the fort there is a heroic equestrian statue of Chatrapati Shivaji, which is placed in order to commemorate the heroic escaping deed of the famous Maratha ruler who had visited this fort on the invitation of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb but was heavily insulted and was later confined to Jai Singh’s quarters. In order to save himself from execution or a lifetime in prison, Shivaji escaped on 17th August 1666.
3) Itmad-ud-Daulah's Tomb
Also known as the ‘Baby Taj’ the Itmad-ud-Daulah's Tomb is a famous Mughal building which was built by empress Nur Jahan as a mausoleum for her beloved father Mirza Ghiyas Beg, who was the Chief Minister of Emperor Jahangir.
The word Itmad-ud-Daulah stands for ‘pillar of the state’, which emphasizes the power and prestige of Mirza Ghiyas Beg and also to some extent stands as a landmark of Agra. This beautiful building was built between 1622 and 1628 on the left bank of Yamuna and is considered to be the source of inspiration for the architecture of Taj Mahal considering its similar garden layout, white marble, pieta Dura, inlay designs, latticework and many other elements.
The walls of the Itmad-ud-Daulah's Tomb are built of white marble with fine decorations done by using semi-precious stones such as cornelian, jasper, lapis lazuli, onyx, topaz, and others.
This mausoleum has four hexagonal towers placed on each of its sides and is 13 metres tall, which is considered to be quite small in comparison to the other Mughal era buildings. Although great care has been taken to make each of the elements of this building perfectly symmetrical, yet one element remains asymmetrical and it is the tombs of Nur Jahan’s mother and father which have been set side by side. This formation of setting of the tombs is again considered to be replicated in Taj Mahal.
It is believed that many of Nur Jahan’s relatives are also interred in this mausoleum. Owing to its great historical significance and architectural beauty this world heritage site forms an important part of the Agra sightseeing package.
4) Mehtab Bagh
This is one of those Agra sightseeing places that must not be missed. Referred to as Charbagh or the four gardens, Mehtab Bagh is an amalgamation of four square gardens that have been associated with Mughal and Persian styles of architecture. Usually, it is a part of most sightseeing packages as the bagh is located to the North of the Taj Mahal Complex and is actually a part of Agra Fort.
Nestled by sprawling greens, fountains and Yamuna River, this bagh is a quintessential example of Mughal grandeur and their practical style of architecture. The square garden has been designed in such a manner that it perfectly aligns with Taj Mahal, which is located on the opposite bank.
History suggests that the garden was the last of eleven gardens that Mughal rulers had built across the banks of the Yamuna. The garden was originally built by Emperor Babur and then Emperor Shah Jahan noticed this site and its shape, which gave him the idea of using this garden to view the construction and beauty of Taj Mahal.
Since Shah Jahan is widely referred to as a romantic, therefore, this garden was often known as ‘The Moonlit Pleasure Garden.’ The airy pavillions along with pools, fountains and plaster walkways made it a refreshing place of interest for rulers and people who lived in the Red Fort. Also, fruit trees gave it an exquisite touch.
The place was an integral part of the Taj complex and it was widely believed that this garden was a suggested location for black marble mausoleum for Shah Jahan, who wanted a twin to Taj Mahal. But this wasn’t possible as his son Aurangzeb had imprisoned him. A British archaeologist found remnants of an old pond and the black mausoleum on the site.
5) Kalakriti Cultural & Convention Centre
There is no better way of sightseeing in Agra other than enjoying its culture, life and heritage. Therefore, most of the sightseeing packages in the city are known for taking travellers for an event called Kalakriti International Convention, which is considered to be a must-see for all tourists. The centre, which has 585 seats and multilingual event options, allows travellers to learn more about the history and culture of this city in their own language.
The international centre is known for holding a number of events, including workshops, weddings, graduation ceremonies, conferences, product launches, exhibitions and management training programmes.
But it is best known for hosting concerts and other cultural events, where advanced lighting and special effect techniques are used for creating an astounding effect. A number of popular plays are performed here. Special college and school functions are held regularly. It also has a handicrafts showroom, where one can reflect upon the life and culture of Agra and understand its development in different trades, arts, handicrafts and looms.
6) Fatehpur Sikri
Along with being an important place for Agra sightseeing package Fatehpur Sikri is quite famous amongst general masses owing to its great historical lineage and importance. Founded in 1569 by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585.
It is believed that Akbar had built this city after his victories over the regions of Chittor and Ranthmabore in order to honour the Sufi Saint Salim Chishti. The new city was built in Sikri, a renowned place where Akbar’s grandfather the great Babur had defeated the majestic Rajput King Rana Sangha.
Originally this city was named as Fatehabad which indicated the victories of Akbar as the word Fatehabad literally means ‘the place of victory.’ Observing the architectural design and construction of Fatehpur Sikri, it is believed that the city was well planned and this belief gets positive reviews of contemporary historians who believe that Akbar took great interest in building this city and that he employed the best of his ministers to scrutinize its construction and overall planning.
As most of us know about Akbar and his court of Nine Jewels, it is considered that the above mentioned famed courtiers came to existence here in this city only. It was in Fatehpur Sikri where Akbar had started his new religion Din-i-Illahi and propagated it amongst his fellow citizens and followers. Akbar intended to convert this city into his headquarters and for the same reason he had built a fort here, but due to the paucity of water and the city’s close proximity with the Rajputana areas, he had to drop his idea and shift his capital to Lahore for a short while.
7) Octagonal Tower
One of the places often included in all Agra sightseeing packages is the Octagonal Tower. This impressive structure was built under the rule of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who is known for his elaborately detailed structures and buildings. Located in close proximity to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal, this Octagonal Tower forms one of the most pivotal parts of the massive Red Fort of Agra.
This exquisitely carved tower is the place where Emperor Shah Jahan spent the last seven years of his life. The tower had been constructed in such a manner that it provided the best views of Taj Mahal, which had been built for his wife.
Even though the Red Fort had been destroyed in places during British rule in India, yet the tower and its inlay works provide incredible ideas about how this building looked during its prime. The tower was actually the location where Shah Jahan’s son Emperor Aurangzeb had imprisoned him. To ensure that his father felt close to Mumtaz Mahal, one of his wives for whom Taj Mahal was built, Aurangzeb allowed him to stay in this room.
The tower has an open pavillion and has beautiful, delicate lattices of marble along with intricate details in ornamental stones, making it look stunning, royal and sophisticated. The chamber here has a marble dome and overlooks a veranda with a beautiful carved fountain in the middle. This tower is also known for offering subtle, panoramic views of River Yamuna. The arcade has netted windows and roofs for sunlight and features bulbous domes that have been long associated with the Mughal style of architecture.
8) Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid is one of the important spots in Agra sightseeing packages. This mosque was completed by the famous Sufi Saint Salim Chishti between 1571 and 1575. This mosque is believed to be constructed by the Mughal Emperor Akbar and due to this the Imams of this mosque are referred to as the Shahi Imams meaning Royal Imams.
The mosque complex comprises of a rectangular mosque, the Buland Darwaza and the Tomb of Salim Chishti. The phase of transition in Islamic art can be witnessed in the architecture and design of this mosque which involves the blend of Persian elements with indigenous ones.
The architecture of this monument being one of its kind attracts enthusiasts from all over the world to study the technique and use of elements in the designing of this mosque, thereby making this monument an indigenous part of the Agra sightseeing packages that one just cannot miss.