Agra is a city on the banks of the Yamuna river, situated in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is the twenty-third most populous city in India, with a population of over 1.6 million.
It is also known as the “Land of the Taj Mahal” as it is home to the Taj Mahal monument – which is the most popular tourist attractions in India and also one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Agra is a city with a rich history. It was a capital of the Mughal empire for many years, and consists of various Mughal monuments, gardens and other historically significant places. Here are some of the best places to see in Agra:
- Taj Mahal –The most popular monument t in Agra; a mausoleum built by fifth Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, as a mark of his love for her.
- Agra Fort – A red sandstone fort that served as emperor Akbar’s home during his reign; was also declared a UNESCO World heritage site. (also has many beautiful gardens, including Anguri Bagh – which are sprawling with greenery and still well maintained).
- Akbar's Tomb – A mausoleum to the third Mughal Emperor - Akbar, built in red sandstone, much like most other monuments in Agra.
- Sikandra Fort – A fort that houses Emperor Akbar’s tomb; Intricate white marble designs adorn the panels on the gates to the fort; however, the real tomb of Akbar is in a small underground room that has a very transcendent feel to it.
- Moti Masjid – A mosque built by fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan; (its name translates to “Pearl Mosque).
- Jodha Bai ka Rauza – The Palace of Emperor Akbar’s (Hindu) queen, Jodha Bai.
- Gurudwara Guru ka Taal – A sikh temple.
- Jama Masjid – A Mosque; One of the largest mosques in India.
Agra has some great museums that speak about the powerful Mughal dynasty and their contributions to the country. Following are some museums in Agra that showcase city's rich culture and heritage:
- The Taj Mahal Museum (The museum is an extended part of the Taj Mahal Complex that houses the records and plans of construction of the great mausoleum).
- The Spiritual museum (The museum is still in its early stage of development that houses many shapes, colors and forms that establishes various physical phenomena).
The major festivals celebrated in Agra include the following:
- Taj Mahotsav – A 10-day long festival celebrating the Taj Mahal monument that takes place from 18th - 27th February; includes dances plays and merriment. Ghazals (songs) and Mushaira (poetry) performances take place during this time, and add charm to the celebration.
- Kailash Fair & Festival – A festival dedicated to Lord Shiva, and taking place in August each year at Kailash temple that is 2km away from Agra city’s center.
- Navratri and Dussehra – A 10-day festival dedicated to Goddess Durga, celebrating the killing of Demon Mahishasura by her.
- Ram Baraat – A Hindu festival, celebrating the wedding of Lord Ram and Sita. This takes place just before Navaratri and Dussehra.
- Ramzan – A Muslim festival where people observe intermittent fasts and perform regular prayers for a month.
- Diwali – The festival of lights; celebrated in October-November.
Agra has been home to various artisans, jewellers, embroiders, carpet makers and weavers for centuries; most of who come here to showcase their precious talent to the emperor, and their lineage has been carried on in the city for all these years, making th city famous for its art work and shopping scene. Agra is one of the largest markets for embroidery and textiles, and also has various shops offering beautiful art pieces and souvenirs (like miniatures of the Taj Mahal). Here are some of the best shopping spots to check out in Agra:
- Sadar Bazaar
- Subhash Bazaar
- Kinari Bazaar
- Shah Market
- Raja ki Mandi
- Shahganj Bazaar
- TDI Mall
- Ashok Cosmos Mall
- Church Road Mall
- Saket Mall
- Rajan Mall
- Shanti Mall
Agra is famous for its Pethas – a jelly-like sweet made with white pumpkin and sugar syrup, and resembling translucent stones. Different flavours and colours are also added to these to improve the aesthetic – these are also called “Agra ke Pethe”.
Besides this, Agra is known for its Mughlai delicacies and north Indian street foods, such as:
- Dahi Bhalla
- Tandoori Chicken
…and many more!
Here are some of the best restaurants in Agra to try the aforementioned dishes and other dishes from various from cuisines across India and the world, with some local twists:
- The Grand Gopika Thaal
- The Taj Terrace
- The Salt Cafe Kitchen & Bar
- Taj Bano
- Bambino Cafe & Restaurant
- Pinch of Spice
- Good Vibes Cafe
- Jahanpanah Restaurant
Some of the best hotels in Agra for a comfortable stay include the following:
- Tajview IHCL Seleqtions
- Holiday Inn Agra MG Road
- Crystal Sarovar Premiere
- Aaram Bagh
- Chambal Paradise Resort
- Oberoi Amarvilas
- ITC Mughal
- Hotel Clarks Shiraz
- Courtyard by Marriott, Agra
Agra also offers some cool nightlife scenes. Here are some great pubs and bars in the city to explore:
- Liquid Lounge Bar
- Club Rush
- Mughal Bar
- The Bar
- Thor The Party World
Agra city STD Code – 0562 (to be used before dialling numbers from a number that is not locally registered).
- Police - 112
- Fire - 101
- Ambulance - 108 / 102
- Women helpline - 1090
- Child Helpline – 1098
Hindi and Urdu are the most spoken language in Agra but English is spoken as well.
- Welcome - svagat
- How are you? - Aap kaise hai?
- What's your name? - Aapka naam kya hai?
- I don't know - Mujhe nahi pata
- I don't understand - Mein samjha nahi
- Thank you - Dhanyavad
- Hello - asalam u alaikum
- How are you? - Aap kaise hai?
- Goodbye - khuda hafiz
- How old are you? – aap ki umr kya hai?
- Congratulations – mubarak ho
- What is this? – yeh kya hai?