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More Than Just The Taj: The City Of Mughals, Agra

Let’s save the best (and the most obvious) for the last and steer clear of clichés like iconic and beauty in white. Agra is home to a Wonder of the World but there are more hidden and known treasures that are waiting to be explored and cherished. From monuments, local delicacies to shopping delights, the historical city of Agra can make you fall in love and that is not just because the world’s most renowned symbol of love is located here…but more on that later. For now let’s head to a city that has something for everybody be it shopaholics, foodies or history buffs.

Five Monuments (Other Than Taj) To Visit In Agra

Five Monuments (Other Than Taj) To Visit In Agra

Mughals were known to be builders and Agra is home to some of the best monuments built during peak of Mughal dominance. The city of Mughals has many monuments of architectural beauty and splendour that adorn its landscape. Here are five must visit monuments in Agra, other than the Taj:

Agra Fort: Main residence of Mughals till the capital shifted from Agra to Delhi
Fatehpur Sikri: A masterpiece of Indo-Islamic architecture, founded by Mughal emperor Akbar
Itimad-ud-Daulah: A ‘Jewel Box’ known as Baby Taj
Chini Ka Rouza – Tomb of a scholar, poet and Prime Minister
Domeless Tomb of Mariam-uz-Zamani: Tomb of Jodha Bai, wife of Akbar

Eat Like A Local: Three Must Have Delicacies In Agra

Eat Like A Local: Three Must Have Delicacies In Agra

Discovering Agra, also means hitting a food trail that ranges from ‘Agra ka petha’, a translucent soft candy to Mughlai cuisine that covers the entire range of boti kebabs, pasanda, korma, biryani and other delectable treats, food in Agra is bound to tickle your taste buds. Here are three delicacies of our choice that can be found anywhere in Agra from local restaurants to top notch dine ins.

Agra City Guide | Hilton Destinations - Explore Agra, Delhi, Jaipur

Petha: A trip to Agra is incomplete without tasting the wide variety of petha - a translucent soft candy, and then getting some packed to take back home. The streets of Agra are filled with shops selling wide variety of petha. Right from chocolate, gulaab (rose), coconut, to paan petha and white plain cherry, it is almost as if you can think up of a flavor and you are likely to find a petha in just that flavor! And if it gets too sweet for your health then you can even opt for sugarfree petha. While shopping for petha, remember to go to the original world famous Panchhi Petha Store.

Agra City Guide | Hilton Destinations - Explore Agra, Delhi, Jaipur

Bedai With Aaloo Ki Sabz: Bedai also known as berahi is fried, fluffly bread usually served with aaloo ki sabzi (cooked potaoes) and some curd. It is a popular breakfast among locals in Agra. With spicy sabzi and crispy bedai, get a burst of flavours. Once you are done with it, end your breakfast with some sweet jalebis.

Agra City Guide | Hilton Destinations - Explore Agra, Delhi, Jaipur

Mughlai Food: The city of Mughals, Agra, boasts of authentic Mughlai Food. Some of the restaurants in the city have been serving from past 50 odd years. From boti kebabs, pasanda, korma, to biryani, you will find everything at Taj Ganj.

Let Lose The Shopaholic In You

Let Lose The Shopaholic In You

Agra is that one place in India where you will find everything in marble. From replica of the Taj to small earrings, vases, and ornamental boxes, Agra has a wide range of beautifully crafted marble products. While the marble Taj makes for one of the best souvenirs, other popular items of Agra include leather products and handicrafts, which you can take with you to add a dash of Agra back home. Markets of interest are –

  • Sadar Bazaar

    Sadar Bazaar

    Located close to Agra Cantonment railway station and in proximity to the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, Sadar Bazaar is a popular shopping destination among tourists. From leather products, handicrafts to the famous petha, you will get everything in this market. Note: The market is closed on Tuesdays.

  • Kinari Bazaar

    Kinari Bazaar

    One of the busiest and most crowded shopping areas of Agra, Kinari Bazaar is a hit among both locals and tourists. The secret of its popularity is the variety of products that can be found in every part of its narrow lanes. Located behind the Jama Masjid, Kinari Bazaar is a shopper’s paradise. Lookout for exquisite zari and zardosi (embroidery work), unique jewellery designs, rugs, spices and textile products.

  • Subhash Emporium

    Subhash Emporium

    Subhash Emporium also known as the Marble Emporium has been in business since 1973. Known for fine inlay art, the emporium provides an array of marble inlay products. From table top, replica of Taj, boxes, vases, to plates, marble handicrafts have fine detailing and elaborate carvings.

Apart from these two major markets and few decade old Emporium, there are also other small markets which can be explored, like Shah Market for electronic goods, Rawatpara market for spices, shoe market, Subhash Bazar for clothes and others. But, Sadar Bazaar, Kinari Bazaar and Subhash Emporium are not to be missed when in Agra.

And Finally…Taj Mahal

    Rabindranath Tagore described it as 'a teardrop on the cheek of time’. Majority of the tourists visit Agra only to witness this majestic monument that was built by 20,000 artisans, took approximately 20 years to build the mausoleum and the surrounding buildings. It is believed that over 1,000 elephants were used to transport the building materials. Legend has it that Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who built this monument for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, had his minions cut off the hands of the workers and architect of the Taj Mahal, so that they can never build anything like this. Unique as it is, Taj has very few parallels in the world and continues to stand tall on the banks of Yamuna where it was built nearly 400 years ago, braving pollution and environmental degradation of the present times.

    Our Top 3 Picks For Agra

    • Taj Mahal On Full Moon Night

      Taj leaves most speechless during the day, but viewing the Taj on full moon night, in all its glory is a surreal experience that is unmatched. This rare sighting is possible only five days in a month. On normal days, Taj Mahal’s gates open 30 minutes prior to sunrise and close 30 minutes before sunset. Night viewing of the monument is available on full moon night (poornima), and two days before and after the full moon. For night viewing, ticket prices are a little high, but the experience makes it worth it. Remember, only 400 tickets are available that too a day before night viewing, so purchase them at the earliest and make the most of your trip. As per the details given on the official website of the Taj, entry fee follows as: Adult: Rs. 510 (Indian) Adult: Rs. 750 (Foreigner) Child (3-15 years): Rs. 500

    • Taj Mahotsav: A 10-Day Carnival

      The 10-day colorful carnival takes you through different shades of India’s rich culture, craft, dance forms, art, music and flavours. Organised by Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department, the Taj Mahotsav is a one stop platform for craftsman from all across the country. The festival is celebrated every year from February 18 to 27 at Shilpgram near the Eastern gate of the Taj Mahal. At the carnival, while shoppers can have their fill of local craft, paintings, jewellery and furniture, the foodies can relish the wide variety of gastronomical delights. As per the details specified on the official website of the Taj Mahotsav, entry fee follows as: Adult: Rs. 50 Children between 5 years and 10 years: Rs. 10 Foreigner: Free

    • Light And Sound Show At Agra Fort

      Agra Fort or Agra’s Red Fort has number of exquisite structures with fascinating history. Uttar Pradesh Tourism organises light and sound show in Hindi and English, every day, to provide an insight into the bygone era. From tales of emperors to chronicling major events that Agra Fort witnessed in its prime, the show is a visual delight. While the Hindi show begins 30 minutes after sunset, English show starts right after the Hindi show. As per the details available on the official website of the Taj, entry fee follows as: Indian: Rs. 70 Foreigner: Rs. 200 Student: Rs. 40

    How To Reach The City

    24th most populous city of India, Agra, is just 209 kms away from the national capital Delhi and 335 kms away from the state capital, Lucknow. Best time to visit the city is November to March, as the weather during this period is mostly pleasant.

    By Air: If you are travelling by air, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Airport is the nearest airport to the city. The domestic airport is well connected to the city and major monuments. For instance, the Taj Mahal is around 13 kms away from the airport.

    By Rail: The city has four railway stations- the Agra Cantonment, Agra Fort, Idgah Agra junction and Raja ki Mandi. Since Agra Cantonment is the main station, one can get down at it and hire a taxi, auto rickshaw or a cycle rickshaw, to Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.

    By Road: The city has great connectivity from all the major cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Kanpur, and others. Agra city has two major bus terminals- the Idgah Bus Stand and the Interstate Bus Terminus (ISBT). A road trip from Delhi to Agra is also possible, courtesy National Highway (NH2) and the Taj Express Highway/Yamuna Expressway. While Agra is a four hour drive from Jaipur via NH11, Gwalior is a 1.5 hour drive, connected via NH3. Lucknow and Kanpur are linked by NH2 and are two and five hour drive respectively.