Agra is the city of the Taj Mahal, in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, some 200 km from Delhi. Agra has three UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort in the city and Fatehpur Sikri nearby. There are also many other buildings and tombs from Agra's days of glory as the capital of the Mughal Empire. The city has little else to recommend it. Pollution, especially smog and litter, is rampant and travellers are pestered by swarms of touts and hawkers at every monument, mosque, temple or palace. That said, the sites are some of the wonders of the world and no trip
to India is complete without at least one visit to the Taj.
Due to the very high number of tourists Agra it is a breeding ground for touts and people looking to separate you from your money. People from all across world reach here to visit Agra from all across globe. India's glory TajMahal is the main limelight of the Agra. Try and limit your time in this once great city. While Agra's heyday was as the capital of the Mughal empire between 1526 and 1658, the city was founded much earlier. The earliest reference to Agra is in the ancient epic, the Mahabharata, while Ptolemy was the
first person to call it by its modern name. The recorded history of Agra begins around the 11th century, and over the next 500 years, the city changed hands between various kings, both Hindu and Muslim. In 1506, Sultan Sikandar Lodi, the ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, moved his capital from Delhi to Agra. His son Ibrahim Lodi was the last ruler of the Lodi dynasty, as he was defeated in 1526 by Babur, the first Mughal ruler, in the battle of Panipat. Agra fell too, and became the capital of the Mughals, whose rule over Agra was uninterrupted except for a brief period between 1540 and 1556. In 1540, Sher Shah Shuri overthrew Humayun became the ruler of much of North
India, including Agra. After Sher Shah Suri's death his descendants proved unequal to the task of ruling the kingdom, and Hemu, a Hindu general of Suri became the effective ruler who would later crown himself King Hemachandra Vikramaditya just as the kingdom was facing an assault from the reinvigorated Mughals. In 1556, Hemu would be defeated and killed in the second battle of Panipat, and the Mughals regained Agra. Mughals were great builders. Babur built the Aram Bagh (garden of relaxation) modeled after the garden of paradise, where he was eventually buried after his death. His grandson Akbar refurbished the Agra fort and built the Fatehpur Sikri , an entire city
India Taj Mahal, airpano http://www.airpano.com
just on the outskirts of Agra. He also renamed Agra after himself, and the city was known as Akbarabad while it was in Mughal hands. Akbar's grandson Shah Jehan would give Agra its most famous monument, the Taj Mahal , which is the mausoleum of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal . The Taj is constructed in white marble. It took 20 years to construct, and is now universally known as a monument to love. Legend has it that Shah Jehan wanted a replica of the Taj constructed in black marble that would be his final resting place. There is no actual support for this theory, but even if it were true, it would have been unlikely to be eventuated. His son Aurangzeb was austere and pious,
and had no time or inclination for the ostentation of his forefathers, preferring to spend his money on wars in South India. In any case, even during Shah Jehan's reign, which was the period when the Mughal empire was at its height, the construction of the Taj put a strain on the resources of the empire and caused a min- famine around Agra. Shah Jehan was eventually buried in the white Taj, next to his beloved Begum. Shah Jehan, in addition to giving Agra its greatest claim to fame, was also responsible for beginning its decline, as decided to shift his capital to Shahjehanabad, which we now know as Old Delhi, in 1658. Though Aurangzeb ordered a move back, this
too was short lived, as he moved his headquarters down south to Aurangabad to be focus on his wars. Agra declined, and so did the Mughal Empire. The city was eventually captured by the Marathas, who renamed it back to Agra. In 1803, it came under the British, who situated the Agra Presidency there, and when India gained independence, the city was incorporated into the state of Uttar Pradesh, and did not gain even the limited honour of being the state's capital, that distinction going to Lucknow, further east. It is now a tourist town, known for the Taj and a couple of other monuments. Anyone interested in reading a novel based on the remarkable story behind
the Taj Mahal's creation should consider Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors. Beneath a Marble Sky is an international bestseller, has won multiple awards, and is being made into a movie by Hollywood. Other book (historical fiction) is The Taj by Colin De Silva. Agra is 200 km southeast from Delhi and is one of the points of the tourist's Golden Triangle of Agra-Delhi-Jaipur. Agra is also very well connected via rail and road with other nearby cities and tourist destinations. Get in
Service to Agra's Kheria Airport (IATA: AGR ICAO: VIAG ) is 5 days a
week. As of January 2014, the city is served by Air India, which flies on the Delhi-Agra- via Varanasi, Agra - Khajuraho - Varanasi - Delhi ( 3 days a week ,ie Monday ,Wednesday and Saturday). Another Air India flight, Mumbai - Agra - Mumbai (Tuesday and Thursday) provides international connections via Mumbai and usually observes full load factor. The flights now are usually on time and provides connectivity via Delhi and Mumbai. One can save a lot of time travelling by air to Agra .
trains connect Agra with these cities every day. Some east-bound trains from Delhi also travel via Agra, so direct connections to points in Eastern India (including Kolkata) are also available. There are close to 20 trains to Delhi every day, and at least three or four to both Mumbai and Chennai. Agra and Delhi are notorious for their thick winter fog which reduces visibility to almost zero. If travelling in late December or early January (the fog season), travelers should be aware that, because of the reduced visibility, all trains slow down and travel time goes up. The Bhopal Shatabdi, for example, may arrive in Agra well after 10AM, and might return to Delhi well after midnight.
Agra is on the main train line between the Delhi-Mumbai (Bombay) and Delhi-Chennai routes, and many
From a safety point of view, it is always preferable to travel by train during the winters. Driving in fog on the road is very risky. There are three stations in Agra: Agra Cantt (Station Code : AGC) is the main railway station and lies southwest of the Taj and Agra Fort, both of which are a short ride from the station by car, auto-rickshaw, or cycle rickshaw. There is a prepaid taxi stand right outside that charges a flat ₹150 to any hotel in the city. You may catch an auto-rickshaw for ₹50 if you walk a short way from the station, but they may not speak Stations
English. The station has a pretty good Comesum food court that also sells cheap, hygienic takeaway snacks (sandwiches, samosas, etc). Agra Fort station (Station Code : AF) near Agra Fort, is infrequently serviced by the interstate express trains. The station serves trains to the east (Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Kolkata) some of these trains also stop at Agra Cantt. Raja Ki Mandi (Station Code : RKM) is a small station. Some of the trains which stop at Agra Cantt also stop here. The station has a laid-back and lazy
Buland Darwaza (Gate of Magnificence). Panorama, airpano http://www.airpano.com
atmosphere, but springs into life at the arrival of Intercity exp and Taj express. It is situated in the middle of the city. Agra City is in the heart of Agra. A relic of the metre gauge era, this station is not particularly useful. Idgah Railway Station is the first station if you arrive in Agra from Jaipur. Delhi to Agra  - Close to 20 trains connect to Delhi and Agra each day with journey times varying from 2 hours to 5 hours. The best options are the Bhopal Shatabdi Express (departs New
Delhi at 0615 arriving Agra Cantt at 0812; departs Agra Cantt at 2030 arriving New Delhi at 2230, daily except Friday; meal and water included in AC Chair Car) and the Taj Express (departs Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin at 0715 arriving Agra Cantt at 1007; departs Agra Cantt at 1855 arriving Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin at 2200, daily). Details of best available train to Agra goes as: 12002 +BHOPAL SHTBDI NEW DELHI 06:15 AGRA CANTT 08:12 01:57 12280 +TAJ EXPRESS H NIZAMUDDIN 07:10 AGRA CANTT 10:07 02:57
14212 +INTERCITY EXP NEW DELHI 17:40 AGRA CANTT 21:50 04:10 12191 +NDLS JBP SUP NEW DELHI 14:05 AGRA CANTT 17:10 03:05 Train tickets can be booked online through Indian Railways (www.irctc.co.in), paying by debit or credit card. Once one is at Agra station one could hire UP tourism conducted tours on air-conditioned luxury coaches. Also, an organized tour is available  from Delhi. Delhi to Agra by road - A new highway is being constructed from Greater Noida to Taj Mahal City. It should take 2 to 3 hours & could be very popular
among tourist as the road condition matches all international standard. Agra to Jaipur  - The journey to Jaipur (Station Code : JP) takes around 4 hour by train no. 2988 which leaves Agra Fort Railway Station at 6:25 PM and reaches Jaipur at around 10:20PM. Also train number 2965 from agra cantonment to Jaipur at 5:40 PM. The train arrives at 10:15 PM. ₹300 AC chair. The Luxury train - Palace on Wheels  stops at Agra on its eight day round trip of tourist destinations in Rajasthan and Agra.
A day's excursion from Delhi to Agra It is easy to visit Agra for comfortable [same day Agra trip by train] from Delhi. Rise early in the morning and hop on to an air-con chair car seat on the Bhopal Shatabdi leaving at 06:00 from New Delhi Railway Station. Breakfast is served on the train, which is included in the fare, is usually an omelette with a couple of slices of bread and coffee or tea. Arrive in Agra and then either rent a car for the day or use rickshaws to get around. A visit to the Taj, followed by Agra Fort does not take a great deal of time. Add a visit to Akbar's tomb and/or itmad-ud- daulah, for which an auto-rickshaw or taxi required, and you will still have
time for lunch before catching the return train at 20:30 for dinner, which again is included in the fare. With a hired car it is even possible also visit Fatehpur Sikri. Either that or catch the Taj Express from Hazrat nizamuddin station, (previously used to leave from new delhi, now from a secondary terminus) . Book (reserve) tickets both ways, delhi to agra cantt and back to delhi.(same day) Leaves Delhi (hazrat nizamuddin) at around 7.00 AM. Reaches Agra Cantt, at around 10.00 AM. On reaching Agra Cantt station go to platform number 1, the main platform before coming out of the station. There is a UP tourism information counter. Go inside the
counter and book a ticket on the Agra tour bus. This bus will take you to Fatehpur sikri(40 kms from town) and also agra fort and of course the Taj Mahal. There is a stop for lunch after visiting fatehpur sikri. They have a knowledgeable tour guide, who speaks good english and of course hindi. You can get to see the 3 most important monuments, leaving out the minor ones. Best part is the tour is co- ordinated in accordance with the timing of the Taj express, so it leaves you back in Agra cantt station to catch the return train back to Delhi. Tickets are about Rs. 400/- for Indians; for foreigners it will be higher. If you get the tickets for Agra but your tickets are in waiting list then don't forget to
keep checking the Pnr status of tickets to make sure there is no mess later on station while catching the train on journey date. This is much better than falling for the touts outside Agra station, who take even Indians for a ride (though we speak the language) not to talk of foreigners. A number of buses connect Agra with Delhi. It takes around 4-5 hours to reach Agra by bus. There are basically three interstate bus stands: Idgah Bus Stand is the primary bus stand for travelling towards Rajasthan/Madhya Pradesh, in the heart of the city, 8 km from the Taj. The well run Rajasthan By bus
Government (RSRTC) bus to Jaipur (roughly one bus per hour) departs from Hotel Sakura near Idgah bus stand. There's a small ticket booth outside the hotel. Do note that a common scam happens when you arrive at a stop outside Jaipur city a man will inform everyone that this is the last stop in Jaipur. Do not get down, since the bus will go further inside the city and the man is trying to get you to a commission paying hotel. ISBT at Transport Nagar, 12 km from the Taj, is an interstate bus terminal. Most of the buses pass through here, except for buses
originating from Idgah Bus Stand and going towards Rajasthan. Note : Do not rely on Private Luxury Buses and Travel Agencies as they are very expensive and may drop you to your destination late. They'll also tell you that the bus is direct to the destination but it's not. For local sightseeing in Agra, it is better to hire a taxi on a full day basis (8 Hour 80 Km). A reliable way of booking your cab is to book it online. Also, you can either book a taxi from hotel or directly book one outside the railway station. There is government authorized taxi stand. ₹950/day for 8 hours. It may be more costly to book By Taxi
Agra-Itmad ud Daulah-Yamuna river pavillon, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
through hotel as hotels do have their in the fares. It is better to negotiate with the driver directly or book trough some online car rental portal. Meanwhile, to visit you can find some local taxi available for your convenience. Cars are not allowed near the Taj Complex, but the rest of Agra is easily discovered by car. Rental is available from various companies. If you plan to travel to Agra on the taxi from Delhi International airport, make sure you engage the taxi that can take you inter-city or 'outstation' (the white ones). The prepaid taxi kiosk for the
auspices of the prepaid taxi system) a local taxi (green and yellow ones) to take you to Agra - in this case the taxi will have to take a big detour to get a government permit to travel intercity before heading to Agra. Not only substantial time wasted, the taxi are also smaller and uncomfortable. The taxi kiosk for local travel should redirect you to the intercity taxi, but being unscrupulous they want to made a cut of the fare when they arrange one for you.
From Delhi : NH2, a modern divided highway, connects the 200 km distance from Delhi to Agra. The drive is typically 4-5
local taxi services are known to arrange (privately outside the
hours, a large chunk of which includes navigating the clogged roads around Delhi to get to the highway. The primary access to the highway is along Mathura Road in Delhi but, if coming from South Delhi or Delhi Airport, it is easier to take Aurobindo Marg (Mehrauli Road) and then work up to NH2 via Tughlakabad. While the highway is divided, it is important to keep an eye out for trucks, cars, and bullock carts heading the wrong way! It is possible to hire a car with a driver (a big car for five persons from/to the Delhi airport costs ₹3500). But beware! If you need to get from Agra to the airport in order to catch a flight,
be sure to allow plenty of time for the trip, as traffic conditions may increase the drive time significantly. Also, it is wise to know your driver. There are situations when he may take over five hours to cover the distance, and you cannot force him to drive any faster than an autorickshaw (tuk-tuk). Latest news is the new Yamuna Expressway from greater Noida (Delhi) to Agra. A very modern six lane expressway, also known as Taj expressway. Specially for 3-5 people travelling by train (first class) and spending on tickets, better way is to rent a car - called tourist taxi in india. with yellow licence plates.(private cars have white licence plates)Two models of estate cars are very popular:
Chevrolet Tavera and Toyota Innova. Choose Innova. Specially recommended if you travel with kids. The taxi comes with driver attached. From Delhi, via the new expressway, it should be two hours by car. Ordinary local bus takes 3 hours. Start early morning , around 5.00 Am, two hours to agra, you will be in agra by sunrise. All monuments are open from sunrise to sunset. Go around town in your own car , at your own leisure, can cover all monuments in one day, and after sunset start back for Delhi, should be in Delhi in time for dinner. This obviates the need to carry luggage around since it is only a day trip. Just check if the driver is knowledgeable old hand who knows
his way around, and you may just have to pay for his lunch, breakfast etc. This will be little more expensive than train, but at your own leisure. Also INSIST on going by the new expressway, or tell them you WON'T pay him after you reach Delhi. Because the old highway takes anywhere between 4-6 hours. You will have to pay the toll on the way, about Rs. 320/- one way, for bus/truck it is Rs.1050/-. From Jaipur : National Highway 11, a four lane divided highway, connects Agra with Jaipur via the bird sanctuary town of Bharatpur. The distance of around 255 Km can be covered in around 4 hours.
if you come from jaipur to Agra or Agra to jaipur, you will have better choice to have breakfast or Lunch on very good heritage Rajputana Midway near Village Pipalkhera(Mahua) around 120 km, takes around 1.5 hours on the National highway 3 ( Agra- Mumbai Highway) From Lucknow / Kanpur : NH2, the divided modern highway, continues on to Kanpur (285km, 5 hours) and from there to points East ending in Kolkata. From Kanpur, NH25 heads for the city of Lucknow (90 km, 2 hours). From Gwalior : A distance of
Tongas, electric buses and electric tempos are readily available, and the best way to get to the Taj where no cars are allowed. Auto-rickshaws and cycle- rickshaws are available everywhere, remember to agree on fares clearly in advance. In case you are a foreigner, please ensure that you bargain everywhere and bargain hard! Generally things are available at 40% of the initially quoted fares. UP Tourism conduct daily full day (Fatehpur Sikri, Agra Fort and Tajmahal; Rs 500/- per head) and half day tour (Agra Fort and Tajmahal; Rs 350/- per head; fees based on Dec, 2015) in AC buses. But both the cases, they took you to Tajmahal at the end of the tour in the evening. So,
India, Taj Mahal from the altitude of 200 meters, airpano http://www.airpano.com
you may not get sufficient time for watching Tajmahal properly. Except IRCTC also conduct city tour in cars, but you need to book the cars by yourself and a bit costlier than the bus tour of UP tourism. Both the UP tourism and IRCTC have it's booking office in the platform no 1 of Agra Cantonment Railway Station. The best way to experience the city is to take a walk on the Mall Road (Sadar). The street is full of handicraft and leather goods shops. You will also find plenty of food items quite unique to the city. Indian palate is generally very spicy. Please ensure that you carry antacid tablets in case you are not habitual to the spicy foods
As a guide, an auto rickshaw from Agra Cantonement station to the Taj Mahal is about Rs 80 (at least in off season); and a cycle rickshaw from the Taj Mahal to Agra Fort is Rs 40. An air conditioned taxi for the day should cost around Rs 1200. They will charge slightly more if you want to go to Fatehpur Sikri as it's a bit further out. Be warned that the drivers will probably try to make unscheduled stops along the way at marble and textile shops for which they receive commissions. Firmly tell them that you're not interested in shopping - though this might not get you anywhere so try to just go with the flow - you won't be pressured into
buying anything but if you have a tight schedule it can be annoying.
Savaari.com ( Savaari Car Rental ), ☎ 0 90 4545 0000 ( email@example.com ),  . Book cab at Savaari to explore Agra and enjoy your trip with clean car, courteous driver and on-time availability of cab . IndiaTaxiOnline.com ( India Taxi Online ), ☎ 0 95 40000 804 ( firstname.lastname@example.org ),  . Book cab online India Taxi Online offer Agra sightseeing trip with clean car, courteous driver and on-time availability of cab .
List of private taxis
If you need a taxi or a rickshaw to explore Agra:
Auto-Rickshaw Shoketali , ☎ +91 099 278 863 29, An English- speaking, trustful and safe driver with long experience (a master in chaotic Agra traffic!!!!), knows every corner of Agra and its surroundings and will enrich your experience with his historic knowledge. He can also recommend places honestly and according to your budget, no scams or tricks.
Agra's top two sights by far are the incomparable Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. When planning your sightseeing,
take heed of the convoluted entry fee system: for Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Itmud-ad-Daulah, Sikandra and Fatehpur Sikri, you must pay a ₹500 levy to the Agra Development Authority in addition to the prices mentioned below. Once paid, the levy is valid for all sights, but only for one day . However, If you are not going to the Taj Mahal or happen to turn up on a Friday, then you do not have to pay the ₹500 levy but a smaller one if you are going to the other sites. Eg ₹50 for Red Fort
Agra Fort (250 entrance + 50 levy). One gets ₹50 discount when presenting ticket for Taj Mahal at Agra Fort. The Taj Mahal entry fee also includes a 500mL bottle of water and shoe covers. Make sure you pick them up when you buy your ticket. For Indians, its Rs 20. Official guides are available in Agra for INR 1035 (approx US$ 20) for a half day (including Taj Mahal & Agra Fort). Not many official Approved guides stand outside the monuments so if you require a official tour guide then you can book one of any foreign language spoken tour guides directly with contact no. from the Approved Official Tour Guides
Prices of monuments tickets
Current prices (June 2012) are: Rs 750 (for foreigners) for Taj Mahal (250 entrance + 500 levy) and ₹300 for
guides office,Agra. Office of Approved Guide Association Agra . Guides are recognized and approved by Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India. Guides provided by most of travel agencies or hotels in Agra usually insist to visit a fix shop and get big commission, this commission is distributed among unofficial Guides (lapka), travel agents or hotel's staff. Note: to make your tour more enjoyable Please book 'guides services' on line for Agra trip, as They are more trustworthy than a guide provided by Hotels in Agra,All travel desk are taken by Shop owner & they force to visit that particulate big shop.
Any guide that charges less than that is probably an unlicensed tout. Most unlicensed touts stand outside the gate of Taj Mahal & Agra fort with fake IDs and focus more on taking you for shopping rather than on presenting accurate history & information, Effective April 2011, the Archaeological Survey of India introduced an official self-guided audio tour facility of international standards for visitors. The tour allows visitors to experience the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort at their own pace, with authentic and factually accurate information. Visitors may avail of the audio guide facility from the official Audio Guides
audio guide booth near the monument ticket counters. Prices for audio guide services are ₹105 (approx US$ 2) in English & Foreign Languages (currently French, Spanish, Italian, German) or ₹63 in Hindi & Indian Languages. Reviews for the audio guides have been very positive on Tripadvisor and other travel websites and this is the recommended way to see the two Agra monuments. Recently, smartphone application and iPod tours have become available, including the official Taj Mahal app offered by AudioCompass  - the same company that provides the audio guides.
Official Smartphone App
Recently, a plethora of smartphone apps has become available to help visitors tour the monuments. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) offers perhaps the most comprehensive ones through AudioCompass. Both the Taj Mahal Official Tour and the similar Agra Fort Official Tour are available for download for iOS and for Android. As of October 2015, the iOS versions of these tours can be purchased through the iTunes App Store for US$ 1.99 each, or packaged together with
additional material describing Fatehpur Sikri for US$ 4.99.
Aksh's pic 1, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Rules and Regulations at the Taj Mahal Security is tight and rules and regulations are very important and must be followed at the Taj Mahal. There are many rules to be followed at the premises of the monument to maintain the holiness of the monument and other rules are mostly for the maintenance and protection of the monument. Remaining rules and regulations are to be followed for the protection of all the tourists visiting the Taj Mahal.
•Arms, ammunition, fire, smoking items, tobacco products, liquor, food, chewing gum, knives, wire, mobile charger, electric goods (except video cameras, photography cameras and similar consumer electronic products like MP3 players, iPhones, Smartphones etc. and music players) are prohibited inside the Taj Mahal complex. Leave these in the hotel or in your driver's car. Avoid carrying a bag altogether if you can as the bag scanning process is cumbersome.
•Playing cards, games, dice, etc. may be prohibited depending on the guard. •Mobile phones are allowed. They don't really seem to enforce this with camera phones. •Eating and smoking is strictly prohibited inside the Taj Mahal complex. •Lockers are available at the gates to keep your belongings (of course, at your own risk). •Avoid carrying big bags and books inside the monument as this may increase your
security check time.
•Video camera (handicam) is allowed up to the red sand stone platform at the main entrance gate of the Taj Mahal complex. There is a charge of 25 Rupees per video camera. •Photography is prohibited inside the main mausoleum, and visitors are requested not to make noise inside the mausoleum. •Tourists must co-operate in keeping the monument neat and clean by making use of dustbins.
•Avoid touching and scratching the walls and
(it's not) - ignore them and walk away. •Tourists are allowed to carry a water bottle inside the monument. Shoe covers, 1/2 litre water bottle and Tourist Guide Map of Agra are provided free of cost with the foreigner's entry ticket for the Taj Mahal. After getting your ticket, proceed to the side of the ticket window to collect your water and shoe covers. •Wheelchairs for disabled persons and First Aid Boxes are available at A.S.I. Office inside the Taj Mahal complex. A refundable
surfaces of the monument as these are old heritage sites that need special care. •Tourists are advised to hire official audio guides available at the ASI ticket counter or to use only pre-arranged approved guides. Pre- arranged approved guides charge Rs. 900 and the audio guide costs Rs. 100 + taxes Warning - touts regularly exhibit fake identity cards. Some will try to convince you that a guide is included in the ticket price
charge of ₹1000 is to be deposited as security before wheelchairs are made available for the disabled. •All the above mentioned items along with the mobile phones are banned for the night viewing of the Taj Mahal. •Video cameras are permitted after the security check during night viewing of the Taj Mahal, though extra batteries are prohibited. •Remember that the Taj Mahal is a religious site and it is best to dress
conservatively when visiting the Taj Mahal complex, not only because the Taj Mahal itself is a mausoleum, but also because there are mosques inside the Taj Mahal complex, if you wish to visit them as well.
Please note that the Taj Mahal is closed every Friday. ' If you buy the foreigner high price ticket, you go in a separate, much smaller line and they give you shoe covers and water. Touts (tour guides) will say they can cut the line because they're guides, but
Taj Mahal, India, airpano http://www.airpano.com
you get in the smaller line anyway with your 750 Rupee ticket.' The Taj Mahal is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife. Taj Mahal means Crown Palace. One of his wife's names was Mumtaz Mahal, Ornament of the Palace. The Taj is one of the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tombs in the world, one of the masterpieces of Indian Muslim architecture, and one of the great sites of the world's heritage. The Taj Mahal has a life of its own that leaps out of marble, provided you understand that it is a monument of
love. The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore called it a teardrop on the cheek of eternity , while the English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold, said it was Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor's love wrought in living stones. It is a celebration of woman built in marble, and that is the way to appreciate it. Although it is one of the most photographed edifices in the world and instantly recognisable, actually seeing it is awe-inspiring. Not everything is in the photos. The grounds of the complex include several other beautiful buildings, reflecting pools, extensive ornamental gardens with flowering trees and
bushes, and a small gift shop. The Taj framed by trees and reflected in a pool is amazing. Close up, large parts of the building are covered with inlaid stonework. There is an apocryphal tale that Shah Jahan planned to build an exact copy of the Taj Mahal out of black marble on the opposite side of the river as his own tomb. His plans were foiled by his son, who murdered three elder brothers and overthrew his father to acquire the throne. Shah Jahan is now buried alongside his wife in the Taj Mahal. If you are taking a camera, beware that because the Taj is white your camera may underexpose your
photos. If it is a film camera you will not find out until it is too late. Overexposure by 1 or 2 stops is recommended. The Taj is open from 6:00 AM to 6:30 PM (sunset) every day except Friday . The gates won't open until 6:00 AM at the earliest, often a few minutes later, so don't bother getting there at 5:00 AM. Entry costs ₹750 for foreigners and ₹20 for Indians. Get there as early as possible to beat the crowds. Crowds are the biggest during the weekend when people overshadow the grandeur of the Taj. Plan to visit the Taj at least two different times during the day (dusk and dawn are best) in order to experience the full effect of changing sunlight on the
amazing building. It is utterly stunning under a full moon. You can also get very good views from Mehtab Bagh (see Gardens section below). It is a good idea to bring a flashlight, because the interior of the Taj Mahal is quite dark even during the day. To fully appreciate the details of the gem inlays, you need a good light. To buy tickets, you can go to the South gate, but this gate is 1 km far away of the entrance and the counter opens at 8:00 AM. At the West and East gates, the counters open at 6:00 AM. These gates also have smaller queues in peak times as the big tour buses drop groups off at the South gate. Alongside the ticket counter, you can also purchase a self-guided audio
tour (allows two to a device) for ₹100 in English and foreign languages and ₹60 for Indian languages. The Taj is located in the middle of town. Expect a line to get into the grounds. There are three gates. The western gate is the main gate where most tourists enter. A large number of people turn up on weekends and public holidays, and entry through the western gate may take hours. The southern and eastern gates are much less busy and should be tried on such days. There are night viewing sessions during full moons and two days before and after (five days in total). Exceptions are Fridays (the Muslim
sabbath) and the month of Ramadan. Tickets must be purchased 24 hours in advance from the Archeological Society of India office situated at 22, Mall Road, Agra. Ticket fare is Rs. 500 for Indian Nationals and Rs. 750 for Non-Indians. Night tickets go on sale starting at 10am, but they do not always sell out, so it can be worth looking into it when you arrive even if well after 10am. Tickets only allow viewing from the red sandstone plaza at the south end of the complex, and only for a 1/2 hour window. Make sure to wear mosquito repellent. Viewing hours for night viewing is from 8:30pm-9:00pm and 9:00pm-9:30pm. Arrive 30 minutes early for security check at Taj Mahal Ticketing counter
on East Gate or you may lose your chance. The night view is not worth spending as the visitors are kept quite far from Taj Mahal nearly 200 Mts away and there in no light so it could hardly be seen during night hours at viewing hours. Cameras also do not give images with near zero flux can easily be avoided for night viewing. The fort is similar in layout to the Red Fort in Delhi, but considerably better preserved, as much of Delhi Fort was razed by the British after the Mutiny. As much as palace as a defensive structure, it is also constructed mainly from red sandstone. Agra Fort
Emperor Akbar, king at 14, began consolidating his empire and, as an assertion of his power built the fort in Agra between 1565 and 1571, at the same time as Humayun's Tomb in Delhi. Emperor Shah Jahan added to the fort and ended up a prisoner in it. The fort has a beautiful view of his masterpiece, the Taj Mahal, on a clear day. You can get to the fort by Rickshaw from Taj Mahal for around ₹25-30. Entry to the fort is ₹250 (plus levy of ₹50 if you have not already paid the ₹500 fee for Taj Mahal). There are left luggage services at Agra Fort where you can stow your
bags at no cost. A fine of ₹5,000 applies if you lose your luggage ticket. There are also audio guides available at Agra Fort which you can rent for a cost of ₹100 in English and other foreign languages (German, French, Spanish, etc) or ₹60 in Indian languages such as Hindi or Bengali. Soami Bagh , ( 10 km north of Agra ). The white marble samadhi of the Radha Soami religion is currently under construction. It was started in 1904 and is not expected to be completed until sometime next century. You can see pietra dura inlaid marble work actually being worked on. Soami Gardens
Taj Mahal, India, airpano, http://www.airpano.com
Bagh is 2km north of Agra and can be reached by bus or cycle. Ram Bagh . The first Mughal gardens, built by the first Mughal Emperor Babar, 500 m North of the Chini Ka Rauza. Mehtab Bagh , ( directly across the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal, the trip takes about 30 minutes from the centre of town by autorickshaw and will cost about ₹200 ). Sunrise to Sunset. These botanical gardens give you an opportunity to view the Taj at a remove from the crowds of tourists.. Alternatively, walk past the entrance and straight to the sandy banks of the river: the view
of the Taj is every bit as lovely (perhaps more so, since the barbed wire fence surrounding the gardens will be behind you), although you may have to deal with aggressive touts. In the rainy season when the river is full you can get good photos of the Taj at sunset, as the reflection mirrors off the water. Take a round trip by auto rickshaw, as there are usually aren't any rickshaws looking for fares here. Entrance to the park is ₹100 for foreigners.
Balkeshwar Temple , ( At Balkeshwar, at river side of
Yamuna ). A temple of Lord Shiva
Prithvinath Temple , ( At Shahganj. On road to Jaipur. ). Rajeshwar Temple , ( At Village Rajpur. On road to Shamshabd. ). Shyam Ji Maharaj Temple ( At Bijlighar ). Mahakal And Mahakali Temple , ( At Sikandra railway crossing on Sikandra Bodla road ).
Kailash Temple , ( at Sikandra, at the river Yamuna ). A Lord Shiva Temple. Mankameshwar Temple , ( At Rawatpara, near Agra Fort railway station. Near the raja ki mandi; a simple cycle rikshaw can take you there for a fare of 20/-. ). Listen to the aarti, it purifies your soul. It is the MOST VISITED temple by LOCALS.....and during festive seasons it’s so crowded disrupting the traffic in the nearby areas....
Rawli Maharaj Temple , ( At
Collectrate crossing, beside the railway track ). Very old temple.
Sikandra , ( 10 km north of Agra on the Agra Delhi highway ). Open from sunrise to sunset. The tomb
of Akbar lies here in the centre of the large garden. Akbar started its construction himself but it was completed by his son Jehangir, who significantly modified the original plans which accounts for the somewhat cluttered architectural lines of the tomb. Four red sandstone gates lead to the tomb complex: one is Muslim, one Hindu, one Christian, and one is Akbar's patent mixture. Empress Nur Jehan built Itmad- Ud-Daulah's Tomb, sometimes called the Baby Taj , for her father, Ghias-ud-Din Beg, the Chief Minister of Emperor Jahangir. Small in comparison to
many other Mughal-era tombs, it is sometimes described as a jewel box. Its garden layout and use of white marble, pietra dura, inlay designs and latticework presage many elements of the Taj Mahal.
Mariam's Tomb , ( West from Akbar's Tomb on Agra-Delhi highway ). Constructed by
Jahangir in the memory of his mother Mariam Zammani a title bestowed upon her,. The grave is made of white marble. Though this building is in a ruined condition, yet it has in its vicinity, a Christian Mission School and a church. It is also said; Akbar
Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb .
himself made that it in the memory of his Christian wife.
Gurudwara Guru ka Taal , ( at Delhi-Agra Highway, located between Transport Nagar and Sikandra ).
Jama Masjid . A large mosque attributed to Princess Jahanara Begum, built in 1648 during the reign of the father Shah Jahan. Notable for its unusual dome and absence of minarets. dedicated to the Prime Minister of Shah Jahan, Allama Afzel Khal Mullah Shukrullah of Shiraz, notable for its dome of blue glazed tiles. This monument is off the beaten path, and hordes of local children can surround western women. Chini Ka Roza . A memorial
Adlabs multiplex . Interactive Theatre, which is the first ever interactive cinema theatre in the world, each viewer holds a wireless remote unit with push buttons and a small LCD screen, enabling them to participate in a trivia game about the theme of the film. The show is called India in Motion , a 25 minute show where the audience will pass through today's India in, or on, a variety of typical vehicles and see
A panoramic view from the "Celestial Pool of Abundance" Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
the historical events at sites like Mohenjo Daro, Indraprastha and the Taj Mahal, experiencing the bumpy elephant rides with the wind blowing through their hair, or the swaying boat with salty spray on their faces. Before the actual show there is a interactive quiz on various topic relating to India. ₹150 for a Hindi Show & ₹450 for a show in English. festival held in February/March every year at Shilpgram, near the Taj Mahal. For 2012 it is starting from 15th of March and continues till 25th of March. It is a festival of art, craft, culture, etc.
Discover Agra in Battery Powered Rickshaws .
Experience not just the heritage monuments but also the city’s culture, cuisine, craft and life of the local people. Agra Food Tour ,  . A food tour of Agra which helps tourists discover ancient monuments as well as the cuisine of Agra and nearby places. Agra has many shops selling various stone products, from jewellery to small boxes and plaques with inlay work resembling that on the Taj. The best of these are wonderful, and even the run-of-the-mill ones are rather pretty. Buy
Taj Mahotsav ,  . 10 day
Agra is also famous for its leather goods. Consider spending time in Sadar Bazaar for some shopping and enjoying cheap food. Beware of being overcharged. Do not let anyone lead you to a shop, lest the price go up to cover their commission, typically 50%. Be very wary of the promises these people make. Bargain hard. Be prepared to walk away, you can nearly always get the same items in another shop. Also remember that in these globalized times, you can always order stuff you liked in your visit over the internet after you return. Expect to encounter petty and greedy shop owners who will resort to every lie in the book to make a sale (with initial markups of 1000-10000%).
Mughal Bazar on the Taj East Gate road, about 2km from the East Gate is a better place to shop for your obligatory Taj Mahal figurine vs. the little stores nearby the gate. Much more relaxed and friendly with better prices for the same goods, and no petty lies to make a sale. Many local markets are there: SADAR BAZAR..a sophisticated market, Raja ki Mandi market, Sanjay Place for all the offices, Shah Market for electronics. All these markets are situated along the M G Road. Hospital Road Market and Subhash Bazar for clothing situated near Agra Fort railway station. Rawatpara market is for spices of all origin. Besides these
there are many branded showrooms situated along the M G Road.. Many wholesale marble products are available at Gokul Pura (Market)near Raja Mandi (this place is near to M. G Road) which can be easily reached by auto rickshaw, the prices of any product is nearly 25% of that in the retail market. Be careful with the jewels: Lots of stones are fakes and the price is very high! Marble Cottage ( Factory & Retail outlet ), ( near GMB restaurant and Domino's Pizza ). descendant of the same artist who worked on the walls of Taj Mahal....You will
get very good Prices and Some Indian Handmade Gifts Products
Agra specialities are petha , a type of very sweet candy, and Dal Moth , a spicy lentil mix. Both are also popular souvenirs. Chaat . Agra is a heaven for any Chaat lover. Chaat can be of various types but there is one thing common among them all is that they are spicy and you will find crowd outside virtually every chaat stall, especially popular places like Double Phatak (near Sikandra) for Mangores. You'll find quality Bhallas and Panipuri at Sadar and Belangunj. Samosa and Kachori are found at every sweet
shop that floods the city. Some typical chaat items are Aloo Tikki (pan-fried potato cakes), paneer tikka (cubes of cottage cheese baked in a tandoor with spices), pani puri or golguppa (small round hollow shells filled with a potato-based filling and a spicy sweet blend of sauces), mangores, Samosaes, Chachori etc. If you want to savour the typical Agra Breakfast do remember to have a bite of one of those spicy Berahi and round it off with sweet Jalebies . Sweets . There are quite a few good sweets shops all-round the city. The best stores for buying the famous petha of Agra are at Hari Parwat, a short ride from Agra Fort. Amongst the well-known stores are Panchi's ,
Bhimsain BaidyaNath and The Pracheen Petha store. There are many types of petha available but, for the authentic experience, try either the plain one (ivory white) or Angoori Flavored (rectangular and yellow pieces soaked in sugar syrup). Other stores in Agra include: Bikanervala,Sri Dauji mishtan, Deviram, Munnalal Petha, Gopaldas, and Ajanta Sweets, Kamla Nagar. Do remember to round off your meal with a Joda(Pair) of Pan unique to the city. There is also an abundance of Korean food at most restaurants. There are several restaurants in the Taj Ganj area, catering for the many tourists staying around the Taj Mahal.
Only Restaurant , ☎ 0562- 2364333 / 2266508,  . 600- 800 for main dish of 2. Joney's place Taj ganj. Perfect for early breakfast, when you want to wake up early to visit the Taj at 6 Am. ₹10 Toast, ₹10 coffee, ₹15 cornflakes. However, be skeptical about the mains despite their self-bragging. The 'speciality' dishes they serve -- be it Indian or Korean -- are by all means their 'adulterated' editions. Kamat Hotel Roof top restaurant with view on the Taj. Correct quality. Beer available. ₹70 for a vegetable curry.
Treat Restaurant , South Gate
Taj Mahal, ☎ 9319697497 ( email@example.com ).
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. 20- 60 for main dish, great Indian food.. The Silk Route Restaurant ( TSR ), 18-A/7-B Fatehabad Road ( Opposite Howard Park Plaza ), ☎ 0562 4002786,  . . Shankara Vegis , South Gate Taj Mahal, ☎ 0562331384 ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). breakfast, lunch and dinner. 40-
150, Great Thali dishes and shakes on the roof top with a wonderful view of the Taj.
Taj Mahal, India, airpano, http://www.airpano.com
Priya Restaurant , Fatehabad road near by shanti manglik hospital, ☎ 05622231579,08057108649,  . Three star restaurant with all facility like air condition hall with
Rs 25-80. Banana pancake Rs 25, Curry Rs60, Naan Rs 5. Terrace Grill ( Hotel Howard Plaza ), Fatehabad Road, Agra, ☎ +91-562-4048600,  . A rooftop restro-bar with Taj Mahal at its backdrop. Good Music, a variety of cuisine to select from and good selection in bar menu. A place to relax, and enjoy a couple of drinks with good food. Quisar Bagh , Taj road ( Purani mandi crossing ), ☎ 9897365604,  . 6AM-10PM. The food is cooked in clay ovens or tandoori
big LCD and all types food available except south Indian ₹250 per person.
Gulshan Highest , ( Literally opposite the south gate exit ), ☎ 8449997950. 9808738895. 9359719161. A great cheap place near the Taj. They do western food pretty well, and their rice pudding/pancakes are good. Sit up on the roof and you get a glimpse of the Taj over the roofs.
in the traditional style of the Indian North-West Frontier region. This style of cooking
requires great expertise on the part of the chefs, since the meat is not accompanied by any sauce or gravy, but only pre-marinated and cooked before serving. Budget. Nagri Phase one near Shilpgram Road , Agra ( Behind Taj Mahal East Gate Parking ), ☎ 09917885278,  . 24by7. Bob Marley Restaurant makes Yumm Yumm, Indian, Chinese, Mughali and American specialist. Roof Top from which can See the Taj Mahal and Agra City skyline. $ 0- 10.
Bob Marley Restaurant ( www.friendspayingguesthouse.c om ), p6 Taj Nagri Phase one colony near Shilpgram road ( bob marley restaurant located inside friends paying guest house ), ☎ +91-9917885278,  . 7 amto 10pm. welcome to Bob Marley Restaurant ( no woman no cry - no chapati no chai ). Best Mom Made Food and we also do cooking classes learn with us Indian traditional food , Indian food is so rich , tasty and spicy .we have nice roof top restaurant where you can enjoy view of Taj Mahal and Agra City view 5$. Sheroes Hangout , Opposite The Gateway Hotel, Taj View
Bob Marley Restaurant , Taj
Chowraha, Fatehabad Road, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, ☎ 0562 400 0401,  . 9am-9pm. Sheroes Hangout is an initiative by Stop Acid Attacks campaign that was founded in New Delhi in 2013. As the idea of this space has evolved from a campaign for acid attack survivors, the ideas of beauty and importance of appearance in society remain the epicentre of discussions and programmes run from here. Simple menu. Pay what you wish. A must-visit when in Agra!
Most hotel staff will be happy to find you a cold bottle of Indian beer for around ₹70-100, but there is virtually no nightlife in Agra outside of cultural shows at some of the larger hotels and restaurants. After getting off the streets of Agra and into your hotel, you will not want to go back anyway. Dayal Lodge ( Comfortable & fully featured budget accommodation in Dayalbagh, Agra, India ), 25 - New Agra, Dayalbagh Road, Agra - 5 ( Near Bhagwan Talkis Crossing, Towards Dayalbagh ), ☎ +91-9219606365, 9359848731,  . Checkout: Sleep Budget
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