Accommodation in Agra

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Exploring Agra

Set 80 kilometres from India’s capital of New Delhi, Agra lies on the banks of the Yamuna River in Uttar Pradesh and is world-famous for the Taj Mahal, the magnificent memorial to the love of Shah Jahan for his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal. The monument is now a UNESCO World Heritage site along with Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, and many other landmarks and tombs celebrate the city’s golden days as the hub of the Mughal Empire.

Agra is a city of temples and gardens, famous for their inlaid stonework and elaborate tombs, many of which lie within easy reach of the city’s upscale hotels such as the Oberoi Amarvilas Agra. Traditional bazaars sell everything from souvenirs to jewels, although the latter are expensive and may not be genuine. There’s good choice of lodgings at all levels, with some set in imposing colonial buildings dating from the great days of the British Raj.

Sights nearby

Agra is a delight for visitors interested in Mughal architecture, with the world’s most famous example, the romantic Taj Mahal, drawing millions of visitors annually. The great palace forts of the city’s former rulers are spectacular and the city’s gardens are exquisite.

Taj Mahal
One of the world’s loveliest buildings, the Taj Mahal, lends an ethereal aura to this city with its white marble splendour. Built between 1631 and 1648 as a mausoleum for Shah Jahan’s beloved wife, it’s a masterpiece of Indian architecture, a fact which is eerily reflected in a vast pool of sparkling water out front. The complex on which it stands is home to other lovely buildings, mosques, and lush ornamental gardens landscaped around small lakes. The grief-stricken Shah was buried in a tomb alongside his wife after he was overthrown by his son.

Fatehpur Sikri
The golden age of the Mughal Empire saw the construction of gardens, vast palaces, mosques, and even entire cities. Such is Fatehpur Sikri, located on the outskirts of Agra and raised by Shah Akbar, the third Mughal emperor, in the form of a Mughal military camp. Nowadays, it’s revered as one of the finest collections of Mughal architecture in the whole of India.

Agra Fort
Agra Fort bears similarities to Delhi’s Red Fort, mostly demolished after the Indian mutiny by the British colonial rulers. The fort combines its defensive structure with a palace and was commissioned in the mid-16th century by Emperor Akbar and added to by Shah Jahan, who was imprisoned here after his overthrow. Overlooking the flat river plain, the complex has a fine view of the Taj Mahal.

Sikandra
Set just over six miles from Agra, Sikandra’s glorious gardens hold the tomb of Shah Akbar, constructed of marble inlaid with a riot of colourful tiles in rich patterns. Four red sandstone gates give entry to the mausoleum, dedicated singly to the Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian faiths, with the fourth commemorating Shah Akbar’s own combination of all three religions.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

The cuisine of the region is still influenced by Mughal gastronomy and is varied and delicious. Many dishes are redolent of Punjabi and Kashmiri culinary traditions, and vegetarians are spoiled for choice in Agra’s many restaurants. Kebabs, dum biryani with its fruits, and the famous chaat snacks are all on offer everywhere from market street stalls to upscale restaurants at venues such as the Trident Hotel Agra. To try the tasty local specialties, head for the Sadar Bazaar or the Cantonment district, and fine dining on authentic Mughal cuisine is had at five-star hotels such as the ITC Mughal Agra. For souvenirs, leather goods, and inlaid stone wares make fine reminders of your visit, and the elaborate Indian gold jewellery in Sadar Market is great for a special treat.

Public transport

Seasonal domestic flights run to Agra’s airport from Delhi, with out-of-season public transport limited to buses, taxis, and rail services from Delhi or Mumbai. Once in the city, auto or cycle rickshaws, electric buses, and air-conditioned taxis are the most practical ways to get around. Self-drive via hire car is possible but not recommended due to the state of the roads, the traffic, and the numerous sacred cows sharing the highway with vehicles.