Many people dream of visiting the Taj Mahal, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yet, even though the fact that this monument is located in India is very well known, few can pinpoint Agra, the city of its location.
Along with the Taj Mahal, Agra also houses other beautiful World Heritage Sites such as Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri but there is much more to discover in this beautiful city besides the tourist heavy destinations. Here are ten of them to get you started on your way through the streets of this ancient, yet modern city.
1. Chini Ka Rauza
Afzal Khan, a high official in the Shahjahan court, built this funerary monument in 1635. A beautiful example of Persian architecture, the glazed tiled façade is now the resting home of poet and prime minister of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, Afzal Khan Mullah.
This is the mausoleum of Emperor Akbar, which was built to represent his philosophy and secular beliefs. It combines the best of Hindu and Muslim architectural styles.
3. Jama Masjid
One of the rare monuments to feature Iranian architecture, this 1648 monument features a rectangular open forecourt as part of its memory of Sheikh Salim Chistti.
4. Ram Bagh
Just a few kilometers away from the Taj Mahal, this oldest Mughal garden in India used to be referred to as The Garden of Relaxation because it is where emperor Barbar used to spend his leisure time and where he passed. The pavilions of the garden were designed so that the wind from the Yamuna River keeps them cool, and lush, year round.
5. Gyarah Sidi
The remains of Jantar-Mantar, a set of monuments built by emperor Babar’s son in order to study astronomy, Gyarah Sidi is carved out of a single block of stone and nicknamed The Eleven Steps.
6. Humayu Mosque
A mosque built by the Mughals, the site is home to several graves built of sandstones and beautifully engraved.
7. Mehtab Bagh
Known as the Moonlight Garden, this stunning green space directly behind the Taj Mahal was initially built as a view point to observe the Taj at night when the moonlight, and it’s reflection on the water, give the well known monument new colors.
This small village lies directly across the river from the Taj Mahal. Its streets are adorned with small colorful houses with elaborate doorways. The houses are often painted using Sanjhi art.
9. Kachpura’s Central Courtyard
A wonderful location in order to observe authentic village culture, this community space allows visitors to observe activities taking place in Kachpura such as street theater, folk dance, henna tattoo making and a display of community made artifacts.
10. Kachpura Market
The local market space is a wonderful space to help sustain local economy all the while getting to see the lifestyle of Indian villagers. A non-profit group called the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE) has trained women in making artifacts and souvenirs to be sold at the market as well as groups of youth who give tours of the village.