Tour sights in Agra apart from the Taj Mahal
Agra has for a long time been used by tourists as a transit destination – what do you expect of a town that is largely unappealing? Well, that does not mean that it lacks places that will attract people with a keen eye for history. Stay in the city long enough and you will realize that the congested bazaars are captivating. This is the same case with the numerous remnants from the Mughal era. Are you a nature lover? Agra has quite spectacular sights on offer!
If you are filling your checklist of UNESCO Word Heritage sites, Agra Fort deserves some attention from you. Apart from being an important fort in India, this structure is an illustration of intricate ancient architecture. It took a total of 8 years for the fort to be rebuilt. When the British took over the fort in 1803, the place was neglected; which saw the destruction of many buildings within the structure. Luckily, there are mosques, audience halls, towers, courtyards and fairy-tale palaces still intact for viewing.
The tombs of Agra
Did you know that the Taj Mahal is in fact a tomb? The two other tombs of impressive significance are one that bears the remains of Emperor Akbar who was considered as the most influential emperor on Mughal and another where Itmad-ud-Daulah was buried. This second tomb was the first ever structure of its kind to be made out of marble as opposed to typical red sandstone. To visit either of these tombs, foreigners pay 300 rupees while locals part with 25 rupees.
If you want to see huge crowds of people consistently in a single location, the Taj Mahal is the place to be. Those who would rather stay away from the battle of the crowds or do not have the admission fee to get in should consider its alternative - it is good enough to see Taj from the other side of the river. The perfect viewpoint for this is the Moonlight Garden (commonly referred to as Mehtab Bagh). This 25 acre complex was built right in front of the Taj Mahal and it was authored by Emperor Babur of the Mughal Empire.
Some of the most vibrant tourist destinations thrive on partnership between site management and locals. One such initiative is the Mughal Heritage Walk which is an activity that assists villagers in the neighboring areas to gain direct income from activities related to tourism. The walk is taken by locals who are also trained tour guides and is 1 kilometer long. Walking begins on the side of the river just in front of the Taj Mahal, transverses Kachhpura village to conclude at Mehtab Bagh.
Taj Nature Walk
The grounds that surround the Taj Mahal are excellent for walks – at least to take a break from the large crowds. What would you possibly do with 70 hectares of land? Actually, this is the size of forest reserve that surrounds the Taj Mahal. For only 100 rupees for foreigners and 20 rupees for locals, visitors to the area can use the forest not only as a viewpoint but also a nature trail.
Being in this venue is like being in graffiti – while the café has all manner of foods on the menu, the real deal is in the Sheroes (female heroes who are survivors of horrific attacks involving acids). Come to Sheroes Hangout to grab something to eat but make sure you leave a little bit educated on acid attacks on the women of Delhi.
Agra's Old City
The heart of Agra only comes out through the fascinating experience that the congested city offers. Right behind the 17th century mosque is where visitors get to live the old city life. The narrow lanes which are in fact rich business hubs are a good source of souvenirs to take back home.
Agra Vegetable Market
Are you an early bird? You need to be even if it is just for a day so that you can be part of the human activity at the wholesale vegetable market in Agra. This energetic space is a culmination of all farm produce from around India. Be early because all activity here is concluded by 9 am.
Agra Bear Rescue Center
In the same way that some human beings are held captive, so are some animals. The bears at this rescue center were once held against their will so that they could dance. There is a fee for seeing the bears and you pay even more if you want to get close.
The earliest inhabitants of this village were the caretakers of the dancing sloth bears. There is a village initiative that goes on here to help the locals to survive since the bears were rescued leaving them without an income.
A popular tourist destination in Agra, many come here to see the abandoned city that was founded in 1571. The ancient architecture will keep you awed.
With all this to see, who can dare say no to a tour of India? No need to worry if the trip is impromptu, you can apply for a Visa on Arrival (VOA).