Top Agra: home to the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort

Agra is by far one of the most visited and unique tourist destinations in India.  Indeed being home to the world famous Taj Mahal and numerous other splendid heritage sites such as the Agra Fort, the city attracts millions of visitors each year, both from India and internationally.  With a great railway connection from the capital, many choose a quick day trip to visit the key sights, but a good couple of days is recommended to fully experienced everything the city has to offer, as well as the attractions located nearby such as Mathura and Fatehpur Sikri.  This grandiose city located within the northern part of the Uttar Pradesh state, is part of the golden triangle, along with New Delhi and Jaipur, and often considered the main places to visit for a first trip to India.   Agra, established in the 16th century was at the heart of the Mughal empire, today best remembered for their architectural legacy of fascinating forts, tombs and other majestic buildings.

Topics

  1. Introduction
  2. Map of Agra
  3. Taj Mahal in Agra
  4. Top sights in Agra
  5. Best hotels in Agra
  6. About Agra
  7. Agra travel

Map of Agra

View the top sights and hotels on our Agra interactive map with images and videos.

Launch the Agra online guide now.

Taj Mahal in Agra

The Taj Mahal proudly sitting next to the sacred Yamuna river is consider one of the 7 wonders of the modern world.  It is a breathtaking mausoleum built over 20 years, between 1631 and 1648, from beautiful and rare white marble.  It was constructed by the grandson of Akbar, Shah Jehan, one of the greatest Mughal emperors, as the mausoleum for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.  It is therefore, universally considered the monument to love. The name itself can be translated to Crown Palace

The Taj Mahal is today a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it is one of the most photographed and easily recognisable Indian attractions. It is considered one of the world’s best preserved and architecturally interesting tombs, putting India at the forefront of the top cultural destinations.

The Taj is conveniently located in the heart of town, and is best visited early in the morning or at dawn to fully appreciated the building changing colours.  It has three different entrances with the Western Gate being the most crowded, especially during the weekend.   It is recommended to use the eastern gates if possible where the counter opens at 6AM instead of 8AM.  The attraction is open daily from 6AM to 7:30PM except Friday, and the current entry costs is Rs 750 including the levy.  There is a self-guided audio tour for Rs. 100 worth taking.

The Taj Mahal mausoleum is Agra’s its most famous and popular sight and is often the unique reason to visit the city, therefore if you haven’t visit is yet, don’t wait no more.

Top sights in Agra

Agra as one of India’s most visited city, has a variety of attractions to offer its visitors including three UNESCO World Heritage. The Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort are by far the most popular sites within the city limits, and the Fatehpur Sikri is the favorite desination in the outskirt of Agra.

  1. Agra Heritage sites: Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri
  2. Agra tombs: Akbar’s tomb,  Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb, Mariam’s Tomb
  3. Agra gardens: Ram Bagh Gardens and Mehtab Bagh
  4. Agra religious sites: Jama Masjid

Some of the most sought after sights in Agra include in alphabetic order:

  1. Agra fort: the second most visited attraction in Agra.  This red sandstone palace and defensive structure is a remarkable piece of architecture, often considered a much better preserved version of the Delhi’s Red Fort.  It was built by the Emperor Akbar between 1565 and 1571 as a testament of his power.  The fort was later improve by Shah Jahan, the grand child of Akbar, but ironically ended up as a prisoner.  The entry cost is Rs 300 including a 5Rs levy and there are interesting audio guides available for an extra Rs 100.
  2. Akbar’s tomb: located in Sikandra, a couple of kilometres north of Agra, it is dedicated to one of the greatest Emperors.  The tomb complex is at the heart of beautiful garden and surrounded by four red sandstone gates
  3. Chini Ka Roza:  a memorial famous for its dome of blue glazed tiles dedicated to Allama Afzel Khal Mullah Shukrullah of Shiraz, the Prime Minister of Shah Jahan
  4. Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb: often referred to as the Baby Taj, it was built by the Empress Nur Jehan for her father the Chief Minister of Emperor Jahangir.  It uses white marble and is surrounded by a lovely white marble
  5. Jama Masjid: A large mosque built in 1648 during the reign of the father Shah Jahan famous for its unusual dome and absence of minarets
  6. Mariam’s Tomb:  a beautiful white marble grave, built by Jahangir for his mother Mariam Zammani.  Later Akbar constructed a school and a church in the memory of his Christian wife
  7. Mehtab Bagh: perhaps Agra’s most beautiful garden, strategically located on the opposite site of Taj Mahal from the river.  This remarkable botanical garden offers spectacular views of the Taj in a more secluded environment away from the tourist crowds.
  8. Ram Bagh Gardens: famous as the first Mughal gardens, built by the Mughal founder, the Babar Emperor and
  9. Taj Mahal: the most important touristic site of Agra. Learn more.
  10. Temples: Balkeshwar Temple (Lord Shiva), Kailash Temple, (Lord Shiva), Mankameshwar Temple,  Prithvinath Temple in Shahganj, Rajeshwar Temple in Rajpur Village, Shyam Ji Maharaj Temple in Bijlighar, Mahakal And Mahakali Temple on Sikandra Bodla road, Rawli Maharaj Temple

Best hotels in Agra

Agra has plenty of hotels to choose from, from budget accommodations to luxury 5 stars establishment.  The following are some of the best establishments in Agra as voted by the users, divided into 5 Stars, 4 Stars, 3 Stars and budget accommodations.

Click here to learn more about those hotels including a short description, address, image and booking linking with the cheapest possible rate.

Agra top 5 Stars hotels

The following are some of Agra most luxurious accommodations offering the highest level of service in idyllic surroundings:

  1. Oberoi Amarvilas, 5 Stars Hotel
  2. Trident Agra, 5 Stars Hotel
  3. The Gateway Fatehabad Road, 5 Stars Hotel
  4. Clarks Shiraz Agra, 5 Stars Hotel
  5. Wyndham Grand Agra, 5 Stars Hotel

Agra top 3 Stars hotels

The following are some of Agra best value for money 3 stars accommodations.

  1. Hotel Taj Resorts, 3 Stars hotel
  2. Hotel Amar, 3 Stars hotel

Agra top budget hotels

The following are some of Agra top hotels for more budget conscious travellers looking for a pleasant stay.

  1. Sai Home Stay, budget Bed & Breakfast
  2. Hotel Sidhartha, budget hotel
  3. Hotel Taj Plaza, budget hotel
  4. Taj Home Stay Hotel, budget hotel
  5. Hotel Deviram Palace, budget hotel

About Agra

Although Agra is home to some of the world’s most sought after attractions, the city itself might feel bit overwhelming, with its pollution, smog and litter, crazy traffic and overcrowded with numerous souvenir vendors, unofficial guides and touts.

About the Mughals

Most of the city heritage can be credited to the Mughals empire, which were considered some of the greatest builders of their time.  Babur was the first, who established the city and produce the Aram Bagh, known as the garden of relaxation or garden of paradise, as well as its own burial site.  Akbar, the grandson of Babur, was another great emperor, known for the fabulous Fatehpur Sikri city outside of Agra, today considered a World Heritage Site.  The second name of the city, Akbarabad, is also name after him.  Shah Jehan, the grandson of Akbar’s gave Agra its most famous sight, the Taj Mahal mausoleum, built in over 20 years with a beautiful and rare white marble.

Top facts about Agra

  1. Agra is also known as Akbarabad
  2. Agra sits on the sacred Yamuna River
  3. Agra’s earliest recorder reference was in the ancient epic of Mahabharata, and Ptolemy was the first person to call it by its modern name.
  4. Agra’s history goes back to the 11th century and over the next 500 years, the city changed hands between various kings, both Hindu and Muslim.
  5. Agra was established in 1526 by Babur as the capital of the Mughal empire and remained until 1658
  6. Agra lies on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India,
  7. Agra is located 200 kilometres (124 mi) south from New Delhi and 363 kilometres (226 mi) west of Lucknow state capital
  8. Agra has a population of 1,686,976 making it one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh
  9. Agra is the 20th most polluted city in India with the majority of the city’s sewage flows into the Yamuna River
  10. Agra has three UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri located nearby.

Agra travel

Agra is located some 200 km southeast of Delhi, the capital and one of the biggest international hub of the country.  As part of the Golden Triangle including Delhi and Jaipur, the city is well connected by rail, road and air, with other important Indian cities.

  1. Travel by air
  2. Travel by train
  3. Travel by road
  4. Get around Agra

Travel by air

The quickest way to get Agra is through the Agra’s Kheria Airport, with a seasonal service served by Kingfisher Airlines and Air India Regional.  The flights are mostly from Delhi, with a less than an hour journey time, but with often late arrivals and departure.

Travel by train

Agra is well service by the railway network, with up 20 daily available journeys from the capital, as well as many long distance  trip such as Delhi- Mumbai, Delhi-Chennai or Delhi Kolkata.  The city has numerous railway station with Agra Cantt consider the main one and the most convenient to access Agra’s favorite attractions including the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort.  A prepaid taxi stand will take you to your hotel within the city for a flat Rs150 charge.  The other railway stations in the city include the Agra Fort station, Raja Ki Mandi, Agra City and Idgah Station.

For a day trip from Delhi it is recommended to take the 6:15AM Bhopal Shatabdi from New Delhi Railway Station and return at 8:30PM with the comfort of a diner meal.

Travel by road

Being strategically located not far from Delhi and Jaipur, and with the recent highway available, taking the road is a good alternative.

There are a number of buses available daily from Delhi, usually taking about 4 hours, and arriving at the central Idgah Bus Stand, some 8 km from the Taj or at the interstate bus terminal, some 12 km from the Taj.

From Delhi there is a good road connection with the modern NH2highway.  Although only about 200 km is usually take up to 5 hours to get there including the heavy traffic on the outskirt of both cities.  From Jaipur there is the NH11 Highway the journey usually taking around 4 hours to do the 255 Km, passing by the Bharatpur known for its bird sanctuary.  From Gwalior, there is the NH3 Agra- Mumbai highway which the 120 km can be done in about 1.5 hours.  Finally from the state capital Lucknow or Kanpur, with the NH2 highway it takes respectively 2 hours for the 90 km journey and 5 hours for the 285km trip.

Get around Agra

The best way to get around Agra is by rickshaws or if the budget permit it by taxi or rented car.  For a day trip, it is suggested to start with the Taj as early as possible, followed by the Agra Fort and the Akbar’s tomb.  If you have more time on your had the Fatehpur Sikri, outside of the city, is definitely worth discovering.

You may book a taxi from the railway station  or you hotel, with government authorized taxi for about 950Rs for 12 hours, which could be a good deal for visiting the various sites.  The other alternative to book a taxi is online including sites such as ClearCarRental.com, savaari.com or GetMeCab.com.

Finally the most convenient but the most expansive way to navigate through Agra is by rented car (eCabs, Enterprises Car Rental and Hertz), at the exception of the area around the Taj Complex.

Leave a Reply