The Taj Mahal needs no introduction. Agra is home to this spectacular monument, which usually the first stop on the tourist trail. Best experienced as the sun rises or sets, the Taj reflects rays of light off its marble surfaces, glowing in a glorious pink; just ensure you have time to explore the area in depth and people watch at one of the most famous monuments in the world! Emperor Shah Jahan took seventeen years to build the Taj Mahal, dedicating it to his adored wife Mumtaz Mahal. What a profound love it must have been!
Once you’ve admired all its beauty, Agra has plenty of other interesting sights to offer: the striking Itmad-ud-Daulah tomb inspired both the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort. Fatehpur Sikri is just an hour away, an abandoned city with well-preserved ancient buildings and an elegant shrine. We suggest making sure you really do want to see the Taj Mahal, though, as it can take a decent amount of time out of your India holiday. Ask your ETG consultant to ensure you’re making the most of your time, rather than doing what everyone else does!
The rarely visited Chambal Valley is just an hour away from Agra, where the landscape will take your breath away, dotted with crumbling ruins and fortresses. Visit the Chambal Sanctuary for a pristine wildlife experience as you spot mammals, birds, and reptiles in all shapes and sizes. Look out for the Gangetic River Dolphin and the marsh crocodile in particular! The ancient Bateshwar temple complex is home to over one hundred temples, all of which are lovingly dedicated to Shiva, a Hindu God. In the surrounding ravines, you may spot a Naga sadhu (a snake-worshipping ascetic); they occupy the mud wall caves and temples. Chambal really is one of the best insights you can get into rural India without travelling too far and while staying in beautiful surroundings.