Located about 200km from Delhi lies Agra, the city that houses one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Agra has three notable UNESCO world heritage sites, namely the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. My first impression of this city falls short, as it resembles more of a rural village (or maybe it is just the area that we were staying at). Nonetheless, amid the vast land and scarcity of modern landscapes, it indeed showcases magnificent heritage sites that are worth visiting!
(Entrance to Taj, Agra. Dated Sept 2011)
Most of the buildings in Agra dated back to the mid-16th and 17th century, which were built in contemporary Mughal style. Besides being a photographer’s paradise, this city also provides various handicraft and artworks that are great for souvenirs!
Things to Do
Get up close & personal with a World Wonder! Visit the Taj Mahal and learn further insights on the love between Emperor Shah Jehan and his queen, Mumtaz Mahal. As a signature monument of Indian architecture, the Taj resembles an untainted palace (even after so many years!). We visited during late afternoon and was able to see how the sunset casts changing hues on the beautiful white marble structure! (PS: The welcome package includes shoewrap so that we dont need to remove our shoes when visiting the sacred Taj!)
Bring home a mini Taj replica! Available in various sizes, this white-marble Taj are often used as home decorations and are considered to bring good luck for lovers. This makes for a great souvenir or gift and often come in nice box packaging. Nonetheless, do be mindful of quality as there are “fake” marble souvenirs that comes with premium pricing. Also, bigger cities such as Delhi do offer the similar souvenirs, although it will be priced at a heftier amount.
Explore passages used only by harem inmates during the 15th century at the Agra Fort! View the Taj Mahal from afar and find a cosy spot to nap (if you dare!). Marble is the chief construction material of these large fortified residences, this probably explains why we came across several local tourists snoozing in some of the ghats.
Visit one of the largest mosques in India – the Jama Masjid, which is located in Fatehpur Sikri (the city of Victory). Built during the second half of the 16th century, this is the capital of Mughal Empire for only some 10 years! It’s uniform architectural promises to keep you in awe.
Send a postcard to dear family or friends around the world and back home. This is a personal tradition of mine that I follow religiously when I am travelling. We visited the post office at Agra and after some struggling conversations, we finally managed to get the correct stamps and postboxes. Sending postcards in Agra, or India for that matter, is a flat rate regardless of the countries that you are sending to. How awesome, right?
(India Post, dated Sept 2011)
Hop on a train at the Tundla Railway station for a uniquely Indian rail experience! Depending on how much time you can spare, choose a destination of your choice. It is advisable to pre-book train tickets (preferably with help from local tour operators). We took a day train to Mughal Safari (Varanasi) and were rewarded with beautiful countryside scenery as the train rumbled on. Snack vendors calling out “Chai, Chai, Chai” (tea) outside our carriage has since then, became a fond memory.
From Me to You:
A Simple Reference Guide For Your Travel In India
- Northern India
- 05 Things That I Appreciate About India
- 09 Must-Know Travel Tips To Enjoy Your India Trip
- Experience North India in 13 Days (PDF Itinerary by KaZ)
(Involving 6 cities & 2 towns in 4 states by plane, rail, car and boat travel!)
- Personal List of Things to Bring When Travelling To India (PDF)
(Includes free space for you to add additional items!)
The above information has been complied based on various sources, including my own experience and should only be used as a reference. For more information on the destination, please visit: http://www.incredibleindia.org/