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Agra Fort*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Amar Singh Gate, one of two entrances into Agra Fort
State Party  India
Type Cultural
Criteria iii
Reference 251
Region** South Asia
Inscription history
Inscription 1983  (7th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Agra, India. The fort is also known as Lal Qila, Fort Rouge and Red Fort of Agra. It is about 2.5 km northwest of its much more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. The fort can be more accurately described as a walled palatial city.

It is the most important fort in India. The great Mughals Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb lived here, and the country was governed from here. It contained the largest state treasury and mint. It was visited by foreign ambassadors, travelers and the highest dignitaries who participated in the making of history in India.

Contents

History

This was originally a brick fort and the Sikarwar Rajputs held it. It was mentioned for the first time in 1080 AD when a Ghaznavide force captured it. Sikandar Lodi (1487-1517) was the first Sultan of Delhi who shifted to Agra and lived in the fort. He governed the country from here and Agra assumed the importance of the 2nd capital. He died in the fort in 1517 and his son, Ibrahim Lodi, held it for nine years until he was defeated and killed at Panipat in 1526. Several palaces, wells and a mosque were built by him in the fort during his period.

After Panipat, Mughals captured the fort and a vast treasure - which included a diamond that was later named as the Koh-i-Noor diamond - was seized. Babur stayed in the fort in the palace of Ibrahim. He built a baoli (step well) in it. Humayun was crowned here in 1530. Humayun was defeated in Bilgram in 1540. Sher Shah held the fort for five years. The Mughals defeated the Afghans finally at Panipat in 1556.

Realizing the importance of its central situation, Akbar decided to make it his capital and arrived in Agra in 1558. His historian, Abdul Fazal, recorded that this was a brick fort known as 'Badalgarh' . It was in a ruined condition and Akbar had it rebuilt with red sandstone. Architects laid the foundation and it was built with bricks in the inner core with sandstone on external surfaces. Some 1,444,000 builders worked on it for eight years, completing it in 1573.

It was only during the reign of Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan, that the site finally took on its current state. The legend is that Shah Jahan built the beautiful Taj Mahal for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Unlike his grandfather, Shah Jahan tended to have buildings made from white marble, often inlaid with gold or semi-precious gems. He destroyed some of the earlier buildings inside the fort in order to make his own.

At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort, a punishment which might not seem so harsh, considering the luxury of the fort. It is rumored that Shah Jahan died in Muasamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony with an excellent view of the Taj Mahal.

This was also a site of one of the battles during the Indian rebellion of 1857, which caused the end of the British East India Company's rule in India, and led to a century of direct rule of India by Britain.

Layout

Inside the Musamman Burj, where Shah Jahan spent the last seven years of his life under house arrest by his son Aurangzeb.
Map of the fort.

The 94-acre (380,000 m2) fort has a semicircular plan, its chord lying parallel to the river. Its walls are seventy feet high. Double ramparts have massive circular bastions are regular intervals as also battlements, embrasures, machicolations and string courses. Four gates were provided on its four sides, one Khizri gate opening on to the river.

Two of the fort's gates are notable: the "Delhi Gate" and the "Lahore Gate." The Lahore Gate is also popularly also known as the Amar Singh Gate, for Amar Singh Rathore.

Decorated column.

The monumental Delhi Gate, which faces the city on the western side of the fort, is considered the grandest of the four gates and a masterpiece of Akbar's time. It was built circa 1568 both to enhance security and as the king's formal gate, and includes features related to both. It is embellished with inlay work in white marble, proof to the richness and power of the Great Mughals. A wooden drawbridge was used to cross the moat and reach the gate from the mainland; inside, an inner gateway called Hathi Pol ("Elephant Gate") - guarded by two life-sized stone elephants with their riders - added another layer of security. The drawbridge, slight ascent, and 90-degree turn between the outer and inner gates make the entrance impregnable. During a siege, attackers would employ elephants to crush a fort's gates. Without a level, straight run-up to gather speed, however, something prevented by this layout, elephants are ineffective.

Because the Indian military (the Parachute Brigade in particular) is still using the northern portion of the Agra Fort, the Delhi Gate cannot be used by the public. Tourists enter via the Lahore Gate, so named because it faces Lahore, now in Pakistan.

The site is very important in terms of architectural history. Abul Fazal recorded that five hundred buildings in the beautiful designs of Bengal and Gujarat were built in the fort. Some of them were demolished to make way for his white marble palaces. Most of the others were destroyed by the British between 1803 and 1862 for raising barracks. Hardly thirty Mughal buildings have survived on the south-eastern side, facing the river. Of these, the Delhi Gate and Akbar Gate and one palace - "Bengali Mahal" - are representative Akbari buildings.

Akbar Darwazza (Akbar Gate) was renamed Amar Singh Gate by the British. The gate is similar in design to the Delhi Gate. Both are built of red sandstone.

The Bengali Mahal is also built of red sandstone and is now split into Akbari Mahal and Jahangiri mahal.

Some of the most historically interesting mixing of Hindu and Islamic architecture are found here. In fact, some of the Islamic decorations feature haraam (forbidden) images of living creatures - dragons, elephants and birds, instead of the usual patterns and calligraphy seen in Islamic surface decoration.

Sites and Structures within Agra Fort

The Khas Mahal.
  • Anguri Bagh (Grape Garden)- 85 square, geometrically arranged gardens[1]
  • Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience) - was used to speak to the people and listen to petitioners and once housed the Peacock Throne
  • Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience) - was used to receive kings and dignitary, features black throne of Jehangir
  • Golden Pavilions - beautiful pavilions with roofs shaped like the roofs of Bengali huts
  • Jahangiri Mahal - built by Akbar for his son Jehangir
  • Khas Mahal - white marble palace, one of the best examples of painting on marble
  • Macchi Bhawan (Fish Enclosure) - grand enclosure for harem functions, once had pools and fountains
  • Mina Masjid (Heavenly Mosque) - private mosque used by mujahara
  • Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) - mosque built for use by members of royal court
  • Musamman Burj - a large, octagonal tower with a balcony facing the Taj Mahal
  • Nagina Masjid (Gem Mosque) - mosque designed for the ladies of the court
  • Naubat Khana (Drum House) - a place where the king's musicians played
  • Rang Mahal - where the king's wives and mistresses lived
  • Shahi Burj - Shah Jahan's private work area
  • Shah Jahani Mahal - Shah Jahan's first attempt at modification of the red sandstone palace
Shish Mahal's glass works
  • Sheesh Mahal or Shish Mahal (Mirror Palace) - royal dressing room featuring tiny mirror-like glass-mosaic decorations on the walls
  • Zenana Mina Bazaar (Ladies Bazaar) - right next to the balcony, where only female merchants sold wares

Other Notable Facts

  • The Agra Fort has won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in the year 2004.
  • India Post has issued a Stamp to commemorate this prestigious Aga Khan Award on 28.11.2004.
  • Agra Fort should not be confused with the much smaller Red Fort at Delhi. The Mughals never referred the Red Fort as a fort; rather, it was referred as the 'Lal Haveli', or the Red Bungalow. The Prime Minister of India addresses the nation from Red Fort at Delhi on August 15, India's Independence Day.
  • The Agra Fort plays a key role in the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Sign of the Four, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • The Agra Fort was featured in the music video for Habibi Da, a hit song of Egyptian pop star Hisham Abbas.
  • Shivaji came to Agra in 1666 as per the "Purandar Treaty" entered into with Mirza Raje Jaisingh to met Aurangzeb in the Diwan-i-Khas. In the audience he was deliberately placed behind men of lower rank, Insulted he stormed out of the imperial audience and was confined to Jai Sing's quarters on 12 May 1666. Fearing the dungeons and execution, in a famously sweet legend, he escaped on 17 August 1666. A heroic equestrian statue of Shivaji has been erected outside the fort.
  • In the second expansion pack for Age of Empires 3, the Asian Dynasties, Agra fort is one of five wonders for the Indian civilization to advance to the next age. Once built, it sends player a shipment of Gurkhas. This wonder acts as a Fortress, with an attack (though weaker than European versions, it can be uprgraded to be stronger) and the ability to train infantry, through upgrades a player can train cavalry units and artillery units there as well (unlike european versions).
  • In the game "Rise of Nations" the Red Fort can be built by players as a wonder. The Red Fort acts just like a normal castle/fortress/redoubt. But has the ability to heal troops garrisoned inside by 500%, and is also resistant to air attacks. Attack range is also longer, and certain unit upgrades are gained automatically, at no cost.

Visitor hours

Open from sunrise to sunset

Gallery

See also

External links

Notes

  1. ^ http://www.pratheep.com/agra.shtml

Sources

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Agra article)

From Wikitravel

The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal

Agra [1] is a city in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, some 200 km from the Indian capital city of Delhi.

Agra has the Taj Mahal, one of the most famous buildings and tourist destinations in the world, and two other UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Agra Fort in the city and Fatehpur Sikri nearby.

The city has little else though. Pollution, especially smog and litter, is rampant and travellers are pestered by swarms of touts and hawkers at every monument, mosque, temple or palace. That said, the sites are some of the wonders of the world and no trip to India is complete without at least one visit to the Taj.

Understand

History

The earliest reference to Agra is in the ancient epic, the Mahabharata, while Ptolemy was the first person to call it by its modern name. Modern Agra was founded by Sikandar Lodhi of the Lodhi dynasty, Delhi Sultanate, in the 16th century.

Agra reached its golden age when it served as the capital of the the Mughal rulers of India at the peak of their empire from 1526 to 1658. They built many monumental buildings in the Mughal architectural style (a distinctive mix of Indian and Islamic styles) and Agra has some of the finest examples. The Agra Fort, originally built by Rajput rulers of Agra, was rebuilt by the emperors Akbar and Shah Jahan, and it served as a model for the Red Fort in Delhi. The lovely tomb, Itmad-ud-Daulah (1628), built by empress Noor Jahan, is a wonderful mix of Persian and Indian architecture and ornamentation. Mughal architecture's crowning achievement, the Taj Mahal (1648) is the centerpiece of any visit to Agra.

Ironically, Agra's greatest builder, the Emperor Shah Jahan, was also responsible for the subsequent decline of the city. His decision to move the capital to the new city of Shahjahanabad in Delhi marked the beginning of the eclipse of Agra. Despite its importance as a military town during the days of the British Empire as well as in independent India, Agra lapsed into a second tier town on the banks of the Jamuna, and that is what it remains to this day.

Literature

Anyone interested in reading a novel based on the remarkable story behind the Taj Mahal's creation should consider Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors. Beneath a Marble Sky is an international bestseller, has won multiple awards, and is being made into a movie by Hollywood. Other book (historical fiction) is The Taj by Colin De Silva.

Get in

Agra is 200 km southeast from Delhi and is one of the points of the tourist's Golden Triangle of Agra-Delhi-Jaipur. Agra is also very well connected via rail and road with other nearby cities and tourist destinations.

By plane

Service to Agra's Kheria Airport (IATA: AGR ICAO: VIAG) is seasonal. As of November 2008, the city is served by Kingfisher Airlines and Air India Regional, who both fly on the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur tourist triangle route. The flight time to either is less than an hour.

By train

Agra is on the main train line between the Delhi-Mumbai (Bombay) and Delhi-Chennai routes, and many trains connect Agra with these cities every day. Some east-bound trains from Delhi also travel via Agra, so direct connections to points in Eastern India (including Kolkata) are also available. There are close to 20 trains to Delhi every day, and at least three or four to both Mumbai and Chennai. Agra and Delhi are notorious for their thick winter fog which reduces visibility to almost zero. If traveling in late December or early January (the fog season), travelers should be aware that, because of the reduced visibility, all trains slow down and travel time goes up. The Bhopal Shatabdi, for example, may arrive in Agra well after 10AM, and might return to Delhi well after midnight. There are three stations in Agra:

Stations

  • Agra Cantt (Station Code : AGC) is the main railway station and lies southwest of the Taj and Agra Fort, both of which are a short ride from the station by car, auto-rickshaw, or cycle rickshaw. There is a prepaid taxi stand right outside that charges a flat Rs 120 to any hotel in the city.The station has a pretty good Comesum food court that also sells cheap, hygienic takeaway snacks (sandwiches, samosas, etc).
  • Agra Fort station (Station Code : AF) near Agra Fort, is infrequently serviced by the interstate express trains. The station serves trains to the east (Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Kolkata) some of these trains also stop at Agra Cantt.
  • Raja Ki Mandi (Station Code : RKM) is a small station. Some of the trains which stop at Agra Cantt also stop here. The station has a laid-back and lazy atmosphere, but springs into life at the arrival of Intercity exp and Taj express.
  • Agra City is in the heart of Agra. A relic of the meter gauge era, this station is not particularly useful.

Lines

  • Delhi to Agra - Close to 20 trains connect Delhi and Agra each day with journey times varying from 2 hours to 5 hours. The best options are the Bhopal Shatabdi Express (departs New Delhi at 0615 arriving Agra Cantt at 0812; departs Agra Cantt at 2030 arriving New Delhi at 2230, daily except Friday) and the Taj Express (departs Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin at 0715 arriving Agra Cantt at 1007; departs Agra cantt at 1855 arriving Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin at 2200, daily).
  • Agra to Jaipur - The journey to Jaipur (Station Code : JP) takes around 4 hour by train no. 2988 which leaves Agra Fort Railway Station at 6:25 PM and reaches Jaipur at around 10:20PM.
  • The Luxury train - Palace on Wheels stops at Agra on its eight day round trip of tourist destinations in Rajasthan and Agra.

A Day's Excursion from Delhi to Agra

It is easy to visit Agra as a comfortable day trip by train from Delhi. Rise early in the morning and hop on to an AC chair car seat on the Bhopal Shatabdi (6:15AM) at New Delhi Railway Station (conveniently close to the backpacker hangout of Paharganj). Breakfast is served on the train (included in the fare), usually an omelet with a couple of slices of bread and coffee or tea. Arrive refreshed in Agra and, depending on your budget, either rent a car for the day or use rickshaws to get around. A visit to the Taj, followed by Agra Fort does not take a great deal of time. Add a visit to Akbar's tomb and/or itmad-ud-daulah (auto-rickshaw or taxi required), and you will still have time for a comfortable lunch and some r&r before catching the return train at 8:30PM where you can dine in the comfort of your seat (dinner is included in the fare). With a hired car, it is even possible for the hardy soul to swing by for a visit to Fatehpur Sikri for the complete Agra visit!

By bus

A number of buses connect Agra with Delhi. It takes around 4-5 hours to reach Agra by bus. There are basically three interstate bus stands:

  • Idgah Bus Stand is the primary bus stand for intercity travel, in the heart of the city, 8 km from the Taj.
  • Bijlighar Bus Stand (also called Powerhouse Bus Stand) located near the Red Fort, 6 km from the Taj.
  • New Bus Stand at transport nagar, 12 km from the Taj, is only for other state's bus services (i.e. all except U.P. Roadways).
  • From Delhi: NH2, a modern divided highway, connects the 200 km distance from Delhi to Agra. The drive is typically 4-5 hours, a large chunk of which includes navigating the clogged roads around Delhi to get to the highway. The primary access to the highway is along Mathura Road in Delhi but, if coming from South Delhi or Delhi Airport, it is easier to take Aurobindo Marg (Mehrauli Road) and then work up to NH2 via Tughlakabad. While the highway is divided, it is important to keep an eye out for trucks, cars, and bullock carts heading the wrong way!

It is possible to hire a car with a driver (a big car for five persons from/to the Delhi airport costs Rs 3500). But beware! If you need to get from Agra to the airport in order to catch a flight, be sure to allow plenty of time for the trip, as traffic conditions may increase the drive time significantly. Also, it is wise to know your driver. There are situations when he may take over five hours to cover the distance, and you cannot force him to drive any faster than an autorickshaw (tuk-tuk).

  • From Jaipur: National Highway 11, a two lane undivided highway, connects Agra with Jaipur via the bird sanctuary town of Bharatpur. The distance of around 255 Km can be covered in around 4 hours.
  • From Gwalior: A distance of around 120 km, takes around 1.5 hours on the National highway 3 (Agra- Mumbai Highway)
  • From Lucknow / Kanpur: NH2, the divided modern highway, continues on to Kanpur (285km, 5 hours) and from there to points East ending in Kolkata. From Kanpur, NH25 heads for the city of Lucknow (90 km, 2 hours).

Get around

Tongas, electric buses and electric tempos are readily available, and the best way to get to the Taj where no cars are sllowed. Auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws are available every where, remember to agree on fares clearly in advance.

The best way to experince the city is to take a walk on the Mall Road (Sadar). The street is full of handicraft and leather goods shops. You will also find plenty of food items quite unique to the city.

By car

Cars are not allowed near the Taj Complex, but the rest of Agra is easily discovered by car. Rental is available from the following companies, Enterprises Car Rental and Hertz.

You can either book a taxi from hotel or directly book one outside the railway station. There is government authorized taxi stand. 950Rs/day for 12 hours. It maybe more costy to book through hotel. It is better to negotiate with the driver directly

See

Agra's top two sights by far are the incomparable Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. When planning your sightseeing, take heed of the convoluted entry fee system: for Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Itmud-ad-Daulah, Sikandra and Fatehpur Sikri, you must pay a Rs 500 levy to the Agra Development Authority in addition to the prices mentioned below. Once paid, the levy is valid for all sights, but only for one day. However, If you are not going to the Taj Mahal or happen to turn up on a Friday, then you do not have to pay the Rs 500 levy but a smaller one if you are going to the other sites. Eg Rs 50 for Red Fort

The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal
Grand Entrance Building to the Taj Mahal Complex
Grand Entrance Building to the Taj Mahal Complex
Gate to the Taj Mahal Complex showing intricate work and Quranic passeges in Arabic
Gate to the Taj Mahal Complex showing intricate work and Quranic passeges in Arabic
Agra Fort, as seen from the Taj Mahal
Agra Fort, as seen from the Taj Mahal

Please note that the Taj Mahal is closed every Friday

The Taj Mahal is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife. Taj Mahal means Crown Palace; one of the wife's names was Mumtaz Mahal, Ornament of the Palace. The Taj is one of the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tombs in the world, one of the masterpieces of Indian Muslim architecture, and one of the great sites of the world's heritage.

The Taj Mahal has a life of its own that leaps out of marble, provided you understand that it is a monument of love. The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore called it a teardrop on the cheek of eternity, while the English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold, said it was Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor's love wrought in living stones. It is a celebration of woman built in marble and that is the way to appreciate it.

Although it is one of the most photographed edifices in the world and instantly recognisable, actually seeing it is awe-inspiring. Not everything is in the photos. The grounds of the complex include several other beautiful buildings, reflecting pools, and extensive ornamental gardens with flowering trees and bushes, and a small gift shop. The Taj framed by trees and reflected in a pool is amazing. Close up, large parts of the building are covered with inlaid stonework.

There is an apocryphal tale that Shah Jahan planned to build an exact copy out of black marble on the opposite side of the river. His plans were foiled by his son, who murdered three elder brothers and overthrew his father to acquire the throne. Shah Jahan is now buried alongside his wife in the Taj Mahal.

If you are taking a camera, beware that because the Taj is white your camera may underexpose your photos. If it is a film camera you will not find out until it is too late. Overexposure by 1 or 2 stops is recommended.

The Taj is open from 6 AM to 7:30 PM every day except Friday. Entry costs Rs 250 (plus levy of Rs 500) for foreigners and Rs 20 for Indians. Get there as early as possible to beat the crowds, and plan to visit the Taj at least two different times during the day (dusk and dawn are best) in order to experience the full effect of changing sunlight on the amazing building. It is also utterly stunning under a full moon.

The Taj is located pretty much in the middle of town. Expect a line to get into the grounds. There are three gates. The western gate is the main gate where most tourists enter. A large number of people turn up on weekends and public holidays and entry through the western gate may take hours. The southern and eastern gates are much less busy and should be tried on such days.

Security is tight, so leave behind any pocketknives, as well as chewing gum, cigarettes, or anything that could mark the building. Tripods are also not allowed. Strangely, even iPods and similar MP3 and music players are also not allowed. But you can leave them at a locker service available for tourists (of course, at your own risk). Cell phones are allowed inside the complex, providing they are on silent. Guidebooks are to be left at the booths on either side of the entrances. Do this before you get into the line to get in.

There are night viewing sessions on the nights of a full moon and the two days before and after (so five days in total). Exceptions are Fridays (the Muslim sabbath) and the month of Ramadan. Tickets must be purchased 24 hours in advance, starting at 10am, but do not always sell out, so it can be worth looking into it when you arrive even if well after 10am. Tickets only allow viewing from the red sandstone plaza at the south end of the complex, and only for a 1/2 hour window. Make sure to wear mosquito repellent.

Entering the palace within Agra Fort
Entering the palace within Agra Fort
The Taj and the Yamuna River from the ramparts of Agra Fort
The Taj and the Yamuna River from the ramparts of Agra Fort

The fort is similar in layout to the Red Fort in Delhi, but considerably better preserved, as much of Delhi Fort was razed by the British after the Mutiny. As much as palace as a defensive structure, it is also constructed mainly from red sandstone.

Emperor Akbar, king at 14, began consolidating his empire and, as an assertion of his power built the fort in Agra between 1565 and 1571, at the same time as Humayun's Tomb in Delhi. Emperor Shah Jahan added to the fort and ended up a prisoner in it. The fort has a beautiful view of his masterpiece, the Taj Mahal, on a clear day.

You can get to the fort by a cheap city shuttle bus from the north gate of the Taj or Rickshaw from Taj Mahal for around 25-30Rs. Entry to the fort is Rs 250 (plus levy of 50 Rupees if you have not already paid the 500Rs fee for Taj Mahal).

There are left luggage services at Agra Fort where you can stow your bags at no cost. A fine of Rs 5,000 applies if you lose your luggage ticket.

  • Swami Bagh, (10 km north of Agra). The white marble samadhi of the Radah Soami religion is currently under construction. It was started in 1904 and is nor expected to be completed until sometime next century. You can see pietra dura inlaid marblework actulally being worked on. Soami Bagh is 2km north of Agra and can be reached by bus or cycle.  edit
  • Ram Bagh. The first Mughal gardens, built by the first Mughal Emperor Babar, 500 m North of the Chini Ka Rauza. Ram Bagh Crossing.  edit
  • Mehtab Bagh, (directly across the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal, the trip takes about 30 minutes from the center of town by autorickshaw and will cost about Rs 200). These botanical gardens give you an opportunity to view the Taj at a remove from the crowds of tourists.. Alternatively, walk past the entrance and straight to the sandy banks of the river: the view of the Taj is every bit as lovely (perhaps more so, since the barbed wire fence surrounding the gardens will be behind you), although you may have to deal with aggressive touts. Entrance to the park is Rs 100 for foreigners.  edit
  • Balkeshwar Temple, (At Balkeshwar, at river side of Yamuna). A temple of Lord Shiva  edit
  • Kailash Temple, (at Sikandra, at the river Yamuna). A Lord Shiva Temple.  edit
  • Mankameshwar Temple, (At Rawatpara, near Agra Fort railway station.).  edit
  • Prithvinath Temple, (At Shahganj. On road to Jaypur.).  edit
  • Rajeshwar Temple, (At Village Rajpur. On road to Shamshabd.).  edit
  • Shyam Ji Maharaj Temple (At Bijlighar).  edit
  • Mahakal And Mahakali Temple, (At Sikandra railway crossing on Sikandra Bodla road).  edit
  • Rawli Maharaj Temple, (At Collectrate crossing, beside the railway track). Very old temple.  edit
  • Sikandra, (10 km north of Agra on the Agra Delhi highway). Open from sunrise to sunset. The tomb of Akbar lies here in the centre of the large garden. Akbar started its construction himself but it was completed by his son, Jehangir who significantly modified the original plans which accounts for the somewhat cluttered architectural lines of the tomb. Four red sandstone gates lead to the tomb complex: one is Muslim, one Hindu, one Christian, and one is Akbar's patent mixture.  edit
  • Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb. Empress Nur Jehan built Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb, sometimes called the Baby Taj, for her father, Ghias-ud-Din Beg, the Chief Minister of Emperor Jahangir. Small in comparison to many other Mughal-era tombs, it is sometimes described as a jewel box. Its garden layout and use of white marble, pietra dura, inlay designs and latticework presage many elements of the Taj Mahal.  edit
  • Mariam's Tomb, (West from Akbar's Tomb on Agra-Delhi highway). Constructed by Jahangir in the memory of his mother Mariam Zammani a title bestowed upon her,. The grave is made of white marble. Though this building is in a ruined condition, yet it has in its vicinity, a Christian Mission School and a church. It is also said; Akbar himself made that it in the memory of his Christian wife.  edit
  • Jama Masjid. A large mosque attributed to Princess Jahanara Begum, built in 1648 during the reign of the father Shah Jahan. Notable for its unusual dome and absence of minarets.  edit
  • Chini Ka Roza. A memorial dedicated to the Prime Minister of Shah Jahan, Allama Afzel Khal Mullah Shukrullah of Shiraz, notable for its dome of blue glazed tiles.  edit
  • Gurudwara Guru ka Taal, (at Delhi-Agra Highway, located between Transport Nagar and Sikandra), [2].  edit
  • Adlabs multiplex. Interactive Theatre, which is the first ever interactive cinema theatre in the world, each viewer holds a wireless remote unit with push buttons and a small LCD screen, enabling them to participate in a trivia game about the theme of the film. The show is called India in Motion, a 25 minute show where the audience will pass through today's India in, or on, a variety of typical vehicles and see the historical events at sites like Mohenjo Daro, Indraprastha and the Taj Mahal, experiencing the bumpy elephant rides with the wind blowing through their hair, or the swaying boat with salty spray on their faces. Before the actual show there is a interactive quiz on various topic relating to India. Rs 150 for a Hindi Show & Rs 450 for a show in English.  edit
  • Taj Mahotsav, [3]. 10 day festival held in February every year at Shilpgram, near the Taj Mahal. It start from 18th of every February and continues till 27th of February. It is a festival of art, craft, culture, etc.  edit

Buy

Agra has many shops selling various stone products, from jewellery to small boxes and plaques with inlay work resembling that on the Taj. The best of these are wonderful, and even the run-of-the-mill ones are rather pretty. Agra is also famous for its leather goods. Consider spending time in Sadar Bazaar for some shopping and enjoying cheap food.

Beware of being overcharged. Do not let anyone lead you to a shop, lest the price go up to cover their commission, typically 50%. Be very wary of the promises these people make. Bargain hard. Be prepared to walk away, you can nearly always get the same items in another shop. Also remember that in these globalized times, you can always order stuff you liked in your visit over the internet after you return.

Eat

Agra specialities are petha, a type of very sweet candy, and Dal Moth, a spicy lentil mix. Both are also popular souvenirs.

Chaat. Agra is a heaven for any Chaat lover. Chaat can be of various types but there is one thing common among them all is that they are spicy and you will find crowd outside virtually every chaat stall, especially popular places like Double Phatak (near Sikandra) for Mangores. You'll find quality Bhallas and Panipuri at Sadar and Belangunj. Samosa and Kachori are found at every sweet shop that flood the city. Some typical chaat items are Aloo Tikki (made by roasting mess made out of boiled potatoes), paneer tikka (cubes of cottage cheese baked in a tandoor with spices), pani puri or golguppa (small round hollow shells filled with a potato-based filling and a spicy sweet blend of sauces), mangores, Samosaes, Chachori etc. If you want to savour the typical Agra Breakfast do remember to have a bite of one of those spicy Berahi and round it off with sweet Jalebies.

Sweets. There are quite a few good sweets shops all round the city. The best stores for buying the famous petha of Agra are at Hari Parwat, a short ride from Agra Fort. Amongst the well-known stores are Panchi's , Bhimsain BaidyaNath and The Pracheen Petha store. There are many types of petha available but, for the authentic experience, try either the plain one (ivory white) or Angoori Flavored (rectangular and yellow pieces soaked in sugar syrup). Other stores in Agra include: Bikanervala, Deviram, Munnalal Petha, Gopaldas, and Ajanta Sweets, Kamla Nagar. Do remember to round off your meal with a Joda(Pair) of Pan unique to the city.

There are several restaurants in the Taj Ganj area, catering for the many tourists staying around the Taj Mahal.

  • Treat Restaurant, South Gate Taj Mahal, 9319697497 (). breakfast, lunch and dinner. 20-60 for main dish, great Indian food..  edit
  • Silk Route Restaurant, 18-A/7-B Fatehabad Road (Opposite Howard Park Plaza), 0562 4002786, [4].  edit
  • Only Restaurant, 0562-2364333 / 2266508, [5]. 600-800 for main dish of 2.  edit

Drink

Most hotel staff will be happy to find you a warm bottle of Indian beer for around 70-100 rs, but there is virtually no nightlife in Agra outside of cultural shows at some of the larger hotels and restaurants. After getting off the streets of Agra and into your hotel, you will not want to go back anyway.

Sleep

Budget

The main number of the budget hotels is situated around Taj-Mahal. From one point of view it is very convenient, but at the same time it is the most dirty district of the city (with monkeys on the roofs, rats inside the buildings and waiters who can not read and write). While choosing where to live, be very careful! In the most places there is no hot water (you will get it only by ordering beforehand). It is necessary to check everything, including the presence of bed-linen.

  • Dayal Lodge, 25 New Agra, Dayalbagh Road (Towards Dayalbagh), +91-9219606365, +91-562-2524560 (, fax: +91 562 2524560), [6]. checkin: 12 Noon; checkout: 12 Noon. Established in the early 60s, with 10 well furnished AC rooms/and Dormitories equipped with basic amenities. 24 Hrs. made-to-order kitchen, in-house laundry facilities, local airport/railway station transfers. Rs 450-750.  edit
  • Hotel Jaiwal, 3 Taj Road, Sadar Bazar, +91 562 2363153. Rs 75-325.  edit
  • Hotel Neel Kanth, Fatehabad Road, +91 562 2362039. Rs 100-00.  edit
  • Youth Hostel, Sanjay Place, M. G. Road, +91 562 2154462. Rs 50-125.  edit
  • Tourist Rest House, Balu Ganj,, +91 (562) 23514903. Recommended by Lonely Planet but will disappoint many travelers. Does not have hot water or AC vents, TVs do not work and staff can be surly. Be prepared to bargain hard for rooms. Rs 50-125.  edit
  • Saniya Palace, Chowk kajziyan, South Gate, Taj Ganj, +91 (0562) 3270199. Good budget hotel with some A/C rooms. 24 hr room service. Friendly staff & fantastic views of the Taj mahal from the roof top restaurant. "Not recommended" after last visit in which we pre-booked a room then on arrival late at night they had given our room away.  edit
  • Hotel Mandakini Villas, Fatehabad Road, Purani Mandi, Taj Ganj (Next to Western Gate of Taj Mahal), Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India, +91 5626453854, [7]. checkout: noon. 200 meters from the Taj Mahal's West Gate. It offers air-conditioned rooms each with cable TV with 100 channels, broadband Internet connection, private bathroom with cold water and direct-dial phone. You might get a little bit warmer than cold water by requesting it from the reception a few times. It is not possible to sleep without ear plugs in the first floor because of the noise coming from corridor and reception all night. Get a room from higher floors. Rates start at Rs 2,690.  edit
  • Laurie's Hotel, Mahatma Gandhi Road, +91 562 2364536 (fax: +91 562 2268045). An old colonial hotel from the British era (some say it hasn't been upgraded since!), Laurie's retains some of the charm of traveling in India in days of yore. Rooms with impossibly high ceilings (fans, no aircon), lead off from verandahs with nice lawns outside. A swimming pool from yesteryears graces the lawn (unfortunately closed in the winter). But you can get British era service with 'bed tea', excellent freshly made chicken curry and rice to order, and creaky plumbing. Some people will love it, others hate it, but you can't be indifferent to Laurie's!  edit
  • Hotel Raj. Directly in front of the central entry of the Taj Mahal, simple but clean. About Rs 200.  edit

Splurge

Thanks to heavy competition, Agra's five-star hotels are pretty good value compared to most other cities in India.

  • ITC Mughal, Taj Ganj, +91-562-4021700, [8]. Formerly the Sheraton Mughal, this is one of Agra's top hotels, with views of the Taj from the roof viewing pavilion. Large pool. The hotel's age is starting to show, but the rooms are in fine shape. Popular with tour groups Rooms from US$160.  edit
  • Oberoi Amarvilas, Taj East Gate Road, +91 (562) 2231515, [9]. The best (and most expensive) hotel in Agra. Its is consistently rated among the top 10 hotels in the world  edit
  • Trident Hilton, Fathebad Road, +91 (562) 2331818, [10]. Solid Hilton quality, but poor location. Outdoor pool, gym. Rooms from US$89..  edit

Contact

Agra comes under Uttar Pradesh (west) circle as per TRAI. BSNL [11],Airtel [12] are the two main providers of terrestrial telephone lines in Agra, while BNSL [13], AirTel [14], Vodafone [15] and Idea [16] provide GSM (triband) and Reliance [17] and Tata [18]provide CDMA services.

Internet

There are several internet cafes / Cyber Cafes from where you can access the internet for sending email or uploading your digital photos.

  • Reliance World[19] has broadband connectivity at many location across the city.
  • Sify Iway[20] also offers broadband connectivity at different locations spread all over the city.
Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri
Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri
Mosque in Fatehpur Sikri
Mosque in Fatehpur Sikri
Farehpur Sikri Complex
Farehpur Sikri Complex
  • Fatehpur Sikri is a UNESCO world heritage site. Built in the the 16th century by the Emperor Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri (the City of Victory) was the capital of the Mughal Empire for about 10 years. Then it was abandonded for reasons that are still something of a mystery. It includes one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid. In order to get a full idea of this site it is better to take a guide (Rs 300 for 2 hours for its chargeless entrance part) or have a good printed guide, otherwise it is not very interesting to see it. The entrance to the site (even to the yard) is only without shoes.
  • Mathura is the birth place of Lord Krishna. There are many beautiful temples in Mathura, including the one build at Shri Krishna's birth place.
  • Vrindavan is also a religious place around 50 km from Agra, and quite close to Mathura, there are many temples here devoted to lord Krishna, few of the more famous temples are Bakke Bihari & the Escon Temple (also known as 'Angrejo ka Mandir')
  • Nandgaon was the home of Shri Krishna`s foster father, Nand. On the top of the hill is the spacious temple of Nand Rai, built by the Hat ruler Roop Singh. The other temples here are dedicated to Narsingha, Gopinath, Nritya Gopal, Girdhari, Nand Nandan, and Yasodha Nandan, which is located half way up the hill. Nandgaon springs into action every year around March for the festival of Holi, when many a tourist flock the city for the famous "lath mar holi".
  • Bharatpur is about 56 km from Agra and houses the Famous bird sanctuary in which you can see thousands of rare birds including the Sibarian Crane. There is the Lohagarh Fort, which remained invincible despite several attacks by the British. Just 32 km from Bharatpur, is the Deeg Palace. This strong and massive fort was the summer resort of the rulers of Bharatpur and has many palaces and gardens.
  • National Chambal Sanctuary, (70 km away) is a natural sanctuary and the home of the endangered Indian gharial (a relative of the crocodile) and of the Ganges River Dolphin (also endangered). The Chambal Safari Lodge (Tel.: +91-94126 51921, Mobile: +91-9837415512, Email : rpsjarar@chambalsafari.com; Agra office: Jarar House, Mathura Road, Agra 282 002, Tel.: +91-562-5534205) is the only place to stay and they can arrange yourit to the sanctuary. Take a cruise on the river, ride a jeep in the ravines, go for a camel ride along the sandy beaches, walk through sunlit fields or just laze around under the sun. End the day looking up a starlit sky basking in the warmth of old-world hospitality.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

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