When you think of Agra, you think of the majestic Taj Mahal. A symbol of love, an object of devotion, this monument is one of the seven wonders of the worlds, and rightfully so. For years and years its gorgeousness has drawn tourists to Agra but its not just the Taj Mahal that contributes to the fame of this place. The legacy of the Mughal empire left behind a grand fort and a plethora of historically intriguing tombs and mausoleums along with culture and tradition spread throughout the local markets.
Agra is situated along the holy Yamuna River and is only a couple of hours drive from Delhi, the capital of India. Nestled in the north, this city brings out the deep rooted culture and olden day India in every part of it. Right from the typical rickshaws, small houses, immense greenery, it acts as a symbol of India back in the old days.
Overshadowed by the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort is often unexplored even though it’s one of the finest Mughal forts in the country. It was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty till 1638, when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi. This fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site and exploring its courtyards and numerous hideaways will have you immersed in the historical treasures of the dynasty. The Agra fort and the Taj Mahal are only 2km apart, both overlooking the river Yamuna on different parts of the bend.
As Rabindranath Tagore described it, “The Taj Mahal rises above the banks of the river like a solitary tear suspended on the cheek of time”. No matter how many pictures get taken, not a single one will ever be able to capture the true beauty and meaning of this wondrous structure. It’s beyond words, beyond imagination; even though I felt like I knew its value and amount of charm all my life, I realised that those were all just words when I saw it in person. The ornamental gardens, the glittering white marble and towering calligraphic pillars add to the name of this piece of art – no wonder it was treasured so greatly all along. The best time to visit the Taj Mahal is before sunrise, this is when there’s less crowd and undoubtedly the light of early morning falling upon the white marble is the best sight to behold.
Apart from the Agra Fort and The Taj Mahal, Akbar’s Mausoleum and Mehtab Bagh (a park) are definitely worth visiting. There are also many tombs that can be visited, for instance Akbar’s as well as the Lodhi tomb. For local shopping, Kinari Bazaar is the most ideal market with Indian clothes, jewellery, fabrics, spices and many more specialties that are really one of a kind.
Agra is a 3 and a 1/2 hours comfortable drive from Delhi and is thus convenient to reach. I recommend staying at The Oberoi Amarvillas during a trip to Agra since it completely does justice to the monument; from everywhere in the property, The Taj Mahal can be seen and it is only 600 metres from the monument. Moreover with the vastness of the Amarvillas property, the hospitality, its richness and luxury, it’s absolutely another world altogether.