Agra is the one of the prominent destinations of the World Tourism map with three heritage monuments - The Taj Mahal, Red Fort & Fatehpur Sikri. It is more just a dacadent city of graveyards and stones, but it is a vibrant centre of Culture, Art and Religious philosphies that have enriched mankind and shaped humen thought over centuries.
A pleasant town with comparatively slow pace, Agra is known for its superb inlay work on marble and soastone by craftsman who are descendant of those who worked under the Mughals. The city is also famous for its carpets, gold thread embroidery and leather shoes.
Agra was once the capital of the Mughal empire and even today it seems to linger in the past . Not surprising , for the Mughal emperors with their passion for building, endowed the city with some of the finest structures in the world . It is very easy to slip away here through the centuries into the grandeur and intrigues of the Mughal court .
Agra is an old city and it is said that its name was derived from Agrabana, a forest that finds mention in the epic Mahabharata.
in more recent times Agra came into prominence when Sikandar Lodi made it his capital city in 1501 .The Lodi rule was to end very soon and Agra passed into the possession of the Mughals .
It was during the time of the third emperor Akbar that Agra came into its own . He embarked on the construction of the massive Agra Fort in 1565. Though Akbar was diverted into building a new capital at Fatehpur sikri not far away.
Agra continued to retain its importance and Shah Jehan, Akbar's garndson ornamented the city with that masterpiece of Mughal architecture - the Taj Mahal and built several other beautiful buildings within the Agra fort.
Shopping In Agra
Shopping in Agra is nothing short of an excursion to tourist attractions in India. Agra has both traditional markets that have been in the trading business for centuries. Then, there are the modern shopping sites and complexes especially the state emporiums where you can purchase antique souvenirs to luxury items.
A miniature marble Taj Mahal is a popular souvenir that tourists prefer to walk home with after a day's shopping in Agra. Besides the pietra dura marble items that are inlaid with colorful stones, other popular items that are worth buying during your shopping in Agra are rugs, leather items, gemstones, ethnic handicrafts and jewelry.
Sadar Bazaar and south of Taj Gang are popular shopping areas in Agra. Shilpagram, a craft village on the eastern side of Taj Mahal in Agra, is a popular open-air emporium that is frequented by many tourists on their shopping in Agra. With number of expensive emporiums lining the street, these shopping areas have plenty of rest houses and restaurants to choose from on your tour to Agra, under the Golden Triangle Tours package offered by Adventure Tours of India.
The Kinari Bazaar, also known as the old marketplace, near Jama Masjid, has many small distinct trading areas that date back to the Mughal period. The Loha Mandi (Iron Market), Sabzi Mandi (Vegetable Market) and the Nai-ki-Mandi (Barber's Market) are the main markets though the latter no longer functions as a barber's area, rather it is famous for its textiles.
When shopping in Agra, do not forget to take home a pack of paethas for which the streets of Agra are famous world over.
The city of Agra falls in the popular Brij region of Uttar Pradesh. Therefore, you will experience the Brij culture in most of the parts of Agra. Almost everything right from the food habits to languages used and attires are greatly influenced by the Brij culture. As the city of Agra was an important city of Mughal dynasty, you would certainly experience the touch of the Mughal culture in the hearts of Agra localities.
The culture of Agra can be well-described through the festivals of the city. Visit Agra during the month of February to be a part of ten-day festival called ‘Taj Mahotsav’. This festival will help you exploring the real culture of Agra through its exhibition that displays crafts, arts, dance performances and classical songs of the region. Enjoy the royal camel and elephant ride during the event. Id is one of the popular festival of Agra that is been celebrated with utmost zest by the local residents.
Apart from seeing the finest monuments and visiting the handicrafts markets of Agra , the tourist can also avail this city’s numerous sports and cinema facilities .. The finely structured monuments and well-designed hotels of the city also enrich the culture of the city.
How to Reach Agra
Agra is easily accessible, especially from Delhi and Jaipur. It has its own domestic airport, which is just 5 km from the city and also doubles up as the military airport. It is also well connected by a network of trains to almost all the major destinations throughout the country and some of the super-express trains that pass through it include the Rajdhani Express and the Shatabdi Express. Both the government and private buses and deluxe coaches run to and from Agra to all the nearby major destinations within and outside Uttar Pradesh.
Agra's very own Kheria airport is barely 5 km from the city and is also known as Agra Civil Enclaves. All the major domestic airlines provide flight services to and from the city of Taj.
It is surprising to note that Agra has seven railway stations of its own, excluding the Tundla junction, which is just 1 hour away from the city. However the two major railway stations include Agra Fort Railway Station and Agra Cantt Railway Station. Raja-ki-Mandi is also a popular stopover point in the city. Most of the trains running across India pass through the former two railway stations including the luxury train 'Palace on Wheels' and the super express trains known as Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express. Some of the other major trains pass through Tundla, well connected to the city by road.
Agra boasts of three National Highways including N.H. No. 2, 3 and 11. The government and private bus services are available to and from Agra to all the nearby major destinations. One can hire ordinary buses or the deluxe coaches, according to their requirements. U.P. Tourism also conducts special guided tours for the tourists, who come here just for a day, including Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Sikandra and Fatehpur Sikri in their itineraries.