India

Agra

The city of Agra, one of the points on the popular tourist trail the Golden Triangle, is best known for the Taj Mahal, a building that is as beautiful as the stories suggest. Whilst seeing the Taj Mahal is an absolute must, Agra has so much more to offer. Once the capital of the empire, the Mughal’s left behind a magnificent legacy in the form of a fort, tombs and mausoleums – all this deserves much more than just a fleeting visit.

What to see

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

It’s not often that you find that the hype surrounding a major sight is true, but the Taj Mahal is as beautiful as the stories say. This is India’s most iconic building; a monument to love built by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his third wife Mumtaz Mahal. It can be difficult to avoid the crowds, who can blame them, but visiting at dawn will give you a glimpse of the Taj Mahal in all its glory – the white marble reflecting the moods of the sky as the sun rises.

Agra Fort

Agra Fort

This magnificent 16th century Mughal monument dominates the bank of the Yamura River a kilometre upstream from the Taj Mahal. Built in red sandstone, this was the imperial city of the Mughal rulers when Agra was their capital. Originally built as a military fort, within the huge two kilometre round walls today you’ll find intricate palaces, spacious audience halls and two exquisite mosques. Every evening there is a sound and light show lasting one hour – the commentary guides you through Mughal history.

Tomb of Akbar the Great

Tomb of Akbar the Great

A magnificent tomb for the greatest Mughal emperor, Akbar’s tomb sits 10 kilometres from central Agra in the suburb of Sikandra. Constructed in red sandstone intricately inlaid in geometric patterns with white marble, minarets reaching skyward on each corner, Akbar himself designed the tomb. Entered through a great gate, the tomb is set in lovely, peaceful parkland, with roaming monkeys and deer giving a rural feel.

Baby Taj

Baby Taj

The tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, constructed between 1622 and 1628, was the first to be built on the bank of the Yamura River. Placed beside the Tomb of Akbar the Great and the Taj Mahal it is possible to see the progression of Mughal architecture – it is even thought that the tomb (nicknamed the Baby Taj) was a draft of the Taj Mahal. Exquisite and delicate with fine carving, the tomb is white marble encrusted with semi-precious stone decorations. The grounds, crisscrossed by lightly trickling waterways, are a lovely place to stroll.

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri

Located 40 kilometres from Agra Fatehpur Sikri, the City of Victory, was founded in the late 16th century to replace Agra as the Mughal’s capital. This honour only lasted 14 years for reasons that aren’t fully understood (water shortages and military strategy have both been cited) the city was then abandoned. The architecture of Fatehpur Sikri is magnificent, a fusion of Muslim and Hindu styles, and the best preserved Mughal architecture in India. It is also home to one of India’s largest mosques, which is still in use today.

Where to stay

Trident Agra

The Trident Agra offers an oasis of calm in the middle of the city. Set amongst gushing fountains and landscaped gardens the hotel is constructed from the red sandstone of the local area and typical of Mughal architecture. A range of excellent facilities include an outdoor pool, a relaxing spa and a range of cuisines to choose from.

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Hotel The Taj Vilas

This elegant and modern hotel, well located for the sights of Agra, boasts a contemporary ambiance and and true Mughal hospitality. Treated as an honoured guest you will be made to feel at home in your comfortable, modern room, served Indian and continental cuisine in the hotel restaurant and have time to relax with spa facilities.

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Jaypee Palace Hotel

The Jaypee Palace in Agra is a glorious blend of red sandstone and marble offering luxurious rooms. The hotel is spread over 25 acres of elegantly landscaped greenery with water features and endless walkways. Amenities include a swimming pool located amid exotic flowerbeds, an Ayurveda health spa, a gym and many sports facilities.

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