Sitting on the banks of river Yamuna, Agra is a city in Uttar Pradesh state, in north India, known for its varying climate, topography and rich culture. The region around Agra consists almost entirely of plains, with a range of hills in the extreme southwest. This famous city was founded by Sultan Sikandar of the Lodī dynasty in the early 16th century, meant to be the capital of the Delhi Sultanate. Since it served as the Mughal capital during some periods of the empire, it’s filled with stunning examples of Mughal architecture, making all the famous places in Agra must-visits.
Although Agra is best known for the Taj Mahal, there is a world beyond this world-famous monument all worth sightseeing in Agra. From Akbar’s Tomb to Agra Fort and the walled city of Fatehpur Sikri, it is home to some of India’s most important monuments that tell the story of the country’s intensely colourful history.
Also read: 5 amazing weekend road trips from Delhi
Here Is A Guide To 14 Famous Places In Agra That You Must Explore
1. Widely Known As The Symbol Of Eternal Love: Taj Mahal
One of the world’s most well-known monuments and the most famous place in Agra, the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the paragon of love constructed in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Her tomb rests right under the central dome of the monument. It took 22 years and over 20,000 workers to construct the monument, and it’s also the best example of the intricacy and brilliance of Persian and Mughal architecture, attracting approximately eight million tourists a year for sightseeing. Verses from the Holy Quran are inscribed on it, gemstones once adorned its walls, and the intricate inlay work adds a touch of magnificence to the structure. A brilliant architectural feat is its symmetry—it looks identical from all four sides. It was originally planned to be constructed in Madhya Pradesh in Burhanpur because Mumtaz Mahal passed away there, but the plan was changed as they were unable to supply enough white marble required for its construction. You can visit the Taj Mahal from sunrise to sunset every day, except Fridays. The entry fee is INR 50 for Indians and INR 1,100 for foreigners.
2. One Of The Finest Mughal Forts Ever Built: Agra Fort
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, a famous place for tourism in Agra is the Agra Fort, one of the finest Mughal forts built by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1573. It took 4,000 workers and eight years to finish the construction. Attracting tourists from all over the world, this red sandstone and marble fort was once the seat of the Mughal empire. Some of the most iconic structures in Mughal history are still a part of this fort, such as Shish Mahal (Mirror Palace), Diwan-e-khaas (Hall for the royal audience), and Diwan-e-aam (Hall for general audience). The Amar Singh gate, originally built to confuse attackers, is now the sole point of entry to the fort. Later, Shah Jahan renovated it by adding marble and transforming the raw red sandstone structure to a palace. Years later, he was imprisoned in the same fort at Mussaman Burj by his son Aurangzeb. The Fort is open for sightseeing from 7 am to 6 pm every day, with an entry fee of INR 40 for Indians and INR 550 for foreigners. You will need about two hours to explore the entire monument, as it is spread across 94 acres.
Also read: 8 of the most stunning forts in India
3. Get Your Best Shot Of The Famed Taj From Here: Mehtab Bagh
Known for being the best tourist place and translating to ‘moonlight garden’, Mehtab Bagh is a char-bagh (four-garden) complex inspired by the four gardens of paradise mentioned in the Quran. It was built by Babur, just opposite the Taj Mahal, and is described by Shah Jahan as the ideal spot for viewing the Taj Mahal. Due to frequent floods and extraction of building material by the villagers, the garden lay in ruins by the ’90s. However, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) intervened and started work to restore the garden to its original state. They even made sure that the trees and flowers planted in Mehtab Bagh (guava, ashoka, jamun, neem, hibiscus) were all originally a part of the Mughal gardens. There were four sandstone towers too in the garden at its four corners; however, only one remains today. The garden, one of the famous places in Agra, is open from sunrise to sunset, and is also considered a photographer’s haven, as you can take some unique photographs of the Taj from here. The entry fee for Indians is INR 30, and INR 200 for foreign nationals.
4. Renowned As The ‘City Of Victory’: Fatehpur Sikri
Located at a distance of 37 km from Agra, Fatehpur Sikri is a city predominantly made of red sandstone. It was once the capital of the Mughal empire for fifteen years, built and established by Akbar in 1571 and later abandoned in 1610. Today it is a UNESCO world heritage site and a famous tourist attraction in Agra, home to Jama Masjid, Jodha Bai’s Palace and Buland Darwaza, each an integral part of Indian history and heritage. The city was built by Akbar to honour Sheikh Salim Chisti, whose prediction of the birth of a Mughal heir had come true. It is enclosed by an 11 km-long fortified wall which has various gateways. Akbar’s favourite minister Birbal too has a monument in Fatehpur Sikri, called Birbal’s house. Since he was Hindu, the architecture is different from the usual Mughal buildings. As one of the most famous places in Agra, it is available for sightseeing between 6 am to 6 pm every day except Friday, with an entry fee of INR 35 for Indians and INR 550 for Foreigners.
5. Often Described As A Jewel Box: Tomb Of Itimad-ud-daulah
Being the first tomb to be built in white marble from Rajasthan instead of red sandstone, Itimad-ud-Daulah is sometimes referred to as the ‘Baby Taj’, as it has been constructed with the same elaborate carvings and inlay techniques. The tomb is one of the most visited and famous places in Agra and is surrounded by a garden, criss-crossed by walkways and watercourses. Commissioned by Noor Jahan, Jehangir’s wife, for her father Mirza Beg who was given the title of Itimad-ud-Daulah or pillar of the state, its construction began in 1622 and was completed in 1628. Mirza Beg’s tomb rests next to his wife’s, which was inspired by the Taj Mahal. Many of Noor Jahan’s relatives’ tombs are also kept in this monument. You can see this place on any day of the week between 6 am to 6 pm. The entry fee for Indians is INR 30 and INR 310 for foreigners.
6. Experience Peace: The Taj Nature Walk
Offering a different, more relaxing side to Agra, the Taj Nature walk is located just 500 m away from the eastern gate of the Taj Mahal, developed by the Social Forestry Division of Agra. It is one of the famous places in Agra where you can walk and enjoy some quiet time, especially in winter. You can enjoy amazing views of the Taj from various angles through the watchtowers along the trail. It’s home to unique varieties of flowers, shrubs, and trees, and you might also come across some exotic species of birds like parakeets and kingfishers. It is open for sightseeing from 7 am to 6 pm on all days with an entry fee of INR 20 per person for Indians and INR 100 for Foreigners.
7. Visit The Mughal Architectural Masterpiece: Akbar’s Tomb
The final resting place of the great Mughal emperor Akbar is in Sikandra. The emperor oversaw the construction of this tomb until his death. He even selected the site where he wanted to be laid to rest. The task of commissioning your own tomb is part of the Turkic custom that Mughals adhered to. His son Jehangir completed the construction of his father’s tomb in 1613 and it was beautifully carved, made of red sandstone, making it one of the famous places in Agra in the present day. Just 1 km away from Akbar’s Tomb is Mariam’s Tomb, Akbar’s wife and Jehangir’s mother. The monument is open for sightseeing to visitors on all days of the week from 6 am to 6 pm with an entry fee of INR 15 for Indians and INR 110 for foreigners.
8. Leading Pilgrimage Destination For The Sikhs: Guru Ka Tal
A reservoir from the Mughal era, Guru ka Tal became a famous religious place in Agra when a gurdwara was constructed here in the 1970s. The place where it is built is where Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji voluntarily surrendered to Aurangzeb during his fight for freedom to practise his faith. The fact that four out of the 10 Sikh gurus have visited this place in their lifetime makes it a site for holy pilgrimage as well as a famous place to see in Agra. Being both a historical and religious site, it draws both tourists and pilgrims. It originally served as a reservoir of rainwater that was used for irrigation. It is also known for its stone carvings and towers that increase its beauty manifold. Even though it is a Sikh religious place, owing to its Mughal past, its architecture of red sandstone reminds us of both cultures. It’s open 24/7 for sightseeing with no entry fee.
9. A 17th Century Heritage Site: Jama Masjid
One of the biggest mosques of India, the Jama Masjid in Agra, popularly known as the “Friday Mosque” is famous for its astounding loftiness and its architectural richness. It is situated right across Agra Fort and is one of the most well-known tourist places in Agra. This four- minaret Masjid, which can easily accommodate up to 25,000 people, has three gateways. This World Heritage site was built by Shah Jahan for his daughter Jahanara Begum, in 1648 CE. It sports inscriptions inlaid in gold against a royal blue background making it a massive tourist attraction in Agra. The beautiful designs on the tomb and the red sandstone construction of the mosque will leave you awestruck with the prowess of Islamic architecture. The mosque is open from 8 am to 6 pm and has no entry fee.
10. Get Mesmerised By The Sparkling Facade: Moti Masjid
Moti Masjid, also known as Pearl Masjid due to its spotless white facade that shines like a pearl in the sunlight, was built by Shah Jahan in 1648 CE on the banks of the river Yamuna, exclusively for the members of the royal court. A white marble tank is the centre of attention in the courtyard. A sundial made of marble, placed on a pillar stands testimony to the architectural wonder of the past era, making it one of the best places to visit in Agra. Multiple arches lead to the large prayer hall of the mosque while the main entrance to the mosque is located on the east. The reason it attracts many tourists is because it is built on a slope with several arched recessions and side arcades. You can visit the mosque between 6 am to 6 pm with an entry fee of INR 20 for Indians and INR 750 for foreigners.
11. An Integral Part Of The Royal Harem: Jodha Bai Ka Rauza
The abode of the first Rajput consort and a famous place in Agra, Jodha Bai ka Rauza, also known as Jodha Bai’s Palace, was built by Akbar for his favourite queen Jodha Bai. The Rauza or the Palace is at a distance of 6 km from Agra Fort. The monument stands as a symbol of religious tolerance between Hindu and Muslims, which makes it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Agra. The edifice is a strong example of the Indo-Mughal style of architecture. The plethora of mural designs depicting lotus, elephants and peacocks are a symbol of unity between the religions. It is open between 7:30 am to 6 pm everyday, with an entry fee of INR 35 for Indians and INR 550 for foreigners.
12. Preserving India’s National Heritage Since 1995: Wildlife SOS
A great initiative that was started by a group of individuals in 1995 to conserve India’s wildlife, Wildlife SOS is a rescue and conservation organisation in Agra. Although Wildlife SOS initially started by rescuing the ‘dancing bears’ of India, today it also runs projects to rescue and provide shelter to leopards, elephants, sloth bears, reptiles and other animals. Their campus is located in the Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary. The Education Conservation Walkway in this facility is the first ever in the country, which makes it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Agra. The organisation works tirelessly against animal cruelty, to rescue wildlife, and also collaborates with different communities to educate them about conserving and preserving wildlife. They offer a personal two-hour guided experience which needs to be pre-booked. This involves a guided tour of the facility, a documentary to explain the history of the dancing bears, and activities to interact with the bears, such as feeding them fruits or porridge. The centre is open for sightseeing, seven days a week, from 8 am to 6 pm.
13. Celebrate Her Legacy: Mother Teresa’s Missionaries Of Charity
At the time of Mother Teresa’s death in 1997, Missionaries of Charity was operating in 123 countries, on approximately 610 missions to provide homes and to care for the homeless, sick and orphans across the world. One of these famous charity homes is based in Agra and it works towards the upbringing, well-being and education of orphaned children, as well as care for the elderly and homeless. You can spend some time with the unprivileged, share some smiles, as well as observe the unconditional love and nurturing that the nuns share with the kids and the elderly. This place is open to visitors from 8 am to 6 pm and has no entry fee.
14. Enjoy A Carefree Day: Dolphin Water Park
If you ever feel overwhelmed with all the Mughal architecture and monuments, this is one of the best places to see in Agra. Inaugurated in 2002, the Dolphin World Water Park is north India’s largest water park, spread over 14 acres. It houses a water park, an amusement park, a play area for kids, a locker room, and a fast food plaza. They also have height-based separate swimming pools. With slides like clusters, a wave pool, multi-lane water slides, a kids’ train, and a carousel shaped like a caterpillar, the park is a popular source of recreation and entertainment for city dwellers and tourists. They are open between 11 am and 6 pm, with an entry fee of INR 550 for adults and INR 400 for kids.
How Can You Make The Most Of Your Trip To Agra?
Agra is on the bucket list of almost every adventurous traveller. And the famous places in Agra are mostly known worldwide. It is always best to visit Agra in the morning, starting with the primary attraction, the Taj Mahal, and then make your way to the Agra Fort, Mehtab Bagh, Taj Nature Walk, and so on. It’s less crowded in the morning thus giving you ample opportunity to take photographs. The perfect months to travel to Agra are through winter and monsoon, as sightseeing becomes that much more enjoyable in more bearable weather. Agra has numerous luxurious hotels as well as budget stays that cater to all kinds of travel requirements.
First-time travellers should be careful about eating and drinking. Bottled water, such as Bisleri, is the safest form of drinkable water, and is easily available in all hotels and shops. Sometimes, the food can come across as too spicy, especially for foreigners, so it is best to try food where taste can be customised, such as restaurants in hotels. While you’re at it, you can take the opportunity to devour some authentic Mughlai food and some of the richest curries in the country.
Agra attracts tourists not only for its historical and religious importance but also for its special sweet dish that is made with pumpkin known as petha. It comes in various flavours like kesar, angoori and much more. The petha is said to have been invented in the kitchens of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It is so closely associated with Agra, that it is more popularly known as ‘Agra ka petha’.
A trip to Agra is incomplete without paying a visit to its markets and bazaars. While they might not be counted in the ranks of famous places in Agra they have a charm and vitality that shouldn’t be missed. Don’t forget to shop for souvenirs or simply walk around to soak in the atmosphere.