‘To be living in Delhi and not visiting Agra is like relishing pakoras without chutney.’ This is what a rickshaw driver told me as we engaged in a conversation about Delhi and its sightseeing destinations during a weekend in Agra.
The Wonders of the Taj Mahal
I finally decided to visit the historic city of Agra to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Taj Mahal and its majestic beauty lived up to every bit of my expectations and even surpassed a few. The smoothness and precision of the marble bricks, the minakari on the marble slabs and the symmetry offer different perspectives to view this mausoleum. This beauty of the memorial of love is even more enhanced during dawn and dusk. Rabindranath Tagore described the Taj Mahal as ‘a teardrop on the cheek of time’. Perhaps, nobody can describe it more aptly than this.
Following the Trail of Mughal Architecture
Agra’s history has more to it than just the Taj. The charm of the city extends not just to the numerous monuments and forts in the city but can be seen in every alley and household in Agra. Agra also houses two other UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
The crescent shaped fort has plenty of tourist attractions within. Explore the immaculate white marble mosque, Moti Masjid, the Diwan-i-Aam (hall of public audience), Diwan-i-Khaas (hall of private audience), Jahangir’s Palace, Khaas Mahal and Sheesh Mahal.
An exceptional testimony to the Mughal Empire in Agra is the Fatehpur Sikri. Also called the ‘City of Victory’, it comprises of a series of palaces, mosques and public buildings. Chini ka Rauza, Itimad-ud-daula’s Tomb, Sikandra and Mariyam’s Tomb are other mausoleums in the city that exemplify Mughal architecture. Considering I have been to the Jama Masjid in Delhi, it was interesting to visit Agra’s Jama Masjid. Built along similar lines, it’s the essence of the city that gives it a charm of its own.
A Walk in the Famous Gardens
If you think you are bedazzled by the majestic forts and palaces in Agra, wait till you visit the gardens here! Agra offers a variety of beautiful and enchanting baghs where you can relax once you are tired of your sight-seeing expedition. It is indeed surprising that even the gardens here have a story of their own rather than just being an episode in Agra’s rich past. The Ram Bagh, Mehtab Bagh and the Soami Bagh Samadh are few of the popular gardens in Agra, each beautiful in its own way.
Things to Buy in Agra
As much as the city is famous for its rich culture and heritage, it is equally popular for its bazaars. For almost everybody who visits Agra cannot resist the temptation to explore its markets. Known for the fabulous marble-made handicrafts and soft stone inlay work, the shops in Agra are flooded with small souvenirs of the splendid monuments of the city, especially the Taj.
The Zardosi adorned cloth pieces, itar, carpets and dhurries, brassware and leather made items are other sought after commodities in Agra. Be it the over-bustling crowd of people and rickshaws in Sadar Bazaar or the traffic of huge black cows and gangly goats in Kineri Bazaar, the fun is to find your way through this puddle and get to the respective shops.