Agra Off The Beaten Path

  • Diwan-i-Khas
    Diwan-i-Khas
    by toonsarah
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by toonsarah
  • Diwan-i-Khas
    Diwan-i-Khas
    by toonsarah

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Agra

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    Mehtab Bagh: another side of the Taj Mahal

    by toonsarah Written Nov 29, 2015

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    If you cross the Yamuna river to the site where legend has it that Shah Jahan planned to build his own black marble mausoleum to face the Taj Mahal across the water, you can get an alternative view of Agra's most famous sight. To enter this area costs 100 IR per person (you can apparently get similar but slightly less good views for free a little down the road). We came here late afternoon, when the sinking sun gave the marble a warm glow. Note though that proper sunsets here are rare as there is quite a bit of pollution (though nothing like the levels in Delhi), and also moisture rising from the river as the air cools slightly tends to cause the sun to disappear into the haze before it reaches the point of sinking. Nevertheless it is worth coming here to see the Taj Mahal in a different light. You will probably also get some good people shots, if these interest you, as the local women herd their goats homewards after a day's grazing.

    Saurav told us that Shah Jahan planned to build a mirror image of the Taj Mahal but in black marble on the other side of the Yamuna to be his own tomb, but was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb before it could be built. I have since read though that this story is probably just a myth, based on the discovery of blackened marble ruins across the river in the Moonlight Garden, Mahtab Bagh, which excavations carried out in the 1990s found simply to be discoloured white stones that had turned black. I loved the story of the black mausoleum though when Saurav told it to us, and the picture it conjured up, so I’m loath to let it go completely!

    Next tip: an excellent dinner at Peshwari.

    Part of the old city wall By the Yamuna
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    Fatehpur Sikri

    by toonsarah Written Nov 29, 2015

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    Although not in Agra itself, most people visit Fatehpur Sikri as a side trip from that city, or (as we did) en route between Agra and Jaipur. If you can fit it into your schedule, do! I loved it here - the colours (deep red sandstone and blue sky, dotted with the bright saris of visitors), the richly detailed carvings, the sense of a world that existed only briefly and is long gone.

    The city was built to be a new capital by the third Mughal emperor, Akbar, possibly as a tribute to a renowned Sufi saint, Sheik Salim Chisti, whom he credited with having blessed him with a long desired son. This may or may not be true; it is certainly the case that Akbar decided to shift his capital from Agra to Fatehpur in part as a result of military victories and it’s also possible that these victories were the reason that he wanted to honour the saint. Whatever the reason, he will have believed that he had chosen an excellent strategic site, on this ridge that dominates the surrounding countryside. Work started in 1571, and it took the team of masons and stone-carvers fifteen years to complete the series of buildings here. In designing the city Akbar drew on Persian and local Indian influences, making this the first great example of Mughal architecture. But very soon after the work was completed, it was realized that there was a lack of an adequate water supply here, and the new capital was abandoned. Much of it fell into ruins; however the imperial palace complex still stands, along with a few other structures and parts of the wall, and are well worth a visit.

    You can get here most easily by car, either as part of a tour or by renting privately. There is also a railway station I believe. Private vehicles, including tourist cars, must park in a large car park not far from the site from where you take a bus (rather old and rickety) for the short journey up the hill to the palace complex. To reach the bus you must walk past a small shopping area and run the gauntlet of the souvenir sellers (this was the only time on this trip that we were really hassled by anyone to buy, although even here it was done with good humour and much less aggressively than in some other countries). Entry to the site costs 260 IR for foreign visitors. There is no extra fee for camera use, unlike some other sights we visited.

    I loved it here so much I have created a separate page highlighting some of my favourite buildings in the city.

    Next tip: photographing local people in Agra.

    Diwan-i-Khas Anup Talao The treasury Diwan-i-Khas Elephant Minar
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    Tomb of Mariam Zamani

    by RAJASTHANBYCAR Updated Dec 5, 2011

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    Mariam‘s tomb is situated some 1 km away from Akbar's Tomb at Sikandra. While coming towards Mathura from Agra,It falls on the left side. You can see the signboards/directions from the main highway (NH2).
    Mariam Zamani was the doughter of Raja Bharmal Kachhwaha of Amber (Jaipur) and was married to Akbar in 1562 A.D. she gave birth to Salim (Jahangir) in 1569 at Fatehpur Sikri, when the title ; Mariam Zamani; (Compassionate to the World). When she died in 1623 at Agra, Jehangir built a stylish tomb for his mother close to the tomb of Akbar within the compound of Christian Missionary Society. This square tomb stands in the center of garden.
    This was originally a Lodi Barahdari (Open pavilion) which was adopted by the mughals and converted into a tomb by making a crypt below the central compartment; reconstructing the four facades of the building with carved red sandstone panels and a chsajja with addition of Duchhattis (Mezzanine floors) at the corners; and remaking the superstructure with Chhatris and Chhaparkhats.
    The cenotaph of Mariam Zomani is set in the central chamber, directly above the main mortuary chamber. There is a third grave of the queen too, situated as the white marble cenotaph on a brick masonry platform in the centre of the terrace.

    Tomb of Mariam Zamani
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    Sikandra: Tomb of Akbar The Great!

    by goutammitra Written Aug 25, 2011

    The third Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great (1542 – 1605), himself commenced its construction in around 1600, according to Tartary tradition to commence the construction of one's tomb during one's lifetime. Akbar himself planned his own tomb and selected a suitable site for it, after his death, Akbar's son Jahangir completed the construction in 1605-1613.

    It is located on National Highway from Agra to Mathura NH2 ( Calcutta -Delhi Highway) about 8kms from The Tajmahal.

    Akbar's Tomb at Sikandra. We infront of Akbar's Tomb
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    Visit a Village

    by 4aisha Updated Apr 22, 2011

    When you are that type of traveler who can sacrifice a little comfort for experience, then venture out to one of the villages. My most unforgettable moments happened here. I spent one breezy afternoon under the shade of a tree, surrounded by elderly and kids alike, all eager to share their stories. I couldn't get enough of watching the ladies prepare food. They toss dough between hands so fast, one would lose count! Then there was this baby I held in my arms, his big eyes outlined with black henna (?). The boys played cricket at daytime which reminded me of my own childhood games. To cap things, I witnessed an engagement party for 2 local villagers.

    P.S. You could bring extra bottled water and mosquito repellent. Mosquitoes there are GIANTS!

    From the roof top Tree at the far upper right was flocked with birds Food served on leaf plates! :)
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    Sunset Viewing Point of Taj Mahal

    by MM212 Updated Apr 18, 2011

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    I arrived in Agra on a Friday afternoon in late February 2009 only to find out that the Taj Mahal was closed on Fridays. Thus, I began my sightseeing tour by first visiting the mausoleums on the opposite bank of the River Yamuna, namely, Chini-ka-Rauza and Itimad-ud-Daulah, and then ended the day by watching sunset from the viewing point of the Taj Mahal across the River Yamuna. It was one of my last days in India and this moment turned out to be the most unforgettable. Because it was the dry season in late winter, the giant River Yamuna was reduced to a small stream and its riverbed was mostly dry, which allowed the visitors to descend into the riverbed and to walk over fine white sand nearly all the way to the majestic white monument. Watching the incredible Taj Mahal and its changing hues as the sun receded in the sky, with only a handful of others and a few animals, was simply magical. Naturally I could not stop gazing at the Taj and taking many photos in the process, some of which are attached while others I've posted in the travelogue: "Unforgettable Sunset by the Taj Mahal". This is a MUST when visiting Agra, preferably on the evening before the scheduled visit to the Taj Mahal.

    The Taj from the Yamuna viewing point, Feb 2009 Northern fa��ade of the Taj Mahal, Feb 2009 Reflections against River Yamuna, Feb 2009 Us and the animals, Feb 2009
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  • Rural India

    by raj_barara Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Yes! This is the real India. Just looking at rural India will give you an insight into primordial times. It also brings you near to nature and if you are lucky enough you can see a dancing Peacock and Cobra in wild. Agra should be viewed patiently for more you look at it more you will find it amazing and incredible that is there are old markets (Bazaars) where things are pretty cheap and try your hands at some Indian spices as well. You will be amazed at their aromatic smell and taste and also healing qualities.

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    Sikandra

    by MM212 Updated Apr 3, 2011

    Named after its founder, the Delhi Sultan Sikandar Lodi, Sikandra lies about 8km north west of Agra, on the road to Delhi. Originally it was a separate village, used by emperors as a hunting base, but modern urban expansion turned it into a mere suburb of Agra. The village is best known for the magnificent tomb of the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great. It was built between 1605 and 1614 AD and is considered one of the most beautiful and unique mausoleums in the Indian subcontinent. It is a must-see when visiting Agra.

    For more, check out my Sikandra page.

    South Gate of Akbar's Tomb, Feb 2009
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    Fatehpur Sikri

    by MM212 Updated Apr 3, 2011

    About an hour west of Agra (or 40 km away) lies Fatehpur Sikri, the ephemeral capital of the Mughal Empire. It was built in 1571 by Emperor Akbar at the location where a revered Sufi mystic lived. It served as the capital of the empire until 1585, when it became evident that water shortage in the area could not sustain a growing capital of an empire, and the city was thus swiftly abandoned and the capital moved to Lahore. This quick evacuation has left us with a 16th century architectural ensemble frozen in time and devoid of subsequent modifications, one whose importance has earned it a place among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city consists of a magnificent grand mosque and an exquisite imperial palace complex, surrounded by numerous lesser structures, ranging from ramparts and caravanserais to palaces and mausoleums. While most of the architecture of the city is typically Mughal, the imperial palace complex exhibits a unique blend of Hindu, Jain and Islamic styles. Fatehpur Sikri makes an excellent day trip from Agra, or a stop along the drive to Jaipur.

    For more on this ghost city, check out the separate page dedicated to Fatehpur Sikri.

    The gates of Jama Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri, Feb 09
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    Shepherds and domestic animals

    by georeiser Written May 18, 2010

    The main road from Agra to Dehli take you through the countryside where shepherds walk along the road. Many domestic animals cross the street and slow vehicles are driving in the middle of the road. The driver must be on his guard.

    Shepherds and domestic animals in Agra Shepherds and domestic animals

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    Visit the abandoned city .

    by lynnehamman Updated Nov 29, 2009

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    If you are going to be in Agra- it is really worthwhile going to visit Fatehpur Sikri
    It has a fascinating history, and wonderful architecture that has been well preserved.
    There is a Sufi Shrine there which has the most marvellous marble lattice work.

    This place is only 37 km from Agra by road, and can easily be combined with a visit to Agra.
    Highly recommended. We had a car and driver- it took us about 30mins to get to Fatehpur Sikri from Agra
    Taxi's can be hired from Agra, and there is also a bus (which might take longer)

    Beware of fake guides who will try and convince you that you need their services. There are genuine guides available. Insist on seeing credentials.

    Lattice window at Sufi Shrine , Fatehpur Sikri
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    Hidden Gem

    by NYTim Written Feb 16, 2009

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    If you are going to visit the Taj, just a few hundred yards from where the green zone starts, there is a nature walk with some of the best far away views of the Monument. There is a very small entrance fee but the vista's are excellent.

    View from the nature walk
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    • National/State Park
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Chini Ka Rauza

    by RAJASTHANBYCAR Updated Jul 15, 2008

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    Chini-ka-rauza is situated at a distance of less than one kilometer north of Itmad-ud-daulah (Baby Taj) on the same side of the Yamuna.This tomb is Built in 1635 a memorial dedicated to Allama Afzel Khan Mullah Shukrullah of Shiraz, who was a Persian poet-scholar and later the Prime Minister of Shah Jahan. It is decorated with glazed tiles (chini) on the facade and depicts the Persian influence on Mughal architecture.Paintings and Islamic calligraphy can still be made out on the high domed ceiling.It is a rectangular structure, having beautiful tile work in glazing colours On the top of the chamber some Quranic texts are inscribed. Although it is in a dilapidated condition, its craftsmanship is worth seeing.

    North Gate Chini Ka Rauza East Gate Chini Ka Rauza Ceiling Painting Celing Painting
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    Mehtab Bagh

    by RAJASTHANBYCAR Updated Jul 15, 2008

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    Mehtab Bagh is situated north side to the Taj Mahal trans Yamuna opposite to Taj Mahal.The moon light garden was built by Emperor Shahjahan viewing the Taj is on the sandy bank of the river Yamuna.
    Mehtab bagh is an ideal spot for the photography the Taj. The panoramic view of the Taj along with Yamuna flowing gently makes this site an excellent photography point.
    Entrance Fees Rs 100.

    We are Standing on Black Taj Mahal Foundtion Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh
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  • Cobra

    by raj_barara Written Sep 20, 2007

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    The very name "Cobra" sends a chill down the spine of a common Indian. The poison of cobra is neurotoxic. While in India try to hold the dreaded cobra in your hands. Don't worry it won't bite you, cause its poison glands have been removed. The one you see in this picture is not a cobra but a racer variety snake. These snakes are a beauty in themselves.

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    • Jungle and Rain Forest

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Agra Off The Beaten Path

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