Agra India - Travel and Touring Guide.

Agra is one of the most well known places in the world because of the existance of the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.

Therefore anybody on a tour in India (including of course doing The Golden Triangle sequence) will want to visit the city as part of their itinerary.

Typical street in Agra, India.

Travelling to Agra and/or the Bharatpur area.

This obviously depends on which part of India you are setting out from - if travelling south from Delhi to Agra then Indian Railways offer fast'ish frequent journeys into Agra. There is also a very good road directly down from Delhi to Agra which has fast coach services plying up and down the route or obviously there is the much more expensive but very convenient choice of hiring a car and driver / taxi. If travelling up from the south of India there are quite a few trains running each day from Gwalior (also a limited service running from Khajuraho and Orchha but the times are not good and this involves a few changes) up into Agra. In fact one "express" train which starts at Gwalior continues on after Agra and stops at Bharatpur if you are staying there. Agra's airport is not at time of writing open for commercial flights so the nearest airports are many miles away - namely Delhi, Jaipur, Khajuraho or Gwalior.

Where to stay - using a hotel right in Agra or consider staying at nearbye Bharatpur?.

Agra hotels are rather expensive without seemingly getting much for your money.
St. Mary's Church at Agra, India. St. John's College at Agra in India.The nearbye city of Bharatpur therefore might be an option - accommodation is much less expensive than in Agra and Bharatpur is way more peaceful as the town is located within the Indian countryside and totally different to Agra's tourist mayhem. Bharatpur's wildlife sanctuary is on the doorstep, there is easy bus or train access to Agra plus a daytrip to Fatehpur-Sikri is easy as it is only around a 35 minute (and frequent) bus ride away from Bharatpur. Additionally if continuing an India tour by going on to visit Jaipur by car (quite a long way) this becomes a shorter journey than if done from Agra.
However the downside is that although fairly inexpensive to stay in, Bharatpur hotels are mostly quite basic in and around the town and there are no particularly useable restaurants available.
Away from the places tourists are expected to visit, Agra also has some quite nice buildings to look at amongst the mayhem. Hiring an auto for an hour or so to take a ride around Agra is worthwhile if time permits.

Looking inside Jami Masjid or Jama Masjid at Agra, India.

Jami Masjid yard at Agra, India. Entrance gate to Jami Masjid at Agra. Constructed with red sandstone, Jama Masjid - which is generally referred too as "Friday Mosque" - is a huge mosque located on the opposite side of the road to Agra Fort. The mosque is pretty much surrounded by crowded narrow streets containg bazaars and markets selling items such as jewellery, marble, dried fruits, shoes and clothes.
Since this is an active Mosque then entry is free during daylight hours however there may be some restriction on where you can go during Prayer Times particularly on Fridays. Also note that particularly for women, dress must be conservative i.e. no shorts and skimpy tops etc. and only men can go into the Prayer Hall. Expect to be approached and asked to make a "donation". In all likelyhood you will be shown a notebook with entries indicating that people have donated sometimes many 100s if not 1000s of rupees i.e. meaning so should you. Actually anywhere between 50 and 100 rupees is quite adequate - don't give into what can be sometimes a quite intimidating demand for said "donation".
Front view of Jami Mosque in Agra. The  Prayer Hall at Jami Masjid, Agra. Jama Masjid was sponsored by Jahanara Begum who was the favourite daughter of Mughal Emperor Shan Jahan. It was built in 1648 and originally connected to Agra Fort with a large courtyard which then lead to Delhi Gate. Delhi Gate was originally the fort's main entrance for use by the royals entourage. The building is topped by three huge sandstone domes which are covered in marble - these domes have been carved with a zig zag pattern. The Prayer Hall has five massive archways and there is also a separate Prayer Chamber for use by women.
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