Agra, a metropolis in India’s Uttar Pradesh, was the cultural and imperial center of the Mughal kingdom. Explore ancient culture and history at its fortresses, military complexes, palaces and gardens. The Mughals’ ultimate show of wealth and power is the Taj Mahal. This ornate white marble mausoleum was built by the grieving Shah Jahan for his wife, who died in childbirth.
Wander among the Taj Mahal’s canals and gardens at dawn as the sparkling mausoleum emerges from night’s shadows. The symmetric artistry of this Indian icon is striking, with its elegant square gardens and intricate gemstone inlays. Learn about the history, art and architecture of the Mughals at the Taj Museum. Also visit Agra Fort, Shah Jahan’s seat of power and ultimate prison.
Agra is known for beautifully crafted items of marble inlaid with precious stones. Watch artisans create works of art using generations-old techniques at Agra Marble Emporium. Bargain for leather goods and souvenirs at Sadar Bazaar. Take a break for samosas or spicy potato and chickpea balls from a chaat stall.
Agra’s hectic streets filled with traffic, cows and rubbish can be overwhelming. Find tranquility in the ancient gardens of Rambagh. These Mughal-era gardens are wonderful examples of Persian design, with flowering plants and canals creating an oasis representing paradise.
See the glitter of Bollywood-style dancing at Kalakriti Cultural Centre’s daily performances, with multi-language headphones for dialogue. Within these grounds you can ride a helium balloon up 250 feet (76 meters) for a panoramic city view.
To the west, visit Fatehpur Sikri city, a 16th-century stronghold and court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, another must-see.
Getting around the city is easy via rickshaw and auto rickshaw, but one of the most fun ways to see the city is by “tonga,” a covered horse-drawn cart. It’s best to visit Agra in winter, from October to March, when the area is drier and the heat is less oppressive than other parts of the year.