“To be living in Delhi and not visiting Agra is like relishing pakoras without chutney.” This is what a rickshaw driver told me as we engaged in a conversation about Delhi and its sightseeing destinations.
I finally decided to visit the historic city of Agra to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Taj Mahal and its majestic beauty lived up to every bit of my expectations and even surpassed a few. The magnificence and the beauty of the monument are just remarkable and the feeling that it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World gave me a concoction of thrill and pride. The smoothness and precision of the marble bricks, the minakari on the marble slabs and the symmetry that’s fantastically fashioned, offers different perspective to view this mausoleum. This beauty of the memorial of love is even more enhanced during dawn and dusk. The sunlight melting on the pristine white marble is simply enthralling where the monument looks more gorgeous than your first glimpse of it. Rabindranath Tagore described Taj Mahal as “a teardrop on the cheek of time”. Perhaps, nobody can describe it more aptly than this.
But Agra’s immense amount of history has more to it than just the Taj. The charm of the city extends not just to the numerous monuments and forts in the city but can be seen in every alley and household in Agra. Agra also houses two other UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. The forbidding exteriors of the Agra Fort host an inner paradise. One can explore the immaculate white marble mosque, Moti Masjid, the Diwan-i-Am, Diwan-i-Khaas, Jahangir’s Palace, Khaas Mahal and Sheesh Mahal. An exceptional testimony to the Mughal Empire in Agra is the Fatehpur Sikri. Also called the ‘City of Victory’, it comprises of a series of palaces, mosques and public buildings. Chini ka Rauza, Itimad-ud-daula’s Tomb (also called ‘Baby Taj’), Sikandra and Mariyam’s Tomb are other mausoleums in the city that exemplifies Persian/ Mughal architecture. Considering that I have been to the Jama Masjid in Delhi, it was interesting to visit the Agra’s Jama Masjid. Almost built with the same architecture, I believe it must be the essence of the city that gave it a grandeur and charm of its own.
If you think you are bedazzled by the majestic forts and palaces in Agra, wait till you visit the gardens here. Lush, verdant and blossoming- Agra also offers a variety of beautiful and enchanting baghs that will help you relax once you are tired of your sight-seeing expedition. It is truly amazing that the city is so richly soaked into the historicity and culture that even the gardens here have a story of their own rather than just being an epitome of aesthetic beauty. The Ram Bagh, Mehtab Bagh and the Soami Bagh Samadh are few of the popular gardens in Agra, each with an enchanting history and enthralling beauty of its own.
As much as the city is famous for its rich culture and heritage, it is equally popular for its bazaars. For almost everybody who visits Agra, cannot resist the temptation to explore its markets. Known for the fabulous marble-made handicrafts and soft stone inlay work, the shops in Agra are flooded with small souvenirs of the splendid monuments of the city, especially the Taj. The Zardosi adorned cloth pieces, itar, carpets and dhurries, brassware and leather made items are other sought after commodities in Agra. Be it the over-bustling crowd of people and rickshaws in Sadar Bazaar or the traffic of huge black cows and gangly goats in Kineri Bazaar, the fun is to find your way through this puddle and get to the respective shops.