48 Hours in Agra, India: 10 Cool Things To Absolutely Do

Agra, a bustling city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, is renowned for its rich historical and cultural heritage. Home to the magnificent Taj Mahal, Agra attracts millions of tourists each year who flock to witness its grandeur. However, Agra has much more to offer than just the iconic marble mausoleum. If you find yourself with only 48 hours to explore this vibrant city, here are ten cool things you absolutely must do to make the most of your visit.

1. Marvel at the Taj Mahal

No visit to Agra would be complete without a visit to the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a testament to his love for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is a masterpiece of architectural brilliance. As you enter through the grand gate and catch your first glimpse of the gleaming white marble structure surrounded by lush gardens, you’ll understand why it is considered one of the most romantic buildings in the world. Explore the intricate marble inlays, take in the symmetrical beauty, and savor the serene ambiance while learning about the fascinating history and legends surrounding this UNESCO World Heritage site.

2. Discover Agra Fort

Just a short distance from the Taj Mahal lies Agra Fort, another UNESCO World Heritage site and sister monument to the Red Fort in Delhi. This impressive red sandstone fortress served as the main residence of the Mughal emperors until it was converted into a military stronghold. Explore its labyrinthine maze of palaces, audience halls, and beautiful courtyards while admiring the stunning blend of Islamic and Hindu architectural styles. Don’t miss the breathtaking views of the Taj Mahal from the fort’s pavilions, which provide a unique perspective of this magnificent mausoleum.

3. Take a Soothing Boat Ride on the Yamuna River

Escape the bustling city for a peaceful boat ride along the Yamuna River. As you glide on the tranquil waters, you’ll be able to witness the Taj Mahal from a completely different angle. The river offers a refreshing perspective of this architectural marvel, making for breathtaking photo opportunities. Embrace the serenity, enjoy the cool river breeze, and take in the panoramic views of the Taj Mahal reflecting on the water’s surface as the boatman shares intriguing tales about the river’s significance to the region’s history.

4. Explore the Intricate Beauty of Itmad-ud-Daulah

Often referred to as the “Baby Taj,” Itmad-ud-Daulah is a hidden gem that deserves a visit. Built by Nur Jahan, the wife of Emperor Jahangir, in memory of her father, this stunning mausoleum is a precursor to the grandeur of the Taj Mahal. Admire the delicate marble lattice screens, exquisite marble inlays, and intricate geometric designs that adorn the walls. The serene garden surrounding the mausoleum provides a tranquil atmosphere, making Itmad-ud-Daulah a peaceful retreat away from the crowds.

5. Wander the Charming Streets and Bazaars of Old Agra

Step back in time as you wander through the narrow lanes of Old Agra, also known as the “Sadar Bazaar” area. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and explore the bustling bazaars, where you’ll find everything from handicrafts and textiles to spices and jewelry. Indulge in some retail therapy while haggling for unique souvenirs or savor the flavors of authentic street food like petha (a popular sweet made from pumpkin) and tasty snacks like samosas or chaat. This colorful part of Agra offers a glimpse into the city’s rich cultural heritage and bustling daily life.

6. Try Mughlai Cuisine at a Local Restaurant

Agra is famous for its Mughlai cuisine, which draws inspiration from the rich culinary traditions of the Mughal Empire. Head to a local restaurant and indulge in delectable dishes such as biryani, kebabs, butter chicken, and aromatic curries. Don’t miss out on the melt-in-your-mouth sweet delicacy, the iconic “petha.” These flavorsome dishes will transport your taste buds to an era of royal extravagance and refinement.

7. Visit Akbar’s Mausoleum in Sikandra

A short drive from Agra, you’ll find Sikandra, the final resting place of Emperor Akbar. This magnificent mausoleum is a blend of architectural styles, featuring intricate marble inlays and impressive geometric patterns. Exploring Akbar’s tomb and the surrounding gardens provides a fascinating insight into the life and legacy of one of the greatest Mughal emperors, renowned for his religious tolerance and patronage of art and culture.

8. Experience a Colorful Evening Sound and Light Show

Immerse yourself in the history and legends of Agra through a spectacular sound and light show held at the majestic Agra Fort. As the sun goes down, the fort comes alive with vibrant lights, creating a mesmerizing atmosphere. Through powerful narrations and enchanting music, the show showcases the historical events that unfolded within the fort’s walls, transporting you back in time. Witness the storytelling magic and marvel at the captivating visuals that bring the fort’s rich past to life.

9. Discover the Exquisite Craftsmanship of Agra’s Handicrafts

Agra is renowned for its fine craftsmanship, especially in the field of marble inlay work, known as “pietra dura.” Visit the marble workshops and witness skilled artisans meticulously shaping and inlaying precious and semi-precious stones into marble to create intricate designs. From decorative plates and tabletops to jewelry boxes and souvenirs, these exquisite pieces make perfect gifts to take home. Supporting local craftsmen not only ensures the preservation of this traditional art form but also encourages sustainable tourism.

10. Get a Bird’s Eye View from Mehtab Bagh

Wrap up your 48 hours in Agra with a visit to Mehtab Bagh, a splendid garden complex located across the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal. Enjoy the panoramic view as it offers an entirely different perspective of the Taj Mahal, often free from the usual crowds. Known as the “Moonlight Garden,” Mehtab Bagh allows you to witness the captivating interplay of light and shadows on the Taj Mahal during sunrise or sunset, creating magical photo opportunities. Take a leisurely stroll amidst the lush greenery and soak in the serene ambiance before bidding farewell to this enchanting city.

Now armed with an itinerary filled with cool things to do, immerse yourself in the grandeur, history, and cultural richness of Agra. Explore its architectural masterpieces, mingle with the local community, savor the flavors, and create everlasting memories in this city that showcases the splendor of India’s past.

Sources:
1. Taj Mahal: https://www.tajmahal.gov.in/
2. Agra Fort: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/251
3. Itmad-ud-Daulah: https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1444/
4. Akbar’s Mausoleum, Sikandra: https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/6302/
5. Mehtab Bagh: https://www.tajmahal.gov.in/mehtabpagh.aspx