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Best Places To Visit Near Agra - Weekend Getaways
Agra is home to Taj Mahal. Some would say, what else would the locals want? Just open your window and there is the monument of love! But of course, you can’t spend every weekend going to the Taj. Especially in the summer and monsoon seasons. So for those of you who have plans to escape the city of Agra for some fun, here’s a list of best places to visit nearby. They include the usual suspects like the Golden Triangle of Delhi and Jaipur of course, but there are also many unheard places that you can pick for a nice weekend getaway from Agra.
The capital of Akbar’s empire, Fatehpur Sikri is located around 36 km from Agra and is naturally an extension of its tourist map. For locals, if you haven’t been here, then this little fort town should be first on your weekend list. It is a World Heritage Site and a beautiful amalgamation of Hindu and Islamic architecture styles. Built in red sandstone, the entire fort is as big as a town. Some of the most prominent parts of this complex to visit are Buland Darwaza, Diwan-I-Khas, Diwan-I-Aam, Jama Masjid and Jodha Bai’s Palace. Late winter months (January onwards) are great for a two-day visit.
India’s capital and one of the oldest political cities of the country, Delhi is crazy fun for those living the slow life of Agra. The city is home to some of the best street food in Chandni chowk, some great historical sightseeing that includes places like Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Humayun ka Makhbara, India Gate etc. Your weekend nights can be spent partying it up at the Hauz Khas Village with its chic cafes, lounges and pubs. Connaught Place is also great for bar-hopping. Shop at Lajpat Nagar and Sarojini Nagar. Delhi is 233 km from Agra.
57 km from Agra, Mathura is the holy land of Lord Krishna’s birth. Home to the prison where his parents where imprisoned and he was born, Mathura is famous for temples and ghats of river Yamuna along with some great festival celebrations. Holi and Janmashtami here are the most coveted times for a visit. Some great places to visit in Mathura are Vishram Ghat, Bangali Ghat, Dwarkadhish Temple, Banke Bihari Temple and Krishna Janmabhoomi. See the divine Yamuna aarti on Vishram ghat early at dawn and late at dusk.
Bharatpur is located 55 km from Agra and a divine paradise of nature. It is home to the Keoladeo National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest breeding place for birds. With 370+ species of birds, the park is perfect for a winter weekend away from Agra. There is also some sightseeing in the form of Ganga Maharani temple and the Lohagarh Fort. You should keep half a day to tour the massive Lohagarh Fort and the rest for a quiet picnic by the water.
The land where Lord Krishna did his lilas with the gopis of Vraj, Vrindavan is today a beacon of Krishna bhakti with temples and forests that still smell of his essence in many ways. Located 75 km from Agra, Vrindavan is coveted by those who want to take a serene religious retreat and visit temples like Prem Mandir, Banke Bihari temple, Nidhivan (where shrubs and trees are said to turn into gopis every night and dance the raas) and the grand ISCKON temple. October onwards is the best time to visit Vrindavan until the onset of summer in March-April. Holi and Janmashtami festivals of Banke Bihari temple are famous, as is the Lath-maar holi in the tight streets nearby.
The city of nawabs and shayaris, Lucknow is also popularly referred to as the ‘Tehzeeb’ ka sheher. Foodies from all over the country flock here for Mughlai feasts like kebabs, biryanis, paranthas and more. Here life is simple— good food, soulful music and walks in Hazratganj. As tourists you would also enjoy visits to Bara Imambara, Rumi Darwaza, The Residency, Ambedkar Memorial Park and Chota Imambara among others. Lucknow is around 334 km from Agra and perfect for a long weekend.
The third stop on India’s grand Golden Triangle tour— Jaipur. The pink city of palaces. 240 km from Agra, this Rajasthani city is a paradise of architecture, shopping, colours and food. The culture of Jaipur is something you can only experience. From its vivid bazars selling mojris and leheriyas and precious gemstones to the literary and musical events that it is known to host, Jaipur is at its finest in winter. Visit the Hawa Mahal, Amber Palace, City Palace, Jal Mahal and Jantar Mantar over a long weekend. Gorge on royal Rajasthani thalis and scrumptious sweets like ghevar and churma.
One of the most majestic cities of Madhya Pradesh, steeped in history and culture that goes back centuries, Gwalior is a great weekend getaway from Agra. It is only 119 km away and hence is reached in less than 3 hours from Agra. Among the many places to visit here, you must not miss the following at any cost: the city of Padmavati Pawaya, Kala Vithika Museum, Scindia Museum and Jai Vilas Palace. The best among all though, is the humongous Gwalior Fort, which was once the stronghold of freedom fighters like Tatiya Tope and Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi.
Sariska Tiger Reserve
214 km away from Agra, Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan is perfect for a wildlife safari. Its diverse grasslands with cliffs and rugged forests are home to animals like Bengal tiger, striped hyena, leopard, golden jackal, chital, jungle cat, caracal, sambar deer, wild boar and Rhesus macaque. Apart from the usual safari trips inside the reserve, you can also go sightseeing to Kankwari fort, Naldeshwar Shrine and Neelkanth Temple. September onwards the season is favourable for a visit to Sariska, right upto April.