Fatehpur Sikri#4 in Best Things To Do in Agra
Believe it or not, this gorgeous city was built all thanks to one man's blessing. Emperor Akbar, the one also responsible for the Agra Fort, visited the Sikri village to seek guidance from a saint sometime in the 16th century. At the time, there was no heir to his throne, but conveniently after the consultation, Akbar was blessed with the sons he needed to carry on his legacy. To celebrate, Akbar built Fatehpur Sikri, which translates to "City of Victory." Fatehpur Sikri was intended to be the capital of Agra and seat of the Mughal dynasty. Knowing this, you may ask: Why have I never heard of Fatehpur Sikri before? Due to a lack of water, the city was abandoned just a few years after its construction. Just about 23 miles west of Agra, Fatehput Sikri lay empty for hundreds of years. Now, the bewitching ghost town sees an influx of annual visitors, thanks to its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While here, make sure to stop in the Diwan-i-Khas, Akbar's royal chambers, the tomb of the saint that granted Akbar's destiny (the Tomb of Salim Chisti) as well as Jami' Masjid, the on-site mosque said to be modeled after the Great Mosque of Mecca.
With fewer crowds than the Taj Mahal or Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri is a favorite among travelers for its ornate and detailed Mughal architecture (Fatehpur Sikri is considered to be one of the best examples in the world). Visitors also enjoy being able to tour the magnificent grounds at a leisurely pace. The biggest downside for travelers was surprisingly not the distance to this attraction (it's an hour's drive by car), but rather the hawkers and unofficial guides that pervade the area.
To get to Fatehpur Sikri, it's best to be part of a pre-booked tour that has its own transportation to the attraction. Viator offers tours that include a visit to Fatehpur Sikri. You can also hop on a tour with the Uttar Pradesh tourism board for 450 rupees, or about $7. For more information, consult the Taj Mahal's official website. If you're not interested in a tour, hire a private car to get you to the attraction. Buses do go to Fatehpur Sikri but are only allowed to get within a certain distance due to preservation purposes. This is a problem as travelers report that the aggressive hawkers and "guides" are the most concentrated leading up to the entrance. Admission to Fatehpur Sikri costs 485 rupees (about nearly $8); visitors are welcome from sunrise to sunset. For more information, consult the city of Agra's official website.
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#1 Taj Mahal
Plain and simple: This is the reason you come to Agra. The Taj Mahal is a majestic tomb built in the Mughal style, which combines Indian, Islamic and Persian architectural principles. Visitors marvel at the intricate Quran inscriptions, the structure's perfect symmetry, the ornate accents, and the surrounding manicured gardens. But this monument's enchantment goes beyond its arresting visual appeal: The story behind its creation has drawn romantics for centuries.
According to legend, Emperor Shah Jahan (part of the Mughal dynasty, which ruled the majority of northern India between the 16th and 18th centuries) fell deeply in love with Arjumand Banu Begum, who became his favorite of his three wives. They shared such an intense passion for each another that he renamed her "Mumtaz Mahal," or "Chosen One of the Palace." After many years of happy marriage, Mumtaz passed away during the birth of her 14th child. To commemorate their undying love for one another, the Shah built the Taj Mahal as an elaborate tomb. The tomb is made up entirely of white marble and features jade, crystal, lapis, turquoise and amethyst stones inlaid throughout. Over 20,000 workers labored over the site for more than 20 years.
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