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Nazish Khan Sep 26 2014

How to explore Agra on a budget?

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Agra is one of those perfect weekend getaways where you can have the most memorable vacation without splurging too much! Here is our list which will be of great help in exploring Agra on a budget!

Taj Mahal (from official tourism website)

For Art and History Buffs

Taj Mahal

This spectacular monument of love sits by the Yamuna’s banks in the former Mughal capital. The epitome of romance and love, the Taj Mahal was built by the famous Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. This splendid white marble mausoleum is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Taj Mahal (from official website of Taj Mahal)

Entry Fee: INR 20 for Indians and INR 750 for foreigners

Agra Fort

Akbar was the first of the great Mughal builders. Under him Agra became Akbarabad and the old Lodi forts were replaced by a new architectural style. The Agra Fort, built between 1565 and 1573 was Akbar’s pet project. Its towers and battlements, gateways and enclosures are not simply features of a well-designed fortress but make for an artistic marvel as well.


Agra Fort (from official tourism website)

Within the fort your must-see list would include: The Nagina Masjid which housed the harem; Zenana Meena Bazaar, where the ladies shopped; the Shah Burj, or royal quarters; the Musamman Burj from where Shah Jahan spent his last days gazing at his wife’s tomb; the Diwan-i- Khaas and the Hauz-i-Jahangiri.



Jahangir's Palace (by Sanyambahga)

Entry Fee: INR 20 for Indians

Fatehpur Sikri

This astonishing city was built by Akbar in honour of the famous saint, Salim Chishti, the resident saint of Sikri. Located about an hour’s drive from Agra, Fatehpur Sikri is adorned with pavilions and courtyards, domes, balconies, terraces, gardens, tanks, pools and baths. It is playful and full of surprises: turn a corner and find an enchanted walled garden; climb out of an apartment and find a tree perfectly framed in a window.


Buland Darwaza

Must-sees include: Buland Darwaza, the highest gate in India; the tomb of Salim Chishti; the palace of Marya-muzzamani; and Birbal Bhavan.


Tomb of Salim Chisti (by Sfu)

Entry Fee: INR 20 for Indians & INR 260 for Foreigners

Unique Experiences

UP Tourism Daily Tours

Embark upon an insightful and interesting journey of Agra via UP Tourism's Daily Tour which will take you to the famous monuments for a closer look at them. It is just perfect for those who are short on time but don’t want to miss out any major attraction in city. You can opt for a half-day or full-day tour, depending on your time and preference and the time duration of these tours is about 5-8 hours. The tours normally cover places like Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Shilpgram, some of the most notable places to see in Agra.


Agra Fort (from official tourism website)

Entry Fee: INR 350 for Indians (half-day tour); INR 500 for Indians (full-day tour)INR 700 for foreigners (half-day tour); INR 2000 for foreigners (full-day tour)

Mohabbat, The Taj

Running every day at the Kalakriti Centre, Fatehabad Road, Mohabbat, The Taj is a multi-media, old-Bollywood- style dance-drama that claims to show you the Taj in moonlight, sunlight, rain and mist. The stage finally splits open revealing “the largest replica of the Taj Mahal”.

There’s one and a half hours of Shah Jahan, Mumtaz, their courtiers and others speaking in ornate Urdu (with interpretations in English and foreign languages available on headsets). Laser lights in every possible colour light up the stage, and many group dances take place while back-screen projections mesmerize the audience.

Entry Fee: Tickets start at INR 350.

Shopper’s Delight

Shilpgram

For some affordable handicraft shopping, try Shilpgram in Agra about 1 km from the Taj’s East Gate, which boasts of a nice collection of open-air handcrafted items. Set in a typical village setting, the market features stunning hand-made artefacts of local craftsmen and artisans.


Handicrafts at local market (by A. Davey)

Shilpgram also organizes an arts festival every year in February which showcases some amazing arts, cultural performances and crafts and you can enjoy local delicacies as well.


Local souvenirs (by rajkumar1220)

Mughal Bazaar

The bustling market, one of the best shopping places in Agra, is lined with several shops from where you can buy stuff like mini Taj Mahal models, leather shoes, clothes, gift items, jewellery and other souvenirs. The best part about this place is that you can buy all this and more at prices that won’t hurt your pocket at all. Bargaining is an absolute must at the Mughal Bazaar.


Local market (by mwanasimba)

Foodies

Local Restaurants

The city offers a wide range of eating-out experiences from the top-rated restaurants in Agra to street food. For those who like Mughlai food, Agra is a haven. There are several great options in the city like Pinch of Spice, Shankara Vegis Restaurant and Lakshmi Vilas. For vegetarians there are plenty of options too. Dasaprakash, close to the Agra Ashok Hotel, has your favourite idli- dosa-sambhar combos and the ever-popular Chiman near the Jami Masjid has delicious thalis at reasonable prices.


Masala Dosa (by Khanster)

Local Dishes

Agra is as famous for its delicious petha (sweet candy) as it is for Taj Mahal. The best shop to pack yourself these sugary delights is Panchhi Petha Store where you can have all the varieties like doda petha, kancha petha and chocolate petha to name a few.


Petha (by official Facebook page of Panchhi Petha Store, Agra)

The city is also known for its spicy chaat and dalmoth (a kind of namkeen which is made from fried lentils, nuts, spices and oil). Some of the notable places for enjoying these flavours are Double Phatak and Kinari Bazaar (for chaat) and Girdhari Lal Mangal Singh Dal Moth Wale and Panchhi Petha Store (for dalmoth).


Dalmoth (from official website of Panchhi Petha Store)

Hope this list will help you in exploring Agra on a budget and you will come back with great memories. Also, don’t forget to check hotels in Agra for some nice affordable accommodation options. One more thing that you can do to further lower the budget is try considering travelling by trains instead of flights. It is quite obvious that in a majority of cases trains are cheaper than flights. Book the ticket, check the PNR Status and head off for a journey of your lifetime.

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