The Taj Mahal being one of the Seven Wonders of the World has certainly put Agra on the map of the hottest tourist destinations. But when you look beyond the Taj Mahal, there is a whole world of tourist places in Agra that are just as enticing and have an equally interesting history. Here is a brief account of other tourist places in Agra that you should definitely check out.
One of the most important Mughal forts in India, the Agra fort is located in a proximal distance from the Taj Mahal. It is a vast fort consisting of the most iconic structures and remnants of the Mughal history like the Diwan-e-Khas( hall of private audiences), the Diwan-e-Aam (hall of general audience), the Shish Mahal ( mirror palace), Khas Mahal, several fairy-tale palaces, courtyards, mosques and towers. Originally there were four entrances to the fort, the Delhi Gate, The Lahore Gate, the Elephant Gate and the Amar Gate. Now Amar gate is the only one through which entry is allowed.
It was the last in the series of the 11 gardens that were built along the banks of the river Yamuna, by Babur. A large pond on the outer edges of the garden offers a stunning reflection of the Taj Mahal. Its broad walkways, beautiful canopies, the fruit trees and the water bodies – all provide for a serene ambience for visitors.
It is another grand piece of architecture built by the Emperor Shah Jahan, who employed the best sculptors, engineers, artisans and workmen to erect the structure. Shah Jahan had dedicated this mosque to his favourite daughter Jahan Ara Begum and originally named it Masjid Jahan Numa. You will also find here, inscription in Persian which sing praises of her. It has a simple yet elegant and artistic design and can accommodate 25,000 people at once. Five large arches lead to the main prayer hall. The mosque is adorned by floral designs and verses from the Quran. History has it that it took six years and a million bucks in the construction of this mosque.
The tomb commemorates the father-in-law of Emperor Jehangir – Mirza Ghiyas Beg. He was also his chief treasurer and the emperor bestowed upon him the title of Itmad-ud-Daulah which means “Pillar of the state” – hence the name. it was the first of the Mughal buildings to be made entirely of white marble as opposed to red sandstone and showcases an extravagant inlay work. Adding further to its charm are several Persian motifs.
This is another fine piece of architecture that stands testimony to the craftsmanship and grand style of the Mughal era. A well preserved structure, it is one of the toptourist places in Agra,that you absolutely cannot miss during your Agra trip. The tomb of Akbar, one of the most important rulers in Indian history and also Mariam (the wife of Akbar) are located within the fort complex. It is an all sandstone structure with intricate carvings which were the signature style of the Mughals.
Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary
Spanning about eight square kilometres the Sur Sarovar Bird sanctuary is located on the Delhi-Agra highway. A beautiful man-made lake, Keetham Lake lies inside the sanctuary and invites about 106 species of migratory birds every year. Inside the sanctuary is the Agra Bear Rescue Center which is operated by Wildlife SOS and provides refuge to sloth bears that are forced into captivity.
A café dedicated to acid attack survivors, it is one of the interesting places that you need to visit in Agra. It is a groovy little, graffiti-decorated café which is run by an NGO and provides employment to acid attack, helping them come out into the world and live a regular life. Not only does it serve good food, you will also be surprised to see that the menu does not have any prices. You pay as much you think fits the bill.
The Old City Markets
If you want to experience the true character and spirit of a city, you must always visit its markets. Here you will see a side of the city quite different from the historic monuments which are all about grandeur. The fascinating, bustling congested streets are full of stores selling spices, clothing, sweets, and snacks. You might even want to pack some to take back home as a souvenir. While you are here try the famous “Petha” a local sweet made of pumpkin. If you want to experience the true flavour of Agra, this place is a must visit.
Apart from these you can also visit the missionaries of charity, or go on heritage walks. If you have time, you can also choose to visit FatehpurSikri which is located quite near to Agra.