Agra is a beautiful and lively city in northern India, situated on the banks of the river Yamuna. The city is undoubtedly best known for being the home of the Taj Mahal, a world-famous mausoleum that was built in the 17th century. However, there are so many things to see in Agra. The city has a rich and fascinating past that’s just waiting to be explored. Agra was founded in the 16th century and became the capital of the Mughal Empire under the rule of Emperor Akbar. During this time, Agra was a major centre of art, culture, and learning, paving the way for the many beautiful buildings and monuments you can see in the city today. The city is also famed for its crafted leather goods and traditional sweets called Peth. If you’re looking to join the millions of visitors that explore this picturesque city every year, why not join one of our India tours?
Here are some of the best things to do in Agra, whether you’re joining a tour or going it alone.
Where is Agra?
Agra is located in northern India in the state of Uttar Pradesh, approximately 230 km from the Indian capital Delhi, situated on the banks of River Yamuna. With over 200 million inhabitants, Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India and is home to many ancient temples and monuments. The region is also well-known for its fertile agricultural land and is considered to be the birthplace of the Hindu god Krishna.
Together with Delhi and Jaipur, Agra completes The Golden Triangle circuit of India – a popular route for travellers visiting the country. Tour the Golden Triangle with us on our Golden Triangle & Goa Tour or our Grand Tour of India.
When is the Best Time to Visit Agra?
Like most of India, Agra has a warm climate year-round. The hottest months fall in spring and summer, from April to September, when temperatures can reach up to 45°C. The monsoon season also runs from July to September, bringing heavy rainfall and high humidity, so some travellers may wish to avoid Agra at this time of the year.
One of the best times to visit Agra is during the cooler months of October to March, when the temperature is much more comfortable for walking around and exploring the sights. You’ll also have an opportunity to witness some spectacular Indian festivals during this time, such as Holi in March and Diwali in October/November.
The Best Things to See in Agra
Agra is a city that offers a fascinating blend of history and culture. There are so many things to see and do in the city, from the imposing Agra Fort to the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah. Here are some of the best things to see in Agra.
The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is a stunning architectural masterpiece that has its roots in the 17th century. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The tomb is the centrepiece of the complex, which also includes a mosque and a guest house.
Today, the Taj Mahal is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. The Islamic mausoleum is crafted from ivory-white marble, decorated with intricate carvings and inlaid with precious stones. The palace is also surrounded by charming landscaped gardens and four minarets, which frame the monument beautifully. Cameras at the ready!
One of the best times to visit the Taj Mahal is during golden hour, just before sunrise or just after sunset when the light is warm and soft. We also recommend you visit during the week to avoid crowds. Although there are no dress code rules when visiting the Taj Mahal, travellers should consider modest clothing.
Agra Fort is a vast fortress that was built in the 16th century by the Mughal emperor Akbar.
The impressive fort is made of red sandstone and is surrounded by a moat, with high walls and towers offering panoramic views of the city. Step inside the fort and explore a whole new world of architecture and beautiful buildings. The fort houses the impressive Jahangir Palace and the Shah Jahan Palace, homes of the Mughal emperors.
Alongside the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri, the fort completes Agra’s trio of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Take a Boat Ride on the Yamuna River
Enjoying a boat ride on the Yamuna River is a great way to experience Agra’s impressive monuments and natural beauty. The Yamuna River is a sacred river in Hinduism and is an important part of the city’s history and culture. A boat ride along the river offers an unmissable opportunity to view iconic landmarks like the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, which can be seen from the water.
Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daula
Sometimes referred to as the Baby Taj or Jewel Box, this 17th-century tomb is widely considered to be the precursor to the Taj Mahal. The tomb was built by the Mughal emperor Jahangir and his wife for his father-in-law, Mirzā Ghiyās Beg, who was the prime minister of the Mughal Empire.
The tomb is primarily made of red sandstone and marble decorations, representing a transition between the first phase of Mughal architecture to what we see today at the Taj Mahal. The Jewel Box offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the Mughal Empire, making it a must-see for travellers visiting Agra.
Mehtab Bagh (The Moonlight Gardens)
Mehtab Bagh is a beautiful garden located on the banks of the Yamuna, ideally located opposite the Taj Mahal.
Dating back to the 17th century, Mehtab Bagh was built by the Mughal emperor Babur as a moonlit garden. It features a high wall and central tank designed to reflect the light of the moon, creating a beautiful ambience at night. The Moonlight Gardens offer a sense of calm amongst the bustle of Agra, along with unparalleled views of the Taj Mahal from across the river.
Akbar’s tomb is another example of red sandstone Mughal architecture in Agra. The tomb was commissioned by Akbar to be his final resting place, with his son Jahangir later completing its construction. The tomb can be found on the outskirts of Agra and features four marble minarets, similar to those of the Taj Mahal.
Upon exploring the tomb, you might also notice hints of Rajputana and Gothic-style architecture throughout the complex, making Akbar’s Tomb a must-see for anyone looking to explore Agra’s fascinating architectural history.
Experience breathtaking Agra
Agra truly is a city like no other, with a rich history, fascinating architecture and cultural heritage that make it a must-see destination during a tour of India.
If you’re ready to explore all that Agra has to offer, why not join one of our expertly-crafted guided tours – like our Grand Tour of India? During this 26-day tour of India, we spend 2 nights in Agra as we explore the magnificent Taj Mahal, witness the imposing Agra Fort and explore the rest of the city at our own, leisurely pace. Learn more about our India tours.