Never wondered if there is anything more than Taj Mahal to visit in Agra? To your surprise, there are a lot of attractions to visit in the city. Check out the best side trips from Taj Mahal – the next time it won’t just be all about Taj Mahal!
The history of Agra is rich and long. It has been the center of Mughals for over 130 years and during this period of Mughal Empire, several forts, mausoleums and monuments were built in the city apart from the Taj.
Once you visit the gigantic Agra Fort and the fascination city of Fatehpur Sikri, you will be engrossed in its architectural beauty and underlying history.
These are World Heritage Sites you must not miss visiting the next time you visit Agra. If you haven’t visited the place once, plan these side trips along with the center of attraction, Taj Mahal.
Stretched over an area of 2.5kms and encircled in the tall walls of 70m, Agra Fort is the magnificent red sandstone fortress located across the river bend from the Taj.
When first built in the 10th century, it was a brick structure and only when it was rebuilt by Emperor Akbar, the red sandstone structure boasts since last 450 years. The project under Akbar took eight years for selection.
There were five Mughal rulers who governed India from the fort, including Shah Jahan. He built the Taj Mahal and other complexes and building across the city with his favorite white marble.
Presently, several areas of the fort have ‘entry restricted boards’ like the passageways and underground rooms. Don’t you worry, the fort is huge and there is still a lot of things to explore.
Note: Visit the fort at dawn and carry a zoom lens camera to click some spectacular shots of the sunrise behind Taj Mahal.
Take a short walk from Agra Fort towards the North and you reach the overcrowded and bustling lanes of Kinari Bazaar. The area is replete with chaotic bazaars, colorful shops and you will find almost everything you need, right on the streets! From clothing, fabrics, shoes to spices, jewelry and snacks, Kinari Bazaar have got it all. Just imagine buffaloes, cows and the giant elephant trampling the way through crowds. Watch out your back mate!
Note: Look up at the wooden balconies above the shops while being cautious of the cattle of the road.
Most tourists taking a tour of India are aware that Agra has been the nation’s capital in the history but not many know that another capital city is only at a distance of 40 kilometers from Agra. We are talking about the city of Fatehpur Sikri. Today, an abandoned area, Fatehpur Sikri was once the Mughal Empire’s capital. Though short-lived, those 14 years under reign of Akbar led to this Indo-Islamic marvel.
AS it was settled in an area with water scarcity, the city was abandoned eventually after Akbar died. It is indeed a rewarding historic trip from Agra, well-connected through road. Drive to the place or board a public bus to cover the distance.
Note: Have some time in hand to wander in Fatehpur Bazaar located very close to the bus stand.
One of the seven scared cities of Hindus, Mathura is just a 90-minute ride from Agra. Though only 60 kilometers away, it seems to be in some other world altogether. The journey from the Islamic architectural monuments to the sacred Hindu temples is worth experiencing.
Popular being the birth place of Hindu god Lord Krishna, Mathura attracts a large number of pilgrims each year especially during festivals like Holi and Janamashtami. The place is dotted with innumerable temples and you can relax at the stretch of ghats along the Yamuna banks. Enjoy the evening Aarti at the ghats after witnessing the spectacular sunset.
Note: Go on a boat ride in the Yamuna River touring all the major ghats along the banks.
Pre-dated from Taj, Akbar’s Tomb is an impressive mausoleum located on the outskirts of the city. The structure was built in commemoration of the greatest Mughal emperor. The mausoleum is settled in the high walled courtyard – the five-tiered structure looks like a curtailed pyramid, blanketed by the low galleries stretching to a length of 100meters.
Akbar’s cenotaph is a fake burial casket like the one of Mumtaz Mahal in the Taj Mahal. The true tomb of Akbar is buried deep underneath the mausoleum in an underground chamber, beside his daughter’s tombs.