You must have heard about Taj, even if you have never been to India. This glorious monument of India has brought a lot of pride to our nation. There is a reason the Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, with people travelling miles to see it.
The beauty of the foundation is incredible and it has a captivating story behind it. There are tales that the Emperor planned to build an exact copy of the Taj on the other side of the river in black marble as his own tomb. However, he is buried within the Taj Mahal, sharing it forever with his late wife. In poetry, the Taj has been called ‘a tear drop on the cheek of eternity’.
Celebrities like Princess Diana, Leonardo Di Caprio , Mark Zuckerberg , Hilary Clinton , Julia Roberts , Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton have graced this monument with their presence and fell in love with its beauty the very moment.
Agra – Home to 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
After you have enjoyed the Taj, you must head to the following two places which are also recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
This mighty fort was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty. Located about 2.5 km northwest of its more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. The red sandstone structure is surrounded by chahar-bagh, a four-square formal garden. Within is the picture perfect Pearl Mosque, which is a major tourist attraction. It lies on the bend of the river Yamuna, almost in the heart of the town.
Fatehpur Sikri is 37 km west of Agra. Akbar, Humanyun’s son, accessed the throne at the tender age of 14. While hunting around Sikri his curiosity was aroused by the songs of some minstrels about the celebrated Khwaja -Mu’inu’d-din Chisti, the founder of the Chisti order of SUFIS.
Akbar, who was without a male heir heard about Saint Salim Chisti and visited him in the year 1568, the saint blessed him with 3 sons and in gratitude Akbar ordered the great mosque of Fatehpur Sikri, built under his supervision. As a mark of respect to the saint, Akbar shifted his capital to Fatehpur Sikri and built various secular buildings like the Diwan -I-Am, Diwan-I-Khas, Jodhabai palace, Birbal’s house, Marian’s house and the Panchmahal.
Explore Hidden Gems
After you have lived the wonders of architecture and the rich history of the 3 beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites, make some time to explore the hidden gems of the city.
Itmad-Ud-Ullah (Baby Taj)
The interiors of which are considered better than the Taj. One of the most beautiful Mughal tombs, it was built by NurJahan, the Empress of Jahangir for her father in 1628. The tomb is a resting place of the powerful personality in Mughal Court, Itmad-Ud-Daulah, whose life is very interesting. Formerly a very poor Persian merchant then named Mirza Ghiyas he became a minister and a trusted treasure in Akbar’s court. After Akbar’s death in 1605, his son Jahangir rose into power. Jahangir made Ghiyas his chief minister and honored him with the title of Itmad-Ud-Daulah, the Pillar of State. Later, Jahangir met a beautiful daughter of Ghiya named Mehr-Un-Nissa and married her. Mehr-Un-Nissa soon played a significant role in the Jahangir’s court and was called Nur Mahal, the light of the Place. The mausoleum is entirely made of white marble and graced with intricate decoration of inlay work, and marble-screen work belonging to the Islamic style. With its tranquil, small garden on the bank of Yamuna River, the tomb stands impressively elegant from a distance.
If you wish to have a different prospective of Taj or you want to jump the queue for Taj Mahal entry you can clearly see the Taj from across the river bank. One such place with a view to remember is Mehtab Bagh, the “Moonlight Garden”. This 25 acre Mughal garden complex is situated directly opposite the monument and was actually built before the Taj, by Emperor Babur (the founder of the Mughal Empire). It fell into ruin but has been beautifully reconstructed. The entry cost is 200 rupees for foreigners and 15 rupees for Indians, and it’s open until sunset. Alternatively, you can get a close-up view of the Taj Mahal for free by walking down the side road until you get to the river bank.
Where to Head When Hungry
While you are hogging to different monuments in the historic city, do not go hungry with this list of the best restaurants in Agra.
Pinch Of Spice
Good Vibes Café
Café Sheroes Hangout
Taj Bano – ITC Mughal
Peshawari – ITC Mughal
Bellevue – Oberoi Amarvilas
Home to historic mighty monuments , heaven for shopoholics with crazy options for local street food , Agra is a must visit city on every traveler’s list worldwide.