A crimson sun casting an orange hue, setting behind the luminescent white marble of the epitome of everlasting love 'The Taj Mahal', is probably the 'cliched' picture that leaps to our mind when we think of Agra. Why should it not? After all Taj Mahal remains unsurpassed in beauty. But there is much more to Agra than just the Taj Mahal. Agra has a rich and puristic cultural mix of the Persian and the Mughal era. It is home to many ancient relics and monuments of historical and cultural significance - Taj Mahal, the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, the exquisite tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah are just a few of the many wonders of pristine Mughal architecture that are nestled in the city.

 

Sight seeing
The Taj Mahal - It was in 1653 that the glorious Taj Mahal's construction was completed. Built by the Mughal King Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, Taj Mahal is perhaps India's most beautiful and enchanting monument. Finished in white marble, it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is also one of the three World Heritage sites in Agra. Everything about Taj Mahal is fascinating. Spend the day here and watch the changing colors of the marble with the changing shades of the sun.

The Agra Fort - The Agra Fort was commissioned in 1565 A.D. by the great Mughal ruler Akbar. A stone tablet at the gate of the majestic fort states that it was built before 1000 A.D. and was later renovated by Akbar. The colossal structure, a World Heritage site, is made entirely of red sandstone and houses historical structures such as the Pearl Mosque, Deewa-ae-Aam, Deewan-ae-Khas, Jahangir's Palace, Sheesh Mahal, and Khas Mahal. There is much to see and explore and learn at the Agra Fort.

Fatehpur Sikri- Fatehpur Sikri, aka the Ghost City, was built from scratch by Akbar and is another World Heritage site nestled in Agra. Situated 35 k.m. away from Agra, Fatehpur Sikri is an adroit combination of Islamic and Hindu architecture. Perhaps the most renowned fact about Fatehpur Sikri is the humungous structure Buland Darwaza built by Akbar to commemorate his victory over Gujarat.

Itmad-ud-Daulah's mausoleum - The mausoleum of Itmad-ud-Daulah was built by Empress Noor Jehan for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg, the Chief Minister of the Emperor Jehangir. The exquisite architecture of Itmad-ud-Daulah's mausoleum keeps you enchanted. Itmad-ud-Daulah's tomb is a highly ornate edifice and is regarded as an imminent precursor of the Taj Mahal as far as the carvings and the inlay work is concerned and has earned the nickname of 'Baby Taj'.

A Voyage of Historical Monuments - If you are in Agra, the first thing to do would be to rush to Taj Mahal and savor the fine artistic beauty of the place. Although one can never probably have enough of Taj Mahal, next thing on the 'to do list' should be paying a visit to the World Heritage sites and the other monuments in Agra.


Shopping -
To err is human, to not shop when in Agra, is a sin! To say adieu before exploring the leather goods market and trying out the famous 'Petha', would make the trip to Agra an incomplete journey.

Agra is the hub of handicrafts made of marble and soft-stone inlay work. Agra's famous products besides inlay work are: leather ware, brassware, carpets, jewels, and embroidery work. Agra is the Mecca for shoppers who rave for specialties of the place they visit such as souvenirs and replicas. Tiny white marble 'Taj Mahal' replicas sell like hot cakes all over Agra. Leather items at Agra have earned a name for themselves owing to their quality. The leather goods include sandals, purses, bags, and decorative items.
The main markets for shopping consisting of Sadar Bazar, Kinari Bazar, and Munro Road, in Agra are centered around the Taj Mahal complex. The Uttar Pradesh State Emporium called Gangotri at the Taj Mahal Complex, offers a multitude of handicrafts of great variety. For those who have a taste for the Emporiums, some of the places worth paying a visit would be Akbar International, Kraft Palace, Ganeshilal Emporium, Handicraft Inn, Kohinoor Jewelers, and Marble Emporium.

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