Welcome to my guide to Agra, the city after Delhi on the golden triangle tour. Agra is home to arguably one of the most beautiful attractions in the world and architectural hotspot to lots of other charms bequeathed by the legacy of the Mughal empire. With lots of tombs and mausoleums, there isn’t a dull moment in this hustling, dusty, boisterous, intense and entertaining city.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to see the Taj Mahal. I’ve always been fascinated by India’s history. I arrived, and overheard a tourist‚ “he built this palace for his wife, and I can’t even get a text back”. If you’re this funny traveller or have this sense of humour, I’d like to be your friend.
Right, let’s fly to Agra, together!
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Agra, India
Taj Mahal – this world wonder is more breathtaking than I anticipated. It’s utterly magical. I’ve been to my fair share of overhyped tourist attractions — this isn’t one of them. Located on the picturesque Yamuna River, it’s a snap-happy wonderland! Wear bright colours; the backdrop is a lush white marble. Prepare to be hassled like a celebrity, it’s flattering at first, but if you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to decline (politely!). Top tip, If you want: A) a decent photo without random body parts B) not to be elbowed, I would advise arriving super early! I appeared in the afternoon, and as a bizarre punishment, I got crushed. Don’t be me!
Mehtab Bagh – this is where you can get the best views of the Taj Mahal from across the Yamuna River. If you like your viewpoints, I thoroughly recommend a sunset visit. Perfectly aligned with the Taj Mahal on the opposite bank; these gardens were where the black Taj was supposed to be. I’m fascinated by the story of Mehtab Bagh, but I won’t give too much away – as a tour guide will be bursting to tell you. Get your archaeology hat on as you can still see the remains. Want a memorable photo? Hire a boat in the day during the non-monsoon season.
Musamman Burj – you have to see this place, it’s where Shah Jahan lived out his last years before he died. Our jaws dropped when we got there as it’s so beautiful. It’s an octagonal tower with poignant views to the Taj and Agra: an architectural goldmine, the lattices are carved in delicate, white and bright marble. There are heaps of snap-opportunities at this glorious monument.
Sikandra Fort – a hidden gem which is located about 13km away from Agra Fort. The disadvantaged locals are newly benefitting from this tourist attraction. It isn’t as popular as the more prominent attractions, yet so worth it. It’s the last resting place of Mughal emperor Akbar. His beautifully carved, red-ochre sandstone tomb is set amidst a lush garden and pays tribute to his love of arts, literature, philosophy and science.
Agra Fort – I wasn’t as impressed with this monument as the others, but it’s worth a visit. This strong Mughal red sandstone fortress manifests many fairytale-like palaces and mosques. High walls surround the area designed to keep invaders out. Beware of the cheeky monkeys running around!
India can be a bumpy experience when it comes to hopping between attractions. There will be hordes of keen rickshaw-wallahs, souvenir peddlers and unofficial touts & guides outside most attractions, whose persistence can be bothersome. A tour will make your journey a smoother experience, and they will pick you up from your hotel or hostel and take you back. If you’re a backpacker, I recommend here. For day tours hop over to here and here. For all-inclusive golden triangle tours which are hassle-free click here.
Around two to three nights in Agra is all you need. There’s not much to see in the city.
Vacay-ers – the best hotels will have a view of the Taj. Want five stars? This one is for you. Otherwise, this one is decently priced and has everything you need with a view. We stayed here, which has fun Indian craft activities and entertainment during peak season.
My friend did some research on best places to eat in Agra, and we saw good reviews for Pinch of Spice. It’s not the best for decor, but it’s cheap and ideal if you like your Indian food accompanied with other cuisines. I had a paneer curry with fried rice and prawn toast, which felt like a blessing as I had been eating only Indian food that week. The Thali at our hotel (Taj view) is tasty too; we ate on the roof terrace with a picturesque view of the Taj.
I hope you found this post useful. India has been on my bucket list since I was a little girl, and I’ve never been anywhere quite like it. Remember to come back for my ultimate guides to the beautiful Rajasthan and Jaipur! I’m always keen to hear about your travels so fling me a comment if you have anything to share or any Q’s!
For delayed and cancelled flight compensation go here. *AFF