The preconceived notion of Agra being associated with the Taj is nothing but a façade. The beauty of Agra transcends the Taj Mahal and therefore it is important to know what all does this beautiful city has to offer.
- If the Taj Mahal is a symbol of love and beauty, this fort represents power and might, and it previously housed a family. Agra was the seat of the Mughal empire until 1638, and this palace and fort was also the Mughals’ residence beginning in 1573 when Akbar had it erected out of sandstone. Except for two parts constructed later by Shah Jahan’s daughter, the fort is entirely made of sandstone. Agra Fort is an architectural wonder that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the second most visited tourist attraction in Agra after the Taj Mahal. The fort contains a number of structures, including the Pearl Mosque, Diwan-i-Khas, Diwan-i-Aam, Moti Masjid, and Jahangiri Mahal. The fort is an ideal example of the holistic blend of Rajputana and Indo-Persian styles of architecture.
ITMAD – UD – DAULAH
Nur Jahan built it in commemoration of her father, Ghias-ud-Din Beg, who was given the title ‘Itimad-ud-Daulah,’ which means ‘Pillar of the Government.’ It is the first tomb constructed of white marble rather than red sandstone. It marks a break from Mughal architecture’s red sandstone structures. It is also thought to have inspired the Taj Mahal due to its beautiful artwork, which includes marble lattice screens and fine sculptures. As a result, it is also known as the “Baby Taj Mahal.” The main structure is designed to look like a jewel box in the center of lush green gardens. Pietra dura (stone inlay) decoration featuring cypresses, wine cups, and an astounding diversity of geometrical arabesques is a Mughal hallmark.
THE TOMBS AND THEIR HISTORICITY
CHEENI KA RAUZA
Cheeni Ka Rauza, once lavishly coated in glazed porcelain tiles and considered by many to be a notable landmark in Indo-Persian architecture, is the mausoleum of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s prime minister, Afzal Khan Aalmi, also known as Maula Shukrullah Shirazi. The mausoleum was established in 1635 in Itmadpur, just a kilometer away from Itmad-ud-grave. Daulah’s monument is set within magnificent gardens and is famous for its blue glazed tiles, which are thought to have been transported from China. While some of these are still partially intact on the mausoleum’s façade, the interiors are in good condition. It has flowery motifs that are distinctive to the hallmark Persian art style. It is the only mausoleum in Agra that is aligned with Mecca.
TOMB OF MARIAM ZAMANI
Another must-see in Agra is the Tomb of Mariam Zamani, which is the final resting place of Queen Jodha Bai. She was Akbar’s wife and the daughter of Raja Bharmal Kaccwaha of Amber, a Hindu Rajput king. She was also known as Mariam-uz-Zamani. This highly regarded tomb is one of the few without a dome. It includes four chhatris and columns with inverted lotus, which are typical of Indo-Islamic architecture. The chhatris are constructed of red sandstone. This tomb is the same on both sides. Unlike most Mughal period structures, the mausoleum’s back end has a real entrance rather than a false one. This finely constructed mausoleum of Rani Jodha Bai is a popular tourist attraction.
A STROLL THROUGH THE NATURE
TAJ NATURE WALK
The Taj Nature Walk, located around 500 meters from the Taj Mahal’s east gate, is a calm and quiet 173-acre park with attractive walking routes, watchtowers, and rest areas. The magnificent perspective of the iconic Taj Mahal from various angles is the park’s attraction. You may also come across lovely birds such as hoopoes, peacocks, and others while strolling through the park. Foreign nationals must pay INR 100 ($1.56) and Indians must pay INR 20.
Mehtab Bagh, built alongside the river Yamuna and overlooking the Taj Mahal, is arranged in such a way that the vista of the Taj Mahal appears all the more magnified during sunset and amidst lovely flowers and lush green gardens. When you visit the garden, you will note that it is designed in a quadrilateral pattern, with a giant octagonal tank in the center. On clear moonlit nights, you may see the Taj Mahal reflected in the tank’s water. A breathtaking vista!
MARKETS IN AGRA
- As against the preconceived notions Agra, also has a plethora of markets known for their vibrancy and beauty, this includes
- Sadar bazaar is the heart of Agra for obvious reasons. This is the place where one can find probably every item ranging from leather boots, bags, belts, ethnic dresses, vegetarian and non-vegetarian food joints, Cafes, marble inlay items, junk jewelry, etc.
- Subhash Market is one such place that is flooded with ample local products but the ones which are a must-buy are silk fabrics and especially the intricately woven silk sarees.
- Kinari Bazaar is indeed a paradise for shopaholics because it offers everything from clothing to junk jewelry, from spices to shoes, and from marbles to showpieces.
- Shah Market is nothing but the go-to place for every gadget freak out there. It is the home to electronic shops, mobile repairing centers, second-hand mobile stores, and also some outlets for your daily needs products. So if any of your tech devices lags in the middle of your mesmerizing tour amidst the architecturally rich city of Agra, you know where to go.
- Hing ki Mandi is a place famous for its beautifully embellished good quality and very affordable shoe market. So if buying a branded shoe pair from Sadar seems a little expensive, do visit this place for catering to the shoe fetish within you.
If you love experimenting with your taste buds, Agra is the place for you. From the spicy chaat at Agra Chaat Bhandaar to scrumptious platters and most vitally everybody’s personal favorite Mutton Rogan Josh and Masala Boti at Pinch of Spice, from some amazing snacks served with utmost love by the staff all of whom are acid attack survivors at Sheroes Hangout to the crispy jalebis and samosas at Deviram. The food in Agra is inexpensive and tasty.
HANDICRAFTS AND GEMS
The Sanskriti Imperial Gems on Fatehabad Road –
It is the only place to go for the best souvenirs in handicrafts, marbles, and pricey carpets. The company is well-known for its assortment of carpets encrusted with precious stones, but it also has a selection of things for those on a tight budget. With extensive experience in the gems and jewelry industry, this organization has earned a reputation for outstanding designs and collections.
They are renowned for handpicking distinctive designs that appear in their gold and diamond jewelry lines. Fine craftsmanship accentuates each exquisite piece of jewelry, from classic styles to unique pieces. There is something for everyone and suited for big events such as weddings and parties.
Location – A11, Fatehabad Road, Taj Nagari, Phase 2, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001
Kalra Cottage Industry- KCI is known for its experienced team, which includes over 745 families from Agra and surrounding areas. The families work at home to create the best works of art with ethnic Indo-Persian and Mughal designs; all of these magnificent items are housed and exported globally
Location– A JASORIA ENCLAVE, Fatehabad Rd, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001
Agra beyond the Taj Mahal is definitely a thing and you can explore a lot more in the city if you have already visited the Taj Mahal. this city has a lot stored in its travel basket for its visitors to explore. You can check our Agra city tour packages, and can also customize it as per your requirements and needs.