Taj Mahal

5 Things To Do In Agra

Agra in Uttar Pradesh, the home of the incandescent Taj Mahal, is a tourist’s favorite romantic retreat. The city with its abundant collection of magnificent heritage monuments from the Mughal Era has much history to tell. Every building that the city houses are a reflection of the grandeur the Monarchy lived in, their lifestyles, their love for each other and their brilliant ideas in design and architecture. With all these antique treasures, it is an amazing fact how Agra has strived at every step to preserve and showcase the legacies left behind by the erstwhile Rulers of ancient India.

There are several things Agra has to offer in your activities list while you are in the city:

1. Sight Seeing

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal Photo by skeeze, CC0 1.0

Sight-seeing takes up a large part of an Agra visit as it has many significant places to check out. The majestic Taj Mahal is among the first places that the tourists visit in the city. The magnificent white marble building flanked by its four towers is an epitome of beauty as it sits gloriously on the banks of the River Yamuna shining brightly under the sun. The best time to visit the Taj Mahal is either during sunrise when the first rays of the sun touch the monument or in the evening when the sun sets in a flash of glowing orange behind the silhouette of the monument. Other places to check out around the Taj Mahal area are Mehtab Bagh, Agra Fort, Itmad-ud-Daula and Akbar’s Tomb situated in Sikandara.

Fatehpur Sikri located at a distance of 35kms from Agra makes for a full day’s sight-seeing. The tiny fortified city graced by the magnificent Buland Darwaza (the entrance gate) holds several significant monuments like Jama Masjid, Tomb of Salim Chisti, Ibadat Khana, Panch Mahal and Diwan-e-khas. In addition to the Mughal monuments, Fatehpur Sikri is also an archeological site where ruins dating back to the Stone Age were unearthed.

2. Photography

Akbars Tomb

Akbar’s Tomb Photo by Varun Shiv Kapur, CC BY 2.0

Agra is a haven for photography enthusiasts, be it professional or amateurs. Carrying a powerful camera is an added advantage while you are in the city. The brilliant architecture of its monuments and the sheer beauty of the well-kept landscapes and gardens give you a world of opportunity to capture in your camera lenses. Be it the varying shades of white and grayish marble of the Taj Mahal or the rough-textured red sandstone of Jama Masjid, all the monuments in Agra are a delight to photograph. The beautiful backdrop of the sparkling River Yamuna coupled with the lush greenery of the various gardens in the natural lighting of the bright sun adds to the charm in every frame. The intricate geometric designs at Akbar’s Tomb, skillfully curved out on red sandstone infused with marble and colored gemstones makes for a good capture. So are the ornate pillars and the columns of latticework on marble studded with precious and semi-precious stones in the interiors of most of the monuments.

3. Shopping

Sadar Bazar

Sadar Bazar Photo by Siddhartha Shukla, CC BY-SA 2.0

Agra is dotted with several shopping malls. However, the favorite items in a tourist’s shopping list are the ethnic Indian and local handmade stuff for keepsakes from a memorable trip. The best place to shop from is the Sadar Bazaar near the Agra Cantonment Railway Station. The market is a conglomerate of small shops offering a wide range of handicrafts, garments and leather goods. The two main products that Agra has made a name for are marble artifacts and leather goods. The Agra Taj Leather World in the Sadar Bazaar is famous for its leather products like bags, belts, jackets and the very popular Agra shoes.

Kinari Bazar located behind Jama Masjid is a treasure trove of authentic Agra jewelry made of precious and semi-precious stone settings. Some other popular shopping places worth visiting are the Subhash Emporium, Kashmiri Bazar, Chatta Bazar for colorful garments and Shilpgram for local handicrafts. Most of the shops sell the miniature marble replica of the Taj Mahal which is a must take-away.

Tip: Be ready to bargain hard and buy the products at the best prices!

Market Timings – 11:00am to 11:00pm (Sadar Bazar is closed on Tuesdays)

4. Art & Culture

Agra has a rich culture deeply rooted to its Royal history. The city provides ample entertainment in the form of music and dance that showcases a large part of its vast history. The first place to visit in order to get an indelible experience is the Kalakriti Cultural & Convention Centre. The place promotes Agra’s beautiful art and culture through its music and dance performances. The daily dance drama depicting the love story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal is one that should not be missed. Witnessing the lyrical music coupled with the perfect rhythms of the Kathak Dance form makes for a lovely evening.

Agra also has many art galleries where one can browse through and buy different artifacts and handicrafts. The city is famous for its marble art and the local people from the villages are extremely skilled in marble carving. One can find huge displays of marble figurines, show-pieces, plates, vases and jewelry boxes curved out of marble and intricately decorated with colorful gemstones. The most popular Art Galleries in Agra are Agra Art Gallery in Munro Road, The Art Gallery, Gems & Art Gallery and Marble Art Palace in Fatehabad Road.

5. Fairs & Festivals

Agra is a culturally vibrant city that often comes alive with fairs and festivals throughout the year celebrated with great pomp and merriment. The biggest among them is the ten day Taj Mahotsav festival held every year in February at Shilpgram. The festival flags off in carnival-like style with a series of colorfully dressed-up elephants and camels, folk artists and musicians calling out to the crowd to join in. The days are marked by camaraderie of locals and tourists who throng the place to enjoy performances by the snake charmers, the monkey dance, camel and elephant rides for the kids while gorging on the scrumptious delicacies on offer at the food stalls. Evenings witness flashes of color as popular artists take the stage with lovely Ghazal songs and Mushairas among other performances. Local villagers display and sell their authentic handicrafts at the fair. Other festivals that are equally entertaining in Agra are the annual Ram Barat held around October and the religious Bateshwar Fair held in October every year.

The many facets of Agra resplendent with its Mughal influence make for a lovely experience. The charm and beauty that the city exudes stay in memory for a long time after a vacation in this ever so romantic city.