Even though I really wanted to visit Agra, this was the last city on my trip itinerary. I have to admit that as I was visiting India, I grew more and more impatient knowing that the famous Taj Mahal was waiting for me at the end of my trip.
Before my trip I had read a few articles about Agra and I found out that it was considered a very dirty city, but to be honest I didn’t expect it to be so dirty. For me it is almost unbelievable that the dirtiest city I have visited so far is the home of the imposing Taj Mahal.
Surprisingly, Agra or the Emperors’ City, as it is called, means more than this gorgeous monument. Beyond the poverty, the dirtiness and the chaos, Agra is a pleasant surprise when it comes to beautiful tourist attractions. Situated on the banks of the Yamuna River, the city of Agra shelters a few lovely places which really deserve to be visited:
1.The gorgeous Taj Mahal is definitely the most remarkable tourist attraction you can visit in Agra. This white marble monument is considered the jewel of the city and also a symbol of love. Behind its impressive architecture, the Taj Mahal hides an emotional story. It is said that Shah Jahan built this impressive monument to serve as the resting place of his beloved wife. Mumtaz Mahal died at only 38 years old, while she was giving birth to their 14th child.
Building this monument was a difficult process, but driven by his strong love and investing a lot of time and effort, Shah Jahan managed to finish one of the most remarkable buildings in the world. The elaborate architecture of the Taj Mahal is completed by a few gardens and green areas, which seem to place this edifice in a perfect scenery. In 1666, this oasis of peace became the resting place of its creator.
2.Situated along the Yamuna River, opposite the Taj Mahal, the Mehtab Bagh or the Moonlight Garden is a great place to go for a walk and admire the Taj Mahal. The Mehtab Bagh is laid out in a perfect symmetry and alignment with the Taj Mahal and it was built as an ideal place for admiring this gorgeous monument.
Built by the Emperor Babur in the early 1500s, the garden is embellished with beautiful white walkways, large water fountains and airy pavilions filled with colorful fruit trees. According to the legend this is the place where Shah Jahan wanted to build another monument similar to the Taj Mahal, to serve as his tomb. Unfortunately, he didn’t fulfill his wish and the Mehtab Bagh remained only an ideal place to admire the beautiful Taj Mahal. It is said that during sunrise and sunset, the Taj Mahal looks at its best.
3.The Agra Fort or the Red Fort of Agra is another beautiful place you should explore during your stay in this city. The Agra Fort was built by the Mogul Emperor Akbar in the 16th century, as a military strategic point and a royal residence. Made of red sandstone and built in a semicircular shape, this massive fort served as the seat of government and the stronghold of the Mogul Dynasty. This walled city shelters a few impressive palaces, mosques, halls and gardens built in both red sandstone and white marble.
Situated on the opposite bank of the Yamuna River, this is the place from where Shah Jahan enjoyed seeing the Taj Mahal for the last time. He was imprisoned here by his son Aurangzeb, who offered him the privilege of admiring his masterpiece every day. It is actually believed that Shah Jahan died in one of the towers of the fort while he was looking at the imposing Taj Mahal.
4.The tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daula (I’timad-Ud-Daulah), also called the Baby Taj Mahal, is the first tomb built in India and made entirely of white marble. This mausoleum was built by Nur Jahan to serve as the resting place of her father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg. Surrounded by four Persian gardens designed in a rectangular shape, this memorial combines both Persian and Indian architectural motifs. Octagonal towers, arched entrances, marble lattice screens, open-pillared dome pavilions are just a few of the elements of this fusion.
Even though the size of the tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daula cannot be compared to the one of the Taj Mahal, this mausoleum is considered a source of inspiration for the architect of the famous Taj Mahal. Embellished with flowers, trees and fruit, the central hall shelters the tombs of Mirza and his wife.
5.Built during the second half of the 16th century by the Emperor Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri is a deserted red sandstone city. Situated almost 40 kilometers away of Agra, this fortress was the capital of the Mogul Empire for about 10 years. Considered an architectural jewel, this complex consists of a few monuments, temples and mosques which are surrounded by beautiful gardens. The fusion between the red of the buildings and the green of the gardens creates a very nice combination of colors.
The city came to be known as Fatehpur Sikri or the City of Victory after Akbar’s victorious campaign in 1573. Even though this ancient city was originally built on the bank of a lake which doesn’t exist today, the place is not less beautiful and it really deserves to be visited. More than this, a mysterious vibe which can be felt inside the city seems to shroud the entire place in mystery.
All things considered, even though the gorgeous Taj Mahal is indeed the most beautiful place in Agra, it is not the only tourist attraction which deserves to be visited. Besides this masterpiece, Agra shelters a few other lovely places which really deserve to be on anyone’s trip list.