365 Places: Agra

Day 84: Agra, India

No journey to India would be complete without visiting Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal.

But the Taj is not the only thing worth visiting in Agra as it has three UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort in the city and Fatehpur Sikri nearby. There are also many other buildings and tombs from Agra’s days of glory as the capital of the Mughal Empire.

The Taj Mahal, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Agra

The Taj Mahal, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Agra

The Taj Mahal is world-famous as a monument to love. It 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. The translation of Taj Mahal means Crown Palace. The Taj is well-preserved and considered one of the masterpieces of Indian Muslim architecture.

Wiki Travel says:

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.

From what I understand the best way to get to Agra from Delhi is by train, though I understand that the fastest way is via a new freeway which opened recently. Agra is about 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 to other nearby cities and tourist destinations.

The antechamber to Akbar's tomb at Sikandra, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/

The antechamber to Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/

The Taj Majal and Fort Agra are two key sites to see in Agra, but as I mentioned earlier, there are many, many more. For example, Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb (sometimes called the Baby Taj), Mariam’s Tomb and the Jama Masjid all sound like very interesting places to visit.

Agra is one of those places that you have to see when you visit India – we will certainly make sure it is on our list of destinations.