Undoubtedly one of India’s most popular attractions, the Taj Mahal is a monument renowned across the world. Built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his deceased wife Mumtaz, it is emblematic of the emperor’s deep love for his wife and the grief he experienced at her passing. A landmark monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it took 21 years for the Taj Mahal to be constructed (1632-1652) with over 20,000 labourers working night and day.
Spread over a sprawling 94 acres, this massive red sandstone fort lies parallel to the Yamuna River and is situated 2 kilometres northwest of the Taj Mahal. Agra Fort is known for its majestic gates with the most impressive being the Delhi Gate and Lahore Gate. Another majestic gate is the Elephant Gate, which is situated between two red sandstone towers.
A garden built on the banks of Yamuna River, Mehtab Bagh was constructed by Emperor Babur and was the last of a series of 11 such gardens built along the east bank of the river. Mehtab Bagh was built as an integral part of the Taj complex as the gardens of the Taj are perfectly aligned with Mehtab Bagh, making it the best place to view the Taj from here. Mehtab Bagh provides also great photo opportunity for shutterbugs courtesy the views of the Taj Mahal that one can get from here.
Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary
Spread over an area of 7.97 square kilometres, it is a great place for a relaxed outing with your loved ones. More than 106 species of migratory birds come to Sur Sarovar every year. It is also the habitat for birds such as the little gerb, cattle egret, purple heron, darter, common teal and pintail, among others. The Sur Sarovar Lake is an ideal spot for a picnic with the kids.
The Taj Museum is one of the most popular museums in Agra and is visited by hundreds of tourists who wish to learn more about the history of the Taj Mahal. The museum, located inside Jal Mahal in the complex of the Taj Mahal, offers you an opportunity to look at the original drawings of the Taj, which help people understand the accuracy and precision that went into planning the structure.
Kalakriti Cultural Convention Centre
It offers visitors a chance to view intricate inlay work on marble. The key attraction of the Kalakriti Cultural and Convention Centre remains the popular musical drama, Mohabbat-the-Taj: The Saga of Love. It narrates the story of Taj Mahal.
Located inside the Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Keetham Lake is a peaceful spot, ideal for nature lovers and bird watchers. The depth of the lake alternates between 4 to 8 meters. The sanctuary of which the lake is a part is home to more than 106 species of migratory birds and the lake is a great place for bird watching. Some species that you can spot here are the spoonbill, egret, greying goose, purple heron, comb duck and pintail, to name a few.
Guru ka Tal
A Sikh pilgrimage of historical significance, Guru ka Tal was built in 1970 to honour the memory of the ninth Sikh guru, Guru Teg Bahadur. Located in Sikandra near Agra, the gurudwara is built on the location where Guru Teg Bahadur surrendered his arms before Aurangzeb. Constructed using red stone and bearing resemblance to other grand Mughal structures like Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, Guru ka Tal attracts many devotees who flock the site year after year to pay their respects to the Guru.
The Panch Mahal is a five storey building in Fatehpur Sikri. Renowned for its exceptional architecture, it is situated close to the harem or zenana quarters, which is fitting since it functioned as a pleasure palace. Built by Akbar, the architecture of Panch Mahal was inspired by that of a Buddhist temple. Akbar essentially used the Panch Mahal for his relaxation and entertainment.
Constructed in 1530 after Humayun ascended to power, Humayun’s mosque is one of the earliest monuments of the Mughal period. The mosque contains Persian inscriptions on it, which reveal that the construction was funded by Sheikh Zain Khawafi, a poet and a nobleman who was a close aid of Babur. This mosque was essentially built to cater to the religious needs of the Mughals and was named Kabul by the local residents. The mosque is built entirely out of brick masonry with white plaster over it. T In the vicinity of the mosque on the river bank is also Humayun’s astronomical observatory and a step well or baoli and a massive monolith.
Situated opposite the Agra Fort is the grand Jama Masjid, Agra’s most important and largest mosque. Commissioned by Shah Jahan in 1648, the mosque topped with red sandstone domes, is known for its beautiful architecture. Five large arches lead to the main prayer hall inside the Jama Masjid, which are skimmed by a beautiful bolster of sandstone adorned with floral motifs.
Inside the mosque, the mihrab is flanked by graceful strokes of verses from the Quran. Constructed using sandstone and marble, the Jama Masjid has airy courtyards and fountains. Beautiful floral patterns along with Persian inscriptions adorn the marble walls of the Masjid. These inscriptions are in praise of Shah Jahan and his favourite daughter, Jahanara Begum to whom the mosque is dedicated.
Built by Shah Jahan in 1637, Anguri Bagh is flanked by the Khas Mahal on its east and red sandstone walkways on its other three sides. As the name suggests, Anguri Bagh was known for its rich harvests of grapes and flowers and was also the central area of the zenana. The garden was meant to be a private area of relaxation for the royal ladies. It is made up of a concrete platform with a fountain in the middle. The garden is divided into various subdivisions with elaborate geometric patterns. To the northeast of Anguri Bagh are structures which were use as the royal bath houses or hamams and were extravagantly decorated with fine wall paintings.
Entirely columnar, Panch Mahal comprises of four floors constructed in decreasing size. The ground floor of the building is made up of 84 pillars that support the entire structure. Initially, the pillars had a jaali between them, which acted as purdah for the royal ladies as they sat on the terrace enjoying the breeze and the view of Fatehpur Sikri and nearby towns.