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Top Rated Attractions in Agra

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Taj Mahal

Magnificent, stunning, bewitching, sublime – words fail to describe this exalted labor of love that stands on the southern bank of the Yamuna river. One of the most astounding examples of Mughal architecture, the Taj Mahal is swathed in immaculate, ivory-white glory, a resplendent bulwark of precision and symmetry. Constructed by the grief-stricken emperor Shah Jahan after the death of his beloved consort, it's hard to believe that the gigantic edifice is actually a mausoleum that houses both of their tombs. The iconic structure has been constructed entirely out of marble and features outstanding artwork, including the stunning marble inlay work that is interwoven with precious and semi-precious stones. Calligraphic inscriptions from the Holy Quran surround the beautiful vaulted archways. The edifice, flanked by four pillars, has been constructed in perfect symmetry and appears identical from all the sides. At the absolute center of the monument lies the cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal and beside hers, emperor Shah Jahan's, which was added later. The edifice was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983 and is one of the most recognized monuments worldwide.

Mankameshwar Mandir

Believed to be established by Lord Shiva more than 5000 years ago, the Mankameshwar Mandir is a famous place of worship for Hindus. A bustling market surrounds the temple with shops selling sweets and garlands which are offered to the deity. The actual temple is relatively small and is accessible by a fleet of steps as it is located lower than the ground level. A magnificent silver Shivalingam (symbolic representation of Lord Shiva), which can be seen from the entrance, is at the center of the temple. Smaller shrines of several Hindu deities such as Ram, Krishna, Hanuman and Narsimha occupy spaces in the complex and are also worshiped. One of the best times to visit the temple is during the evening aarti (a worship ritual) which is done amidst much fanfare. Follow the surge of devotees heading towards the temple, in case you are lost in one of the narrow lanes spread across the vicinity.

Agra Fort

Often named in the same breath as the Taj Mahal, this landmark structure is fortified by 21-meter (70-feet) high walls, part of which skirts the river Yamuna. The Agra Fort gained prominence during the reign of Emperor Akbar and Shah Jahan. The fort's complex gives a great view of the majestic Jahangiri Mahal, dwarfing everything else surrounding the palace. The smooth contours of the Taj Mahal are hard to be missed from the Khas Mahal and Musamman Burj, that is only if you can take your eyes off the splendid polished color stones and gems that beautify the structures. Diwan-i-Khas, Diwan-i- Aam, Anguri Bagh and Machhi Bhavan are other historically important structures that are also the holders of the Mughal legacy. As a part of it is occupied by the Indian Army, entry to certain parts of the fort is restricted which thereby cuts the chance for visitors to view the magnificent Delhi Gate and the iconic Moti Masjid. If the white marble wonder is the royal symbol of an emperor's love for his wife, then the Agra Fort surely lives up to its status of a royal fortress. Built in such gigantic proportions, it is practically impossible to capture the fort in a frame from any one side.

Tomb of I'timad-Ud-Daulah

Few structures in Agra can match up to the Taj Mahal in beauty and splendor. The tomb of I'timad-Ud-Daulah counts as one of them. Built between 1622 and 1628, the beautiful tomb was commissioned by Emperor Jahangir's wife, Nur Jahan in memory of her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg. The title I'timad-Ud-Daulah, meaning pillar of the state, was given to him for his exceptional services to the state. The magnificent tomb is one of the first Mughal monuments to be constructed entirely from white marble and is one of the hallmarks of the change in Mughal trend of using white marble instead of red sandstone. The tomb sits in the middle of a Mughal garden flanked by ornamental gates on all sides. Sterling floral inlay artwork adorns the structure. A marked difference between the artwork on this tomb and that of the Taj Mahal is the high amount of geometrical and meaty inlay work with Iranian influences as against the delicate floral patterns on the Taj. The structure, also known as the Baby Taj and considered as a pre-cursor to the Taj Mahal, is a monument of immense beauty and a must-visit site.

Fatehpur Sikri

The period of Mughal reign in India was marked by splendid architectural advances, as emperors, pursuing their love of art and architecture, constructed ambitious monuments and cities. The ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri is one such site. Meant to replace Agra Fort as the capital of the empire, it was built in the honor of Salim Chishti, a Sufi Saint who had correctly predicted the birth of emperor Akbar's son, Jahangir. The city's status as the capital was short-lived however, as the emperor had to move the capital back to the Agra Fort after 14 years due to water scarcity in the region. The abandoned city is a veritable treasure-trove of historical buildings and provides a glimpse into the extremely-meticulous planning and building skills of the Mughals. Some of the prominent buildings within the complex are the Diwan Khana-i-Am, the Panch Mahal, the colossal Buland Darwaza, the beautiful Khwabgah, the magnificent Jodha Bai's Palace, the Jama Masjid and also the tomb of Salim Chishti. The site of the ancient city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 and is an intrinsic part of a visit to Agra.

Kalakriti Cultural & Convention Centre

Head to the Kalakriti Cultural & Convention Centre to catch up on some of the happening cultural events in Agra. Concerts, traditional dance shows, drama and exhibitions are a regular feature here. The auditorium has a seating capacity for 585 spectators, and the events held at this international convention center attract a number of tourists as well as locals alike. Call or visit their website to know more about latest events.

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