It’s synonymous to perhaps the most famous ode to love in the world, in all its majestic splendor, the majestic white dome has created awe even through pictures and has drawn millions to its doorways. The city of Agra has been defined by Shah Jahan’s monument to his lady love and probably will be for eternity. The Taj Mahal, no doubt, top every list of Agra must see places, maybe even tops the list of everyone who travels to India. It is for this very reason we’re not elaborating about the Taj in our list of places in Agra; here goes our list of top 8 places to see in Agra.
1. Agra Fort
One of the most important strongholds of the Mughals and once home to the famous ‘Kohinoor’ diamond, the Agra Fort is a red sandstone giant that spreads across about 94 acres of land. It is believed that some 4000 builders worked for nearly 8 years to complete this fort (1565 – 1573). This fort was a favourite of Emperor Akbar’s and has withstood the test of time remarkably well.
2. Fatehpur Sikri
37 kilometers from the city of Agra, Fatehpur Sikri is something of a ghost city from the 16th century that owes its existence to Akbar. Legend has it that a 26 year old Akbar, worried that he had no heirs visited the saint Shaikh Salim Chishti who lived in Sikri. His blessing gave Akbar 3 sons and Akbar built a whole new city in Sikri as a gesture of gratitude. Sadly, the city had to be deserted because the water system could not support its residents and till today, remains as a reminder of the extravagance of the Mughals.
3. Buland Darwaza
One of the highest gateways in the world, it is 40.84 m high and was built on a platform that was 13.52 m high. The Gate of Magnificence took 12 years to build commemorating Akbar’s conquest over Uttar Pradesh and the victory in Gujarat in 1601. Besides verses from the Quran, there are also inscriptions from Hindu and Christian texts on the central face of the Buland Darwaza, signifying Akbar’s secular outlook.
Commissioned by Nūr Jahān, for her father Mirzā Ghiyās Beg, the mausoleum is also referred to as the “Baby Taj” and is regarded as a draft of the Taj Mahal. Mirzā Ghiyās Beg was also the grandfather of Mumtāz Mahāl a wazir of Emperor Jehangir’s. His is the classic rags to riches story from Persia to India, pauper to Mughal courtier.
5. Jami Masjid
Agra’s Jama Masjid is popularly called the Jami Masjid or ‘Friday Mosque’. Built by Shah Jahan, this red sandstone mosque is situated right opposite Delhi Gate in the heart of the city and is dedicated to the emperor’s favourite daughter, Jahanara Begum.
6. Sikandra Mausoleum
This is the tomb of the greatest of the Mughal rulers, Akbar. The most secular minded royal of his time, he designed his own tomb to be a perfect blend of Hindu, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain themes. It is a red sandstone structure with white marble inlay. Akbar’s daughters Shakrul Nisha Begum and Aram Bano are also entombed here.
7. The Queen’s Palaces
These are the palaces of Akbar’s three queens – one Hindu, one Christian and one Muslim. The Hindu queen’s palace is the grandest and most extravagant, her being the first one. It’s interesting to walk through these must visit places of Agra, listen to the stories of the royal ladies and just marvel at the grandeur they lived in.
And that’s the best of Agra for you!