Agra for the longest time has become synonymous with the Taj Mahal. The white marble beauty tops the list of anyone planning their visit to Agra. However, there is much more that does not make it to the limelight in the city. History, culture and gastronomy go hand in hand in Agra and if you find yourself there for a short stay, we suggest that you cram in as much as you can before heading back home. Here is how you can experience 24 hours in Agra.
Get an early start
Checking out the grandeur of historical structures is not time bound, but getting a glimpse of migratory birds is best cherished at dawn. Agra is a birdwacher's paradise with a host of migratory birds making it their home. The Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (situated close by) has over 230 species. It has been declared a protected sanctuary and a World Heritage Site. However, if you wish to spot migratory birds in a secluded and an even quieter area, we suggest the banks of Chambal river.
Witness the beauty of the Taj Mahal
Going to Agra and not seeing the Taj Mahal just won't do. The marble structure has continued to mesmerise all those who have visited the city. It is bathed in different colours at different times of the day. You can choose to witness this Unesco World Heritage Site at any time. It’s open for night viewing, as well as 30 minutes before and after sunset.
Attend a marble inlay workshop and take home souvenirs
You may have missed witnessing the real Taj Mahal being built, but don't miss out on the chance to see the miniature souvenirs being made. Marvelling at the Taj’s beauty is one thing and creating a mini Taj is another. While in Agra, attend a marble inlay workshop and learn more about the art form and go home with the structures you create. Another outlet where one can engage with local artisans and carry back home souvenirs is the Shilpgram. Tiny pieces reflecting Uttar Pradesh’s art are a common sight here.
Get a glimpse of rural Uttar Pradesh at Korai village
Located at a 45-minute drive from Agra is Korai, a close-knit community of artisans and cultivators. Pottery, cattle rearing as well as cooking on mud pots are some hyper local experiences you can sign up for. Apart from that, one can choose to take a stroll around or cycle through the village to get talking to the locals and engage with their stories. Once here, the legendary city of Fatehpur Sikri is only a-15 minute drive and not to be missed.
Engage in a historical affair
Agra’s rich history and Mughal cultural background attracts many. The ornate structures of Mughal architecture can be seen and marveled upon at the Khas Mahal, the Itimad-Ud-Dualah and other lesser known monuments. The Khas Mahal, also known as the Aramgah-i-Muqaddar, was a private palace built by Shah Jahan for his daughters. It is flanked by the Yamuna on one side and the Anguri Bagh on the other. The structure has heavily adorned ceilings and alcoves in the walls around giving it the Mughal touch. The Itimad-Ud-Daulah is often regarded as the mini Taj Mahal. It is the mausoleum of Mirza Ghiyas Beg and his wife Asmat Beghum. Its striking resemblance with the Taj Mahal makes it hard to miss.
Taste local dishes and shop
Uttar Pradesh is known for its delectable Mughlai cuisine and Agra is no different. Right from kebabs to a range of street food, the city has it all. If you are looking to devour some savoury delights, Sadar Bazaar should be your go-to place. Apart from that, Agra also the famous Sheroes Café run by acid attack victims. Their efforts and services and overall ambience is heartwarming, leaving you wanting to spend a little extra time than you had planned for. In case you are also looking to shop your heart out here, Kinari Bazaar is one place that you shouldn’t miss out on. The maze-like structure, similar to Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, gives way to hidden gems stocking gorgeous jewellery. Even if you decide against shopping, just walking around the lanes is a memorable experience.