Every journey is a beautiful experience. Only, when it comes to the Taj Mahal, the experience is two-fold as colourful and enticing. Welcome to the monument of love that dares to bewitch you with it’s gleaming, sun-kissed marble structure, intricate floral windows laced in luminescence and an alluring love saga that is bound to make your heart skip a beat.
Nestled in north-central India, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the city of Agra presents one of those rare, mystic charms that so beautifully encapsulates the essence of Indian cities. To sum up, Agra is a wonderful combination of rich flavours, bustling bazaars, and an exotic cultural melange.
So here’s a deal. If you have your eyes set on an India tour, we suggest you spare three days and start with the utmost creation, symbolising the country’s magnificence- the Taj Mahal. Just sketch out a quick plan, tighten up your shoelaces and relish the experience like nothing else.
Arrive at the Delhi airport. Agra lacks an international airport, and hence the nearest international airport happens to be in the country’s capital, Delhi. The good news is that Agra is a mere 4 hours away and one can easily settle on a bus or catch a train to arrive here by evening if you start right after breakfast.
Once here, check in a good hotel, near the monument. The Mughal wonder is conveniently located on the southern banks of the river Yamuna, nestled a bare 6 km away from the heart of the city. Needless to say, one can easily find scores of lodging options here, suiting all kinds of pockets.
Here’s what you should explore, once you arrive.
● Visit Akbar’s tomb
Located in the city suburbs at Sikandra, this one is a visual treat, encompassing gorgeous Mughal finery and a sandstone architecture to swoon over. Head here if you can make it before 6 pm, the closing time.
● Relish the local buzz at Meena Bazaar
What better way to truly experience a city’s culture than to head to and savour the taste of its centuries-old bazaars? A bewitching arcade of colours, Meena Bazaar, once known as Kuhs Ruz, is as old as Taj itself. In the Mughal times, the market used to be set up only during the new year’s week, exclusively for the Rajput ladies.
Today, it is a widespread local haven decked up with a variety of stuff on sale- from handicrafts to mouthwatering local cuisine. Pay a visit to steal a quick bargain.
● Witness the beauty early morning
Rise early and head straight to the mausoleum. Taj throws open its gates for visitors from 6 am onwards. A ticket here costs 300 INR for foreign nationals. Catch a glimpse of the magnificent edifice as it gets bathed in the sun’s first rays. The lesser crowd and a crisp air makes morning the best time of the day to relish this world heritage site. Spend the rest of the noon reconnoitering within its premises.
● Saunter about at the Agra Fort
After lunch, head to the Agra Fort, located just a few miles ahead of the mausoleum, by the waters of river Yamuna. One of the finest Mughal forts in the country, this one is sure to woo hearts with its superior courtyards and magnificent architectural design, apart from housing several wonders like the Diwan-e-Aam, Diwan-e-Khas, Shish Mahal, et al. Photography lovers, watch out!
Take back a number of beautiful memories home as you catch a bus or a train that will take you back to Delhi. If, however, you have some spare hours to spend, we suggest you take a food tour of the city and explore the rich flavours of the Mughal cuisine.
Because of Taj’s prime location, one can find a number of hotels in its vicinity. The mausoleum has three entry gates, and the area near its south gate is lined with several pocket-friendly hotels that offer a decent service at an affordable range. If, however, you are looking for a more luxurious stay, we suggest you take a look at the hotels near the east gate of the monument, that offer a majestic view of the monument right from your bedroom’s window. Keep in mind, if you are planning to visit around sunrise, you need to use either the western or the eastern gate; the southern gate opens only after 8 am. Book accordingly.
We realise that witnessing the beautiful Taj Mahal tops your bucket list. And yet, no trip to the Taj city is ever complete without trying out its yummy cuisine or strolling through the bazaars, in search of that perfect memento. The Sundar Bazaar, Meena Bazaar and the southern side of Tajganj are some of the popular shopping destinations here at Agra where you can find loads of intricate craftworks and other such miniature luxuries, to please your taste. Also, whilst here, try out the city’s famous Mughalai cuisine- the mouthwatering kormas, pasandas and the pethas.
Without a doubt, the winters make the best time to visit this wonder. The months from October to December and from February to March offer a pleasant weather as opposed to the extreme heat during the summer months. So, when deciding on a month, pick a winter time. You don’t really want to end up dehydrated, and heat struck on your first visit.
As previously mentioned, the city lacks an international airport, and the travellers need to rely on either a bus or a rail service to reach Agra from the capital city, Delhi. The journey takes about four hours. Alternatively, One can take a connecting flight to Agra via Delhi. The Agra airport lies around 6 km away from the city centre.
Taj Mahal stands firm at the Rajganj area of the city, by the southern banks of river Yamuna. Being a mere 6 km away from the city’s heart, it is easily accessible via an auto rickshaw or a cab.
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