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Agra Travel Guide

Agra, undoubtedly, is India's Mecca for tourists. Any foreign tourist's visit to India is incomplete without marveling at the beauty of the Taj. Given the equally irresistible tours to the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, one realizes how miserably short 36 hours are for exploring and absorbing all the flavors that are truly Agra's.

As a large chunk of foreign tourists lands up in New Delhi, an onward journey to Agra can be ideal because of its proximity to the capital. Agra, located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, is about 200 KMS from the capital and offers comfortable travel options. It takes less than an hour to reach Agra by air while. More than a dozen trains connect the Delhi-Agra route with travel time varying from 2 to 5 hours. One of the most convenient, inexpensive, and fascinating ways to reach Agra is to hop on a seat of an air-conditioned chair car of Shatabdi, which starts from the New Delhi Railway Station early morning.

Once in Agra, a stopover for a quick check-in at your hotel, get on board a rented car or an auto-rickshaw, and head straight to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal, which is literally the Jewel in the Crown. Vehicles running on fuel are not permitted from a particular distance of the Taj so the best way to reach there is either by hiring a camel/horse carriage or boarding vehicles run on batteries. Normally, the monument is open from 6 am to 7 pm every day except on Fridays. To get entry, one needs to pay entrance fees depending on whether one is an Indian national or a foreigner.

As the Taj unfolds in front of your eyes, one can't help but marvel at this 17th-century mausoleum resting on the banks of river Yamuna, which stands as a reminder of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's intense love for his beauteous wife Mumtaz Mahal. But the Taj is best captured at dusk and dawn; the full effect of sunlight and moonlight on this architectural grandeur has to be seen to be believed! Better yet, catch the stunning view on Buddha Purnima or full moon night. Words fall short to describe its unmatched beauty and grandeur!

After spending your fulfilled hours at the Taj, grab a quick bite at any luxury or five-star hotels or the budgeted accommodation and cheap eateries are dotted along the way. Coming to Agra and giving Mughlal food a miss is simply not on, as it is the best place for authentic Mughlai dishes Around 3 pm, visit the Agra Fort which was built by Akbar in 1565 A.D. It is another piece of bewilderment In the evening, you can shop till you literally drop dead in the comforts of your hotel accommodation.

The next day or the remaining 12 hours can be utilized in visiting Akbar's tomb at Sikandra. You could start around 9 am after having breakfast in the hotel itself. Interestingly, the tomb was started during Akbar's lifetime and completed by his son Jahangir in 1613. The tomb is appreciated for its three-storied pyramidical shape sans the domed roof. Then visit the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah on the banks of river Yamuna. Empress Nur Jahan had built this tomb in the memory of her father. After another hearty meal at around 1 pm, you can embark on the tour of Fatehpur Sikri (the City of Victory). Emperor Akbar built this imperial city between 1571 and 1584 and it currently falls in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites. Jama Masjid, built-in 1571, is the most sacred building in been built on the highest point. One of the largest mosques in India, it has a sprawling courtyard and towards the corner on the right side is the Jammat Khana next to which is Zenana Rauza, the Tomb of the Royal Ladies. As the sun sets, you realize that your trip is drawing to a close. Check out from the hotel way ahead of the clock striking 8. It's time to head towards the station or the airport for your return journey to Delhi. With dinner served on the Shatabdi, you'll realize how comfortable the journey is by rail. On your way back, the longing for yet another visit keeps you occupied. Indeed, a trip to Agra is a must to truly understand the grandeur associated with the Mughal Empire.