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10 Offbeat Things to Do in Agra
Tips to Stay Alive in Agra, India.
Agra is known for being the home of the famed Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The city is located on the Yamuna River in the state of Uttar Pradesh with a population of over 1 million people who speak Hindi, Urdu and English.
Once you’ve seen the Taj, however, there are still many other fascinating things to make your trip a memorable one. A bit of detective work proves there is something to varied interests and taste of all kinds.
If you would prefer an educational look . . .
- Visit Agra Fort, a sandstone group of buildings on the Yamua River built as a military structure in 1565 and then transformed into a palace by Shah Jahan. Ironically it later became his prison for eight years after he was overthrown by his son.
- A day trip to nearby Fatepur Sikri could include Panch Mahal, meaning the wind catcher tower. Composed of five stories in an asymmetrical size resembling a Buddhist temple and rising from a ground floor, the entire structure is supported by solely by 84 columns. Built as a pleasure palace by the emperor Akbar, it is near the Lady’s House or Harem.
- Visit the numerous colonial sites built during the time of British rule. Guests at the Amwar Nimas bungalow are treated to High Tea with the family of the late Major Amar Singh, who served in the Royal British India Army.
- Also in Fatepur Sikri, a trip to the Marble Factory allows you to not only view the Mughal artistry process by which precious and semi-precious gemstones are inlaid in shining white marble.
If you are hungry and want to shop . . .
- Get your exercise and explore Agra on a bicycle by taking the Bike Tour. You are given everything you need to make your trip stress-free, safe and fun as you ride the streets visiting shops and markets. One recommended ride is at night, mainly on the Cantt. roads, taking you around the villages near the city.
- Take a four-hour tour that introduces you to the thriving agricultural aspects of the city with a visit to a local farmer, a hands-on cooking session and lunch. Learn the essentials of Northern Indian cooking as well as the rules and religious taboos that are attached to food.
- The Agra Food Walk is guaranteed to be clean, safe and utterly delicious with unlimited food and non-alcoholic drinks from various posh markets while you explore the non-touristy shops and sights. It begins around 6 p.m. and lasts three hours.
- In the same vein, but much more hands-on is Kinari Bazaar, located northwest of the Agra Fort. Numerous shops and stalls offer jewelry, shoes, spices and marble work among other things. People are everywhere and despite the exceptionally narrow walking lanes, water buffaloes and cows, even working elephants, can be found here.
If you love nature and photography. . .
- Animal lovers will want to see the Agra Bear Rescue Center, set up by Wildlife SOS on 160 acres inside the Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary. It is home to hundreds of sloth bears once kept in captivity and forced to perform for customers, who have been taken there to live out their lives in a natural setting.
- Visit Taj Nature Park, a division of Agra’s Social Forestry Division, where birds, wildlife, shrubs and rare plants are waiting for you as you walk a 9 KM trail and paths designed specifically for easy access and visitors’ comfort. Specific points that are best for camera work have been set up along the way.
Tips: Wear comfortable shoes, conservative clothing particularly when planning to visit religious sites, and carry your water bottle (in some places, that’s all you are allowed to carry inside with you.).