top of page

The Tailor-Made Guide to 5 Attractions You Should Visit in Agra

Updated: Apr 13


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra

**Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Regardless of this, please be advised that all opinions expressed in this blog post are genuine and authentically my own.**

Author: Barry Pickard

Itmad-ud-Daula

Contents


Agra is a mesmerizing fusion of history, culture, and architectural splendour. Once the capital of the Mughal Empire, Agra is today renowned as being home to the iconic Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. But Agra's allure extends beyond this iconic monument. The city is a tapestry of captivating attractions, each whispering tales of a bygone era and showcasing the artistry of Mughal architecture.



Embark on a journey through time as you explore the majestic Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that once served as the seat of Mughal power. Admire the intricate carvings and serene courtyards of Akbar's Tomb, a monument dedicated to the Mughal emperor who laid the foundation for Agra's grandeur. Delve into the serene ambiance of Itmad-ud-Daula, a masterpiece of white marble often referred to as the "Baby Taj" for its resemblance to its larger counterpart.


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Taj Mahal

Agra is one of the three most popular tourist destinations in India, along with New Delhi and Jaipur. These three cities form a triangle on a map, which is why they are called the Golden Triangle. Tourists typically start their trip in New Delhi, the capital of India, then head south to Agra, then west to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Jaipur is known for its beautiful palaces, forts, and deserts. The Golden Triangle is a well-travelled route because it offers a good variety of experiences. Tourists can see historical monuments, experience different cultures, and enjoy the natural beauty of India.


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Agra Fort

Don’t forget that Tailor-Made Itineraries delights in creating bespoke self-guided tours. So, if visiting any of these attractions appeals to you, reach out to me by email. I would be more than happy to design a self-guided tour around your requirements incorporating the stunning attractions you should visit in Agra, or indeed, a general tour of India.



Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Jahangir Gate, Akbar's Tomb

Golden Triangle Hints and Tips Guide


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra


1. Taj Mahal: A Timeless Monument of Love


The Taj Mahal stands as an enduring symbol of love and architectural brilliance in Agra, India. Its white marble structure, adorned with intricate inlaid work, has captivated the world for centuries.


Taj Mahal Attractions You Should Visit in Agra

The Taj Mahal was commissioned by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Construction began in 1632 and employed over 20,000 artisans and laborers. The mausoleum was completed in 1643, while the surrounding complex, including the mosque, guest house, and gardens, was finished in 1653.



The Taj Mahal is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture, blending Islamic, Persian, and Indian styles. Its symmetrical design, intricate carvings, and delicate pietra dura work create a mesmerizing visual experience.


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Mehmaan Khana, Taj Mahal

The main attraction is the marble mausoleum, housing the cenotaphs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. The actual tombs are located beneath the cenotaphs, accessible to visitors through a side entrance.


Taj Mahal Attractions You Should Visit in Agra



The surrounding complex is equally impressive, with its serene gardens, reflecting pools, and red sandstone structures. The Charbagh gardens, divided into four quadrants, symbolize paradise in Islamic tradition. The mosque and guest house flank the mausoleum, adding to the architectural harmony of the complex.


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Mughal Gate, Taj Mahal

Tailor-Made Top Tips:


The Taj Mahal is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, so it can get crowded, especially during peak season (November to February). Aim to visit early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the crowds and capture the best light for photography. The site opens 30-minutes before sunrise and it was at this time, during August, when I visited. I was pleasantly surprised to find maybe only a hundred or so visitors at that point, which made it an ideal time to visit. The lighting was interesting for photography, and I didn’t have to struggle too much to get the best positions for my shots.



Make sure to book your tickets online through the Archaeological Survey of India website - click here. You can also pay at the entrance gate, but you will want to avoid the queues if possible. You will also notice, as with most attractions I visited, the entrance fee is different for locals and foreign visitors.


Note that the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays.



Make sure to book the 'Taj Mahal with Mausoleum' ticket (as opposed to only the 'Taj Mahal' ticket). This ticket will allow you to get inside the monument.


You can enter from the West or East gate, but you should note that the Taj East Gate road, has been shut off to general traffic for almost half a mile, so you will need to either walk this route or take one of the handful of electric cart shuttles or horse drawn carriages that weave their way back and forth to the entrance. You can exit only from the South gate.



The Taj Museum at the site only opens at 10:00 am, which may be a little too late for those who visit the mausoleum at the crack of dawn, so that is something to bear in mind.


Shoe covers need to be worn when accessing the mausoleum itself. There is a stall where they sell them for a small fee. I found that I visited a number of monuments that required shoe covers during my time in India, so it is a good idea to have your own stash.



After your visit to the Taj Mahal, venture into the tiny, crowded streets of the Tajganj area of Agra, directly south of the mausoleum (note, either walk or take an auto rickshaw in this area). Then seek out the Chia Taj View Café, for some amazing Indian food and an even better view of the Taj Mahal. You can either sit in the airconditioned lounge area or head up to the open-air terrace above.


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Chia Taj View Café

Golden Triangle Hints and Tips Guide


2. Taj Mahal Viewpoint ADA: Unveiling Panoramic Views


Nestled across the Yamuna River from the iconic Taj Mahal, the viewpoint offers a breathtaking perspective of this architectural marvel. This location provides an unobstructed view of the Taj Mahal's grandeur, allowing visitors to capture the monument's beauty against the backdrop of the city and the river.


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Taj Mahal Viewpoint ADA

The Taj Mahal unfolds before your eyes, its white marble façade gleaming under the sun. The intricate details of the mausoleum and the meandering Yamuna River create a mesmerizing panorama.


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Taj Mahal Viewpoint ADA

Tailor-Made Top Tips:


Similar to when visiting the Taj Mahal itself, aim to arrive for sunrise (the viewpoint is open from 6:00 am) or sunset. Not only will you get interesting views of mausoleum, you will also avoid most of the crowds. Since the viewpoint is relatively small, maybe only comfortably accommodating twenty people at a time, timing is essential.


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Taj Mahal Viewpoint ADA

Note that your transportation must terminate at the carpark on the western approach to the viewpoint. You then have to walk for almost half a mile or hire an auto rickshaw for a small fee.



The viewpoint is at the southern end of the Mehtab Bagh gardens and the two could be combined in the same visit. Known as the "Moonlight Garden," Mehtab Bagh, with its pathways, pools, and pavilions, offers a tranquil setting to admire the Taj Mahal from across the river. Unfortunately, the gardens were closed due to flooding (with my August trip coming at the end of the monsoon season!), so I was unable to experience this little oasis.



3. Agra Fort: A Bastion of Mughal Power and Splendour


Standing imposingly on the banks of the Yamuna River, the Agra Fort, also known as the Red Fort, epitomizes the might and architectural prowess of the Mughal era. This majestic fortress, built in red sandstone, served as the seat of Mughal power for nearly a century, witnessing the rise and fall of emperors and the splendour of their court.


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Agra Fort

Construction of the Agra Fort began in 1565 under the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar, and it was completed in 1573. The fort served as the primary residence of the Mughal emperors until 1638, when the capital was shifted to Delhi. Over the years, the fort witnessed numerous historical events, from the coronation of Mughal emperors to the imprisonment of their rivals.



The Agra Fort is a treasure trove of architectural marvels, showcasing the exquisite craftsmanship of the Mughal era. As you enter the fort through the imposing Amar Singh Gate, you'll be greeted by a series of courtyards, palaces, and mosques, each with a unique story to tell.


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Amar Singh Gate

The Jahangir's Palace, built by Akbar for his son Jahangir, is a masterpiece of pietra dura work, with intricate inlaid designs adorning its walls. The Diwan-i-Am was where the emperor met with his subjects and foreign dignitaries. The Diwan-i-Khas was reserved for more intimate gatherings. The Muthamman Burj, meanwhile, is where Shah Jahan spent his final years, gazing upon the Taj Mahal, the monument he had built for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Jahangir's Palace
Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Diwan-i-Am



Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Diwan-i-Khas
Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Muthamman Burj

Tailor-Made Top Tips:


A recurring tip for visiting Agra’s highlights is again to visit early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the crowds and enjoy a more peaceful experience.


Make sure to also buy your ticket online before arriving - click here. You can scan a QR code at the entrance and pay for your ticket, however, my experience was that internet connectivity was intermittent at best! Far easier to book online from your hotel the night before or in the week before visiting.



In the evenings, witness the captivating sound and light show that narrates the fort's history through a mesmerizing spectacle of light and sound. The show is currently not operating, so click here for updates on when it will restart.



There are a number of beautiful buildings and palaces within the fort, and it is difficult to know how you should visit them, so as not to miss anything. I found that by starting at the Jahangir Palace, then working northwards, you should get the best experience.



As with all popular attractions in India, there is a plentiful supply of guides looking to show you around. Ask their price, then haggle it down to half. If they don’t accept, there is almost certainly a number of others who will accept. The Agra Fort is one site that you would benefit greatly from having a guide. So many interesting stories to discover here.



Surprisingly, there isn’t a café or restaurant on site, so make sure to plan your lunch or dinner with this in mind. Also, make sure to take plenty of water with you.


If you are enjoying this list, remember and subscribe to my mailing list to receive my latest blog posts.



Golden Triangle Hints and Tips Guide


4. Itmad-ud-Daulah: A Jewel Box on the Banks of the Yamuna


On the banks of the Yamuna River in Agra, India, stands a gem of Mughal architecture, often referred to as the "Baby Taj" for its resemblance to its grander counterpart. Itmad-ud-Daulah, a mausoleum commissioned by Nur Jahan, the powerful wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir, is a testament to the exquisite craftsmanship and artistic sensibilities of the Mughal era.


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Itmad-ud-Daulah

Construction of Itmad-ud-Daulah began in 1622, serving as the final resting place of Nur Jahan's father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg, a Persian nobleman and minister in the Mughal court. The mausoleum was completed in 1628, just a few years before the construction of the Taj Mahal.


Itmad-ud-Daulah Attractions You Should Visit in Agra

The mausoleum's exterior is adorned with delicate floral motifs, geometric patterns, and verses from the Quran, all meticulously crafted using precious stones like jasper, agate, lapis lazuli, and carnelian.



The mausoleum is set amidst a serene garden, divided into four quadrants by pathways intersecting at a central pool. The garden's lush greenery and the tranquil flow of the Yamuna River provide a peaceful backdrop to the mausoleum's radiant beauty.




Tailor-Made Top Tips:


Pay attention to the interiors of Itmad-ud-Daulah, which is a marvel of pietra dura, a technique of inlaying semi-precious stones into marble to create intricate patterns and designs.


Itmad-ud-Daulah Attractions You Should Visit in Agra

Itmad-ud-Daulah Attractions You Should Visit in Agra

Itmad-ud-Daulah Attractions You Should Visit in Agra

This mausoleum seems to attract less attention from travellers, but I would still suggest buying your ticket online before arriving to ensure there are no issues with connectivity - click here.



Note that there is no café on site, but there are several street food sellers outside the entrance.



5. Akbar's Tomb: A Monument to a Great Mughal Emperor


On the outskirts of Agra amidst a lush green garden, lies the majestic tomb of Akbar, the third Mughal emperor. This grand monument, constructed in a unique blend of architectural styles, stands as a testament to the emperor's legacy and the artistic brilliance of the Mughal era.


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Akbar's Tomb

The construction of Akbar's Tomb commenced in 1605, under the reign of Akbar himself, and was completed in 1613. The tomb is situated in a vast walled enclosure and a series of gateways. The tomb itself is a blend of Hindu, Islamic, and Persian architectural styles, reflecting Akbar's embrace of diverse cultures and his vision of a unified empire.


Side tomb, within Akbar's Tomb

The tomb's main entrance is through a massive gate, flanked by four minarets. The complex also features a mosque and a caravanserai, reflecting its role as a place of worship and a resting place for travellers.


Attractions You Should Visit in Agra
Jahangir Gate, Akbar's Tomb

The interior of the tomb is a stark contrast to its imposing exterior. The walls are lined with white marble, creating a sense of tranquillity. The tomb chamber is located in the basement, where Akbar's cenotaph rests, surrounded by delicate jali screens and intricate carvings.



Tailor-Made Top Tips:


Akbar’s Tomb is housed in a vast site, so be prepared to spend a couple of hours here to enable you to see all the buildings.


Note that the site is often referred to as the Sikandra Fort or Sikandra Tomb.


Entry tickets can be purchased online - click here.



How to Get to Agra


By Air: There is a small domestic airport just outside the city, with direct flights from six Indian cities, including Jaipur and Mumbai.


By Rail: Agra is well integrated into the extensive Indian rail network, and there are regular departures to and from Delhi.




By Road: There are regular buses daily connecting Agra, including from Delhi and Jaipur. I also found it very economical to hire a driver while in India, with it taking around three and a half hours to drive between Delhi (the airport) and the Taj Mahal. I used the excellent services of Vivek at Just To Travels to organise this for me – website & email.



Getting Around Agra


Uber is an easy way of getting around Agra. Aircon is standard (don’t be scared to ask them to turn it up!), its comparatively cheap (if you are from Europe/America), and there is always one just a couple of minutes away.


For short journeys, the auto-rickshaws are a handy alternative, and an exciting experience that you need to have at least once on your trip.



If you have never driven in an Indian city before, do not even contemplate hiring a car. I am a very confident, experienced driver, who has driven in many countries over the years, but having travelled around India, I would never consider driving here. It takes a special set of skills to drive here which are only learned if you have grown up on these roads.



Where to Stay in Agra


I stayed at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Agra and found it very comfortable, with excellent service. Centrally located, with lovely restaurants and bar, it was an ideal base for my Agra exploration. and


Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Agra

Agra is a very popular tourist destination, so you will find a whole range of hotels for all pockets and tastes, with all the main global and Indian hotel brands well represented in the city, such as the Courtyard by Marriott Agra, the ITC Mughal, and The Oberoi Amarvilas Agra.


The Best Time to Visit Agra


Weatherwise, the best time to visit Agra is from September to February, however, this is when it is most popular. The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort get especially crowded at this time. I visited during August, when it was still very hot and humid, but if you can tolerate this, it can be a great time to explore the city without the hassles of too many tourists.



How Long Should You Stay in Agra?


You should stay at least two nights in Agra. That would give sufficient time to see the five attractions mentioned above. Agra can be a handy base for visiting the surrounding destinations, so you should consider staying an extra two or three nights. One destination that I can thoroughly recommend is the medieval city of Fatehpur Sikri, which is just under an hour’s drive away from Agra.



Conclusion


Agra is a city that captivates the senses and leaves an indelible mark on the soul. It is a place where history comes alive, where architecture inspires awe, and where culture enriches the spirit. Let Agra weave its magic on you and discover a city that will forever hold a special place in your memories.



Related Blog Posts


If you would like more information on the Golden Triangle or Rajasthan, please view the Tailor-Made Itineraries posts below:



Comment below and let us know what was your favourite place to visit in Agra (apart from the Taj Mahal!)?


Don’t forget that Tailor-Made Itineraries delights in creating bespoke self-guided tours. So, if visiting any of these attractions appeals to you, reach out to me by email. I would be more than happy to design a self-guided tour around your requirements incorporating the stunning attractions you should visit in Agra, or indeed, a general tour of India.


Join me next time on my adventures when I visit Jaipur. Tailor-Made Itineraries posts every two weeks, and you can subscribe to the latest blog and newsletter here. Until then, happy reading and safe travels.


Barry



Tailor-Made Itineraries creates one-of-a-kind bespoke self-guided travel itineraries for adventurous and curious travellers.


These self-guided tours deliver a personalised and exciting holiday experience that takes the effort out of trip planning.



Attractions You Should Visit in Agra

Attractions You Should Visit in Agra

1 comentario


msk_guide
09 ene

Greetings.

Pls use our Govt Approved tour guide service for Taj mahal, Agra & Jaipur