Introducing Agra Beyond Taj Mahal

The historically rich heritage of Agra is beyond words, which is synonymous to majestic Taj Mahal, a splendid white tomb which perhaps is an apt emblem of Love. The city of Agra has been defined by this monument for years which was built by Shah Jahan for his lady love and perhaps will remain so for eternity. Undoubtedly Taj Mahal tops the list for everyone traveling to India and Agra. But there is other side of this city as well which is overshadowed by one of the 7 wonders of the world. Want to know?

Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh

View of Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh

Mehtab Bagh: A century old mughal garden complex will treat you with a perfect view of Taj Mahal. Known as the moonlight garden, Mehtab Bagh was built by the emperor Babur nearly in 1500’s. Significant thing about this garden is that it is aligned perfectly with the width of this white tomb, giving pictureque views of Taj Mahal from each corner

Gayrah Sidhi: Gayah Sidi is almost ignorant to a person visiting Agra which is situated near Mehtab Bagh. These ruined free-standing steps are carved out of single red sandstone and used to be the astrological observatory of the Mughal Emperor Humayun to trace the planetary movements, to make major decisions

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Distant view of Gayrah Sidhi

Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary:  Soor Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at a distance of 17 KM from Agra and lies in a sprawling 15-acre green expanse on Keetham Lake. Sur Sarovar was declared as a Bird Sanctuary in 1991 and since then remained a joint to spot the birds. The sanctuary is homes to around 165 species of migratory and resident birds.

Bear Rescue Center (Wildlife SOS): Bear Rescue center is located right inside Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, which is known to rescue and protect the sloth bear population in the world. Wildlife SOS is an organisation which is working towards ending the brutal practice of dancing bears. So far they have rescued over 600 bears from the tribals who have been harming the cubs for general entertainment and earning.

Sikandara: The idyllic monument built in red sandstone with white marble inlay is the tomb of one of the greatest Mughal rulers, Akbar. Surprisingly Akbar himself started the construction of this monument and has got similarity in design features of Taj Mahal, which was built much later.

Sikandara

Impressive gateway with its four minarets that have been intricately carved and the portico in front of the grave in the basement which is covered with beautiful stucco paintings, will give you the essence of detailing with which it is built. Akbar’s daughters Shakrul Nisha Begum and Aram Bano are also entombed here

Agra Fort: Once considered to be the home of famous ‘Kohinoor’ diamond, Agra Fort is one of the most significant and stoutly strongholds of the Mughal empire.

Inside Agra Fort

Embroidered with number of splendidly decorated buildings encircling around the Mughal style of art and architecture, this fort was constructed by the third Mughal emperor Akbar on the remains of an ancient site known as Badalgarh. Agra Fort is a recognised UNESCO world heritage site

Buland Darwaza: Considered to be one of the highest gateways in the world, it is 40.84 m high and was built on a platform which is 13.52 m high. Buland Darwaza took nearly 12 years to build which celebrates Akbar conquest over Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat in 1601. The gate has strong inscriptions from Hindu and Christian texts as well as verses from the Quran, which personifies Akbar’s worldly outlook

Itimad-ud-Daulah: Also known as Baby Taj, this finely carved monument built in white marble is also regarded as a draft of Taj Mahal. Regarded as the mausoleum of Mirza Ghiyas Beg, this monument was commissioned by his daughter Nur Jahan, the beautiful and most adorable wife of Jahangir.

Baby Taj

Mirzā Ghiyās Beg was also the grandfather of Mumtāz Mahāl, the wife of the emperor Shah Jahan. Itimad-ud-Daulah is true embodiment of a daughter’s love for her father.

Fatehpur Sikri: 37 kilometers from the city of Agra, this city from 16th century owes its existence to Akbar. According to the historic texts, Akbar was worried that he had no heirs and visited the saint Shaikh Salim Chishti who then lived in Sikri.

Fatehpur Sikri

It is due to the blessings from this saint that Akbar was blessed with 3 sons and as a gesture of gratitude he built a whole new city in Sikri A true embodiment of the extravagance of Mughals, Fatehpur is a delight to be visited

Jami Masjid: Agra’s Jama Masjid is also popularly known as Jami Masjid or the ‘Friday Mosque’. This carved red sandstone mosque was built by Shah Jahan and was dedicated to the emperor’s favourite daughter, Jahanara Begum

Kalakriti: Showcasing the cultural heritage of Agra, Kalakriti is the largest and most spectacular handicraft emporium in Agra. Located very close to Taj Mahal, one can feel the depiction of inheritance at the entrance door which is studded with semi-precious stones and has resemblance of Buland Darwaza.

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Inside the emporium one can spot artisans working timelessly to churn out the fine piece of intricate pattern of inlay work for which Agra monuments are known for. In the evening, Kalakriti also organises the ‘Mohabbat-the-Taj’- a spectacular theatrical play in Urdu depicting the immortal love of Shajahan for Mumtaj Mahal

Sadar Bazar & Panchi Petha: A trip to Agra remains incomplete if you haven’t roamed around the old market and lanes of Sadar Bazaar which will give you the real essence of streets of Agra. Quite famous in Agra, the old and traditional store of Panchi Petha serves delicious Petha in various flavours including chocolate, Elaichi etc. Don’t forget to indulge yourself in one. If possible get it packed for your loved ones

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10 thoughts on “Introducing Agra Beyond Taj Mahal

    • I was thoroughly impressed with the work that SOS is doing. More than billboards I guess it is important to highlight the plight of dancing bears. We should know that they are not meant to entertain us. I would still prefer that people should go and see 🙂

  1. Going to Agra in a couple of weeks. The bear rescue center sounds so interesting. Definitely want to try it along with the bazar!

  2. Hey, the post just reminded me of the fun trip we had with Uttar Pradesh Tourism Board.
    And we had explored so much in Agra beyond Taj Mahal.
    Ever since then I have been telling people just don’t go to Agra for Taj Mahal, there is much more, now I will share your article.

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