Agra

Travel Guide Asia India Agra

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Introduction

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

© magdabis

The earliest reference of Indian Agra comes from the epical age, when Mahabharata the Indian Epic refer Agra as Agravana. In the sources prior to this, Agra has been referred as Arya Griha or the abode of the Aryans. The first person who referred Agra by its modern name was Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus). While unfolding its history you will stumble upon its great architectural heritage in Agra, which stands out beyond many in the world as a symbol of love in the great monument the Taj Mahal. Because of this Agra is one of the prominent destinations for people all across the world.

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HIstory

While Agra's heyday was as the capital of the Mughal Empire between 1526 and 1658, the city was founded much earlier. The earliest reference to Agra is in the ancient epic, the Mahabharata, while Ptolemy was the first person to call it by its modern name. The recorded history of Agra begins around the 11th century, and over the next 500 years, the city changed hands between various kings, both Hindu and Muslim.

In 1506, Sultan Sikandar Lodi, the ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, moved his capital from Delhi to Agra. His son Ibrahim Lodi was the last ruler of the Lodi dynasty, as he was defeated in 1526 by Babur, the first Mughal ruler, in the battle of Panipat. Agra fell too, and became the capital of the Mughals, whose rule over Agra was uninterrupted except for a brief period between 1540 and 1556. In 1540, Sher Shah Shuri overthrew Humayun became the ruler of much of North India, including Agra. After Sher Shah Suri's death his descendants proved unequal to the task of ruling the kingdom, and Hemu, a Hindu general of Suri became the effective ruler who would later crown himself King Hemachandra Vikramaditya just as the kingdom was facing an assault from the reinvigorated Mughals. In 1556, Hemu would be defeated and killed in the second battle of Panipat, and the Mughals regained Agra.

Mughals were great builders. Babur built the Aram Bagh (garden of relaxation) modelled after the garden of paradise, where he was eventually buried after his death. His grandson Akbar refurbished the Agra fort and built the Fatehpur Sikri, an entire city just on the outskirts of Agra. He also renamed Agra after himself, and the city was known as Akbarabad while it was in Mughal hands. Akbar's grandson Shah Jehan would give Agra its most famous monument, the Taj Mahal, which is the mausoleum of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj is constructed in white marble. It took 20 years to construct, and is now universally known as a monument to love. Legend has it that Shah Jehan wanted a replica of the Taj constructed in black marble that would be his final resting place. There is no support for this theory, but even if it were true, it would have been unlikely to be undertaken. His son Aurangzeb was austere and pious, and had no time or inclination for the ostentation of his forefathers, preferring to spend his money on wars in South India. In any case, even during Shah Jehan's reign, which was the period when the Mughal empire was at its height, the construction of the Taj put a strain on the resources of the empire and caused a mini-famine around Agra. Shah Jehan was eventually buried in the white Taj, next to his beloved Begum.

Shah Jehan, in addition to giving Agra its greatest claim to fame, was also responsible for beginning its decline, as he decided to shift his capital to Shahjehanabad, which is now known as Old Delhi, in 1658. Though Aurangzeb ordered a move back, this too was short lived, as he moved his headquarters down south to Aurangabad to be focus on his wars. Agra declined, and so did the Mughal Empire. The city was eventually captured by the Marathas, who renamed Agra. In 1803, it came under the British, who situated the Agra Presidency there, and when India gained independence, the city was incorporated into the state of Uttar Pradesh, and did not gain even the limited honour of being the state's capital, that distinction going to Lucknow, further east. It is now a tourist town, known for the Taj and a couple of other monuments.

A novel based on the remarkable story behind the Taj Mahal's is Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors. It is an international bestseller, and is being made into a film by Hollywood. Another historical novel is The Taj by Colin De Silva.

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Sights and Activities

Taj Mahal

Any visit to India would be incomplete without a visit to the world famous Taj Mahal, which is often described as the “Monument of Love”. Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Shahjahan's period was a golden era for the architectural skills and for their over all beautifications. The Taj Mahal was constructed entirely out of white marble and was included in the list of the New Seven Wonders of the World announced in Lisbon on 7th July 2007.

Dawn visits or visits at sundown are great opportunites for really atmospheric photographs. At first glance the Taj Mahal looks to be solid white marble, but on closer inspection it is intricately inlaid with semi-precious stones, inscriptions and floral patterns. In the strong midday sun it can be dazzling, but in the more mellow morning and evening lights it brings out all the colours and then you can really feel the romance and history of this beautiful monument.

In order to get to the Taj Mahal you will need to take an electric vehicle at a certain point. You won't be dropped off in front of the Taj but will then have to take a short walk to the Taj. During this walk you will be approached by lots of aggressive street vendors trying to sell you everything from inlaid marble and postcards. It is best to avoid and ignore them as the same items are available in the city centre at a much lower price. All of this hassle is worth it as the Taj is just unbelievable!

Agra Fort

Apart from the Taj Mahal, the imposing Agra Fort is something which should not be missed. The construction of this fort was started by Mughal Emperor Akbar and later on additional building were added by his son and grandson. The fort complex has numerous building of importance like the Moti Masjid, Sheesh Mahal, Jehangir’s Palace, Deewane-E-Am and Deewane-E-Khas.

Further afield

Some of the notable excursions that can be done from Agra are:

  • Fatehpur Sikri is located about 40 kilometres from Agra, was founded by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in the year 1564. Tourists visiting Agra must not miss this beautiful royal city which can be easily covered as a day-trip. The trip out to Fatehpur Sikri will take you some rural villages. If you are traveling independently don't miss the opportunity to stop and visit some of these rural villages. It will give you a peek into the Indian culture and life. An imposing gateway called “Buland Darwaza” guards the entrance to this city. Another notable structure is the marble tomb of Salim Chisti, the great Sufi saint who had foretold Akbar that he would be blessed with a male child. Besides these, the other structures not to be missed in this city complex are: Jodha Bai Palce, Birbal Bhawan, Panch Mahal, Deewane-e-aam and Deewane-E-Khas. Be prepared for the agressive hawkers trying to sell their stuff, just avoid them. If you are lucky to arrive at a quiet time you can get some great photo opportunities.
  • Sikandra tomb is just 12 kilometres from Agra city lies the tomb of Emperor Akbar which has been built in a secular style combining the best of Muslim and Hindu Architecture. Located centrally in the square plan, at the junction of four causeways dividing the garden into four quarters, the main imposing tomb building has five storeys and stands on a high stone platform. There are beautiful panels adorned with very lovely and intricate inlaid mosaic work. The mortuary chambers are on the ground floor and the vestibule leading to the Akbar's tomb is decorated with floral and Arabic calligraphic designs. There are other chambers that include the tombs of Aram Banu and Shukru-n-nisa (daughters of Akbar), Zebu-n-nisa (daughter of Aurangzeb) and Sulaiman Shikoh (son of Shah Alam). The first storey houses a large platform and corridors roofed by stone arches in each façade. There are several storeys that reduce in size as they ascend and the top most storey is entirely made of delicate white marble screens and has no roof.
  • Itmad-ud-daulah tomb is a mausoleum of Mirza Ghiyas Beg(also referred to as Itmad-ud-daulah), commissioned by her daughter Nur Jahan, the wife of then Mughal Emperor Jehangir. This mausoleum located on the banks of Yamuna River(left bank), is surrounded by gardens and walkaways, is often referred to as the Baby Taj.It has the same Mughal style and symmetry as the more impressive Taj Mahal and was built around 1622 and whilst you are in Agra, it makes a pleasant excursion as it is receives less visitors than the Taj itself. The towers or minarets are about 13 metres tall. The Rajasthani marble walls are also very lovingly decorated, using the same process of inlaid semi precious stones; cornelian, jasper, lapis lazuli, onyx, and topaz, as with the Taj Mahal. Mirza Ghiyas Beg, incidentally is the grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal (also known as Arjumand Bano and daughter of Asaf Khan), the wife of the emperor Shah Jahan, responsible for the construction of the Taj Mahal.
  • Radha Swami Samadhi is located in Dayal Bagh, around 15 kiometres from Agra. This magnificient building built in white marble houses the Samadhi of the founder of Radha Swami Sect and has intricate designs and patterns inside.

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Events and Festivals

  • Taj Mahotsav - Every year during the month of February, the tourism authorities organize a festival which is known as Taj Mahotsav. Cultural activities showcasing the rich heritage of the region are displayed to entertain the tourists. Visitors can enjoy the spectacular display of folk music and dance and also enjoy the authentic Mughlai cuisine during this period.
  • Holi is quite popular in the Indian sub-continent and is traditionally celebrated on the day after the full moon in the month of Phalguna (early March), according to Hindu callendar. Holi is a thanksgiving festival, where people offer prayer to God for good harvest and fertility of the land. However it has a legend attached to it according to which an arrogant king resents his son Prahlada from worshipping Lord Vishnu. He attempts to kill his son but fails each time, finally he asks his sister Holika, who is said to be immune to burning, sits with Prahlada in fire. However Prahlada emerges alive and Holika is burnt to death. Holi commemorates this event from the Hindu mythology, and huge bonfires are burnt on the eve of Holi as its symbolic representation. This festival is also associated with the immortal love story of Krishna and Radha, and hence celebrations are spread over a period of 2 weeks in Vrindavan and Mathura - the two cities associated with Krishna. Holi is a festival of freedom from social norms and caste inhibitions are shed for a day as people indulge in fun and merry-making. Colors and 'gulal' are showered on the people dressed up for the occasion and the whole community seems to merge into one big family under the guise of colors, without any distinction whatsoever. Children with face smeared with colors run around with 'pichkaris' (big syringes to splash colored water) and play amongst themselves. People exchange good wishes, sweets and gifts. Holi is also marked by vibrant processions which are accompanied by folk songs, dances and drum beating. Parties are also organized where snacks and the traditional milk-based drink “Thandai” is served which is often intoxicated with “Bhang”. Of late, lots of foreigners have started taking interest in this festival and they even enjoy the colors and the intoxicating drink. It is advised to cover your hair with a cap and eyes with sunglasses to avoid the colors splashing the eyes and damaging the hair.
  • Republic Day - Republic Day is a national holiday in India every January 26 to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution in 1950 and the declaration of independence in 1930. The capital of New Delhi is the focus of the celebrations, including a flag raising ceremony, wreath laying, 21-gun salute, Presidential speech, and presentation of awards for selflessness and bravery. A massive military parade includes elephants ridden by children who have received national accolades.
  • Gandhi Jayanti - Gandhi Jayanti is a national public holiday commemorating the birth of the peaceful activist, Mohandas Gandhi on October 2, 1869. The celebration coincides with the United Nations’ International Day of Non-Violence. In India, Gandhi is remembered through statues, flower and candle offerings, prayers and singing the devotional hymn Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram. The Indian government issues special mint rupees and postage stamps bearing his picture.
  • Ganesh Chaturthi - The ten-day September festival of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrates the birthday of the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesh with culture, concerts and feasts. The biggest events take place in Maharashtra where people worship an idol for ten days before taking it to the river or sea and drowning it.
  • Navarathri, Dussehra Festival - This theatrical Hindu festival takes place over ten days in October. The first nine feature dancing to honor the Mother Goddess. The tenth day commemorates Lord Rama’s defeat of demon king Ravana and goddess Durga’s triumph over Mahishasura, the buffalo demon. The event is called Durga Puja in east India where the faithful create huge statues to immerse in the Ganges River.
  • Diwali - Diwali is the five-day festival of lights held in India in late October or early November each year. The widely celebrated Hindu event marks Lord Rama’s victory over the demon Ravan. Homes and streets are decorated with lights, candles and small clay lamps, and new clothes are worn and sweets are exchanged.

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Weather

Agra is quite hot and dry during the summers with temperatures reaching up to 45 °C in the month of June. The best time to visit Agra is during winters (November-February). This area does not receive much rainfall and most of the rainfall occurs during July and August.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max22.3 °C25.5 °C31.9 °C37.9 °C41.7 °C40.7 °C35.3 °C33.2 °C34 °C34 °C29.2 °C23.9 °C
Avg Min7.7 °C10.3 °C15.4 °C21.5 °C26.5 °C28.9 °C26.8 °C25.7 °C24.3 °C19.1 °C12.5 °C8.2 °C
Rainfall13.3 mm17.7 mm9.1 mm6.7 mm11.9 mm55.7 mm203.3 mm241.1 mm128.5 mm25.2 mm4.3 mm6 mm
Rain Days1.91.71.71.32.34.713.814.97.71.50.81

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Getting There

By Plane

The government is planning a new international airport which is expected to be operational in around 3 years time. For now, the small Agra Airport only receives flights from Delhi by Kingfisher Airlines. The nearest big airport is Delhi International Airport, which is about 200 kilometres away.

By Train

Agra is a major railway station and trains are available from the city to almost all the major cities of India. Agra has two major stations, namely Agra Cantt and Agra Fort, visitors should check the departure station printed on the ticket to avoid any confusion. Trains are the best way to reach Varanasi, Jaipur and Haridwar (for Rishikesh) as well.

Agra Cantt train station is an important stop on the main Delhi–Mumbai (Bombay) line, with several trains daily from both New Delhi and Hazrat Nizamuddin train stations. The fastest and most comfortable train to and from Delhi is the daily AC Shatabdi Express (two hours). It leaves New Delhi at 6:15am and departs from Agra for the return trip at 8:30pm, making a daytrip possible.

Most east–west trains now leave from Agra Fort station. For Varanasi the best option is the nightly Marudhar Express, which leaves Agra Fort train station at 9:15pm, reaching Varanasi around 9:30am the next morning. The same train also runs west to Jaipur, leaving Agra at 6:15am, reaching Jaipur at 11:20am.

Agra also has several long-haul daily trains to Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). Recently Khajuraho has been directly connected to Agra with an overnight train leaving Agra at 11:20pm and arriving in Khajuraho next morning at 06:50am.

Further information about the train routes, schedule, available of berths and fares can be checked on IRCTC website.

By Car

Taxis are easily available from Delhi/Jaipur and the quality of road on Agra-Delhi section is excellent. However, the distances are further than people expect so allow about four hours for the journey by car from Delhi. It takes around 4 hours by car from Delhi to Agra depending on the traffic.

By Bus

State transport buses and also private buses regularly ply between Agra and the nearby cities. Most long-haul buses leave from Idgah bus station. Hourly buses run to Delhi’s Sarai Kale Khan bus station (five hours) via Mathura (1½ hours). Deluxe AC buses depart at 7:30am and 3:30pm. Hourly buses go to Jaipur (six hours) and two buses daily go to Khajuraho (10 hours) leaving at 5:00am and 6:30am. Frequent buses head off to Fatehpur Sikri (one hour) and Bharatpur (1½ hours).

From Agra Fort bus station buses leave for Dehra Dun (12 hours), Haridwar (11 hours), Lucknow (10 hours) and Delhi (five hours). Rajasthan government buses depart from Hotel Sakura, close to Idgah bus station. Deluxe buses run hourly to Jaipur (5½ hours) between 6:30am and 2:30pm and then at 4:30pm, 5:30pm, 7:30pm, 10:00pm and midnight. Between March and October AC buses run three times daily.

By Boat

No boat option is available. Agra is land-locked, but situated on the banks of the Yamuna river.

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Getting Around

Tongas, electric buses and electric tempos are readily available, and the best way to get to the Taj, where no cars are allowed. Auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws are available every where, remember to agree on fares clearly in advance. Foreigners shoukd bargain everywhere and bargain hard. Generally things are available at 40% of the initially quoted fares. Tempos have been replaced by auto-rickshaws, which mainly run on CNG (Compressed Natural Gas).

UP State Road Transport Corporation operates some non-air conditioned and air-conditioned buses but those run only on specific routes. The best way to experience the city is to take a walk on the Mall Road (Sadar). The street is full of handicraft and leather goods shops. You will also find plenty of food items quite unique to the city.

As polluting vehicles are banned around Taj Mahal, one needs to use Tonga or electric auto while travelling in the range of Taj Mahal. Camels are also available. As a guide, an auto rickshaw from Agra Cantonement station to the Taj Mahal is about ₹80 (at least in off season); and a cycle rickshaw from the Taj Mahal to Agra Fort is ₹40. You can also walk between the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, in about 30 minutes.

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Eat

The architectural wonders of Agra are as amazing as is the food from the Northern region, which traces its descent from Persian cuisine. It is the Mughal people who introduced the aromatic pilafs and biryanis. The spicy kormas and koftas were created for the tables of Emperors.

Agra specialities are petha, a type of very sweet candy, and Dal Moth, a spicy lentil mix. Both are also popular souvenirs.

Chaat - Agra is a heaven for any Chaat lover. Chaat can be of various types but there is one thing common among them all is that they are spicy and you will find crowd outside virtually every chaat stall, especially popular places like Double Phatak (near Sikandra) for Mangores. You'll find quality Bhallas and Panipuri at Sadar and Belangunj. Samosa and Kachori are found at every sweet shop that flood the city. Some typical chaat items are Aloo Tikki (made by roasting mess made out of boiled potatoes), paneer tikka (cubes of cottage cheese baked in a tandoor with spices), pani puri or golguppa (small round hollow shells filled with a potato-based filling and a spicy sweet blend of sauces), mangores, Samosaes, Chachori etc. If you want to savour the typical Agra breakfast have a bite of one of those spicy Berahi and round it off with sweet Jalebies.
Sweets - There are quite a few good sweets shops. The best for the famous petha of Agra are at Hari Parwat, a short distance from Agra Fort. Amongst the well-known shops are Panchi's, Bhimsain BaidyaNath and The Pracheen Petha store. There are many types of petha available but, for the authentic experience, try either the plain one (ivory white) or Angoori flavoured (rectangular and yellow pieces soaked in sugar syrup). Other shops in Agra include: Bikanervala, Deviram, Munnalal Petha, Gopaldas, and Ajanta Sweets, Kamla Nagar. You can round off your meal with a Joda (pair) of Pan unique to the city.

Gulshan Highest (opposite the South gate of the Taj), ☏ +91 8449997950, +91 9808738895, +91 9359719161. A good cheap place near the Taj. Serves reasonable western food, and their rice pudding/pancakes are good. Sit up on the roof for a glimpse of the Taj over the roofs. ₹25-₹80. Banana pancake ₹25, Curry ₹60, Naan ₹5.
Joney's place, Taj ganj. Perfect for early breakfast, when you want to wake up early to visit the Taj at 6AM. ₹10 Toast, ₹10 coffee, ₹15 cornflakes.
Kamat Hotel. Roof top restaurant with view of the Taj. Beer available. ₹70 for a vegetable curry.
Nice point Restaurant, near western gate of Taj Mahal. 6AM-8PM. Professes to serve North and South Indian, Chinese, continental, Mughali, American and Italian food. Free wifi, LCD television and a collection of films and songs. Breakfast ₹50, lunch ₹100, dinner ₹150 per person.
Only Restaurant, ☏ +91 562-2364333, +91 562-2266508. ₹600-800 for main dish of 2.
Priya Restaurant, Fatehabad road near Shanti Manglik hospital, ☏ +91 5622231579, +91 805-7108649. Three star restaurant, air conditioned, LCD TV, all food types available except south Indian. ₹250/person.
The Silk Route Restaurant (TSR), 18-A/7-B Fatehabad Road (Opposite Howard Park Plaza), ☏ +91 562 4002786. Daily 8AM-10:30PM. Mughalai fine dining.
Treat Restaurant, South Gate Taj Mahal, ☏ +91 931 969 7497, ✉ treatagra@yahoo.co.in. breakfast, lunch and dinner. ₹20-₹60 for main dish, good Indian food.

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Drink

Always drink bottled water or purified water in Agra and in all India if you want to avoid sickness. It is always wise to check the seal on the water bottle as in places where they expect lots of tourists there are those who will try and make some extra rupees by re-filling bottles with tap water to sell on to gullible tourists.

A bottle of Indian beer costs around ₹70-100 in a hotel, but there is virtually no nightlife in Agra outside of cultural shows at some of the larger hotels and restaurants. After getting off the streets of Agra and into your hotel, you will not want to go back anyway.

Amar Vilas Bar, Taj East Gate Rd. noon to midnight. Beer for ₹200 and cocktails for ₹450. The terrace of Amar Vilas Bar provides a view of the Taj.
Downing Street Bar, Howard Sarovar Portico, Fatehabad Road, ☏ +91 562 4048600, +91 562 4048699. High quality of beverages and pleasant ambience. Downing Street Bar offers dishes such as pizza and tandoori chicken from the same kitchen.
Mughal Bar, 54, Taj Road, ☏ +91 562 222 6121, +91 562 222 6129. It's in the compound of Hotel Clarks Shiraz’s, Mughal Bar is an open-aired roof bar. It offers some continental delicacies along with Indian ones.

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Sleep

Plenty of accommodation ranging from budget to expensive hotels is available to suit every budget. It is advisable to book in advance if you are visiting Agra during the peak season (December to February). However, there are a lot of modern style hotels that are quite charmless and not alot of places have local authentic style, but Agra is not somewhere most travellers choose to languish as it is all about the Taj Mahal and the locals know that the tourist will keep on coming regardless of the standard and charm of the accommodation, but they may not go back again!

Col Lamba Indian Home Stay, 58 Gulmohar Enclave, Shamshabad Rd, ☏ +91 562-3298921. checkout Around ₹700 per person.
Shahjahan, South Gate, near police station Tajganj, ☏ +91 562 320 0240, ✉ shahjahan.hotel@gmail.com. Almost fancy hotel and restaurant, with a café and a rooftop with great views of the Taj Mahal. Wi-Fi only downstairs in the reception. The staff are very helpful. Five minutes' walk from the Taj. ₹300 for a couple.
Dayal Lodge (Budget Hotel in City Centre), 25 New Agra, Dayalbagh Road (Towards Dayalbagh), ☏ +91 9219606365, +91 9359848731, +91 562-2524560, fax: +91 562 2524560, ✉ dayallodge@gmail.com. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Established in the early 1960s, with 16 furnished air conditioned rooms. 24 hr made-to-order meals, in-house laundry facilities, local airport/railway station transfers. Double room with air-con ₹700-800.
Friends Paying Guest House (friendsguesthouse786@gmail.com), p-6 , taj nagri phase 1, near shilpgram road, Agra, India 282001 (Southeast of Shilpgram parking lot), ☏ +91 99 1788 5278. Check-in: noon, check-out: 1PM. Family-run guest house 15-min walk east from the Taj. Food, decent Wi-Fi, TV in rooms. Cushion-furnished balcony common area for eating, drinking and lazing about. Double ₹400.
Hotel Amba Inn, 1/51, Delhi Gate, Near Raja ki Mandi Railway Station (2 mins from railway station), ☏ +91 562 2520779, +91 9412720194. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Offers facilities for 22 rooms. There are both double rooms, single rooms, as well as facility for an extra bed. All the rooms are air conditioned, with television. Single ₹550-800, double ₹650-900.
Hotel Jaiwal, 3 Taj Road, Sadar Bazar, ☏ +91 562 2363153. ₹75-325.
Hotel Kamal (by the south gate of the Taj Mahal), ☏ +91 562-2330126, ✉ hotelkamal@hotmail.com. ₹300-850.
Hotel Neel Kanth, Fatehabad Road, ☏ +91 562 2362039. ₹100+.
Hotel Sheela, Tajganj (100 metres from eastern gate of Taj Mahal), ☏ +91 562-2333074, ✉ hotelsheelaagraindia@yahoo.com. Check-out: 10AM. Commission-free transport bookings, free incoming phone calls, 24 hour hot water. 22 rooms. Laundry facility. ₹500-800.
India Inn, Taj Mahal South Gate (As you come out on the street from the south exit, turn left, then almost immediately right down the side of the Taj café, it's at the end of the dusty parking lot 40 m from the café). Check-out: 10AM negotiable. Comfortable enough. ₹300 for a double in off season.
Saniya Palace, Chowk Kajziyan, South Gate, Taj Ganj, ☏ +91 562 3270199. Good budget hotel with some air-con rooms. 24 hr room service. Friendly staff & fantastic views of the Taj Mahal from the roof top restaurant. ₹700
Shanti lodge. South Taj gate. From ₹400 economic room, non air-con. Hot water, TV. Restaurant on the roof top. Be careful with the bed sheets, not very clean. Cloak room available.
Youth Hostel, Sanjay Place, M. G. Road, ☏ +91 562 2154462. ₹50-₹125.
Rhine Hostel (Rhine YOGA Hostel), HIG - 2/10, Near Shilpgram Parking, Taj Nagri Phase 1, Taj East Gate Rd, Telipara, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001 (1 km from east gate of Taj mahal, next to Shilpgram parking), ☏ +9199973 79977, ✉ rhinestay@outlook.com. Check-in: 1.00 p.m, check-out: 11.00 a.m. 6 Rooms, 10 minute walking distance from Taj Mahal, rooftop, Free Stay in exchange of Work available. Food, Wi-Fi, common area for eating, drinking and lazing about. single ₹199.
Harshit paying guest house (harshitguesthouse00004@gmail.com), P-50A Taj nagari phase-1, Tajganj ,Agra (Fatehabad Road near big bazaar), ☏ +91 931-9105293. Check-out: noon. Five clean rooms, running hot water in the bathroom, fully air conditioned, LCD TV, Internet, home cooked food. ₹5,000.
Hotel Mandakini Villas, Fatehabad Road, Purani Mandi, Taj Ganj (200 metres from the Taj Mahal's West Gate), ☏ +91 5626453854. Check-out: noon. Offers air-conditioned rooms each with cable TV with 100 channels, broadband Internet connection, private bathroom. You might get a little bit warmer than cold water by requesting it from the reception a few times. It is not possible to sleep without ear plugs in the first floor because of the noise coming from corridor and reception all night. Get a room on the higher floors. Rates start at ₹2,690.
Hotel Priya, Near Priya Restaurant, Near TDI Mall, Fatehabad Road (400m from the Taj Mahal's East Gate parking), ☏ +91 562 223 1350, +91 983 777 4948. Check-out: noon. Offers air-con rooms each with cable TV with 100 channels, Internet connection, private bathroom. One of the best in this range. Dbl: ₹1,355-₹2,850. Breakfast ₹150 (taxes not included.).
Hotel Raj. Directly in front of the central entry of the Taj Mahal, simple but clean. About ₹800.
Hotel Taj Resorts, Plot No.538, Agra-282 001 (Near Shilpgram, which is 1km from the Eastern Gate), ☏ +91-562-2230161, fax: +91-562-2230164. Built in 2010, restaurant with rooftop seating and a beautiful pool, great view of the Taj (if not blocked by terrible pollution). 60-70USD/night, ₹4,000-₹6,000 (June 2012, tax not included).
Laurie's Hotel, Mahatma Gandhi Road, ☏ +91 562 2364536, fax: +91 562 2268045. An old colonial hotel from the British era, some say it hasn't been upgraded since, Laurie's retains some of the charm of travelling in India during the Raj. Rooms with very high ceilings (fans, no aircon) lead off from verandahs with nice lawns outside. A swimming pool is closed in the winter. One can get British era service with 'bed tea', excellent freshly made chicken curry and rice to order, and creaky plumbing. Some people will love it, others may hate it.
N.Home Stay, 15 Ajanta Colony, Vibhav Nagar, ☏ +91 969-0107860, +91 989-7444410, ✉ nguesthouse.agra@gmail.com. Check-out: 10AM. A family owned, operated guest house in a peaceful and quite colony away from the city traffic and pollution. Free parking, 24hr free Wi-Fi, cable TV, all day water supply and accessible roof top. Single air-con room [June 2012]: ₹1199 & Double air-con room [June 2012]: ₹1499.
9 star hotel, 18|159|A|4A-4B,M.P Pura Taj Ganj,Opp Kailash Cinema,Purani Mandi Crossing,Fatehabad Road., ☏ +91-8476887609, +91-9837159434, ✉ harshvardhan@9starhotel.com. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. ₹3,000-₹3,700.
Rajmahal hotel, Shilpgram , vip road (eastern gate),282010, agra. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. 9 km from agra airport. You will also get a nice view of Taj Mahal, which is 3 km away. from ₹3,500 to ₹5,500 for couple.
ITC Mughal, Taj Ganj, ☏ +91-562-4021700. Formerly the Sheraton Mughal, this is one of Agra's top hotels, with views of the Taj from the roof viewing pavilion. Large pool. The hotel's age is starting to show, but the rooms are in fine shape. Popular with tour groups. Double Room Prices [June 2012]: from ₹4,845 to ₹100,000. Taxes not included..
Oberoi Amarvilas, Taj East Gate Road, ☏ +91 562 2231515. The best (and most expensive) hotel in Agra. It is consistently rated among the top 10 hotels in Asia. Double Rooms Prices [June 2012]: from ₹21,000 to ₹41,000 Breakfast (₹2,000) & taxes not included.
The Trident Agra, Fathebad Road, ☏ +91 562 2331818. Formerly the Trident Hilton, it's further away from the Taj than others, but is near the TDI Mall. Rooms from US$89.
The Gateway Hotel.
Four Points by Sheraton.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Keep Connected

Internet

There's good coverage over most of India for Internet cafes. However, following the recent terror attacks in Mumbai and some other cities, all internet cafes have been instructed by the authorities to maintain a register and note down the identification details of all persons using internet. Sify iWay is a reliable and cheap cafe with over 1,600 cafes over India. iWay also allows you to open a pre-paid account that you can use all over India. Whenever you have Internet access probably the best and cheapest way to call family and friends at home is software that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet such as Skype.

Wifi hotspots in India are, for most part, limited. The major airports and stations do offer paid wifi at around RS.60-100 an hour. Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai are the only cities with decent wifi coverage. At Mumbai airport, you get to use WiFi internet free, for an hour or so.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country code for India is 91. To dial outside the country from India, prefix the country code with 00.

The general emergency number is 100 (emergency response police & fire), while for ambulance you should dial 102 or 112, though some regions have 108 for this emergency. 108 is used in in the Indian states of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Goa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha,Assam, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. 108 can be called for medical, crime, fire, or any other emergency from any phone.

Local phone numbers can be anywhere from 5-8 digits long. But when the area code is included, all landline phone numbers in India are 10 digits long. Cellphone numbers usually start with '9', '8', or '7'. Toll-free numbers start with 1-800.

If staying longterm it is probably wise to think about investing in a mobile phone. You'll possibly need to provide a photocopy of your passport and itinerary, so come prepared. Make sure you arrange it upon arrival in a big city, as it can sometimes be difficult to organise with language barriers and such in more regional areas. You can buy a cheap nokia for about RS.1,200 with a pre-paid plan. Airtel is a good carrier to think about as they have great coverage, and constant offers for cheaper calling. To recharge, most shop vendors with phone carrier signs can do it via their own phone. You give them your mobile number, they put it in their phone and you'll both get messages as to whether or not the recharge has been successful. Also, if possible, buy the phone in the state where you do the most travelling as the charges are higher in the states where you did not originally buy the phone.

Over the entire country there are plenty of public phones, even in the middle of the countryside. Although most of the time these phones are not very well maintained and have horrible connections. Therefore remember when using one of these public phones one must be extremely patient.
For international calls from payphones, you'll have to visit a reputable internet cafe with a phone-booth. Mobile phones are usually a better and cheaper option.

Post

India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost RS.50 to 200. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.

If you want to send bigger packages/parcels, it might be better, faster and sometimes even cheaper, to contact a private company like DHL, TNT or UPS.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 27.177719
  • Longitude: 78.0093

Accommodation in Agra

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