Bear at Agra Bear Rescue Facility , Agra, India - Courtesy

Agra Bear Rescue Facility

Back in the 1990s as you entered Agra from Delhi, you would pass dancing bears on the highway. Their keepers kept them chained and forced them to dance so they could raise money from tourists who took their photos. But in 1999, Wildlife SOS and the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department founded the Agra Bear Rescue Facility. Since then they have rescued more than 250 bears and found alternate jobs for their former trainers. The facility is about a 40-minute drive from Agra and visitors can take a special guided tour to learn about the bears. Note: The facility is within the Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary and requires a park entrance fee. Visits by appointment only, contact Indagare's Bookings Team to arrange.

Fort at Agra Fort , Agra, India - Courtesy Sanyam Bagha

Agra Fort

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered one of the most spectacular Mughal forts in India. The red sandstone and marble fort located across town from the Taj Mahal covers 94 acres and was built in the 16th and 17th centuries. It first served as an army stronghold, then a palace and finally as a prison for Shah Jahan when his son overthrew him (shortly after he finished the Taj Mahal). It is known for its influential architectural styles, despite parts of it being demolished by the British during their occupation. Enter through the Amar Singh Gate, and don’t miss the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal.

Fort at Fatehpur Sikri , Agra, India - Courtesy Sanyam Bahga

Fatehpur Sikri

Located 40 kilometers west of Agra, the ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri is considered by many to be the most beautiful ancient structure in India. The UNESCO World Heritage Site served as the pleasure palace of Emperor Akbar from 1571 to 1585. The structure was constructed after a Sufi holy man there prophesied that the emperor would have three sons and his three wives subsequently became pregnant with boys. Akbar moved his wives to Fatehpur Sikri and embarked on a major building program, turning what is believed to have been a small Hindu city into a Mughal capital. At its height, Fatehpur Sikri was purportedly larger than London at the same time. The city’s exquisite red-sandstones palaces, stables, pavilions, courtyards and mosques—including Jama Masjid, one of India’s biggest mosques—were abandoned after Akbar’s death, but their intricate carvings remain. One could easily spend a day exploring the vast grounds and various buildings, but set aside at least a few hours with an historic guide.

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Exterior View-Itmad-ud-Daulah ,Agra, India-Courtesy Muhammad Mahdi Karim


A jewel of Mughal architecture that predates the Taj Mahal, Itmad-ud-Daulah is a small monument on the banks of the Yamuna river that was built by the stepmother of Shah Jahan. For those who are spending two nights in Agra, Indagare can arrange for a guided visit before sunset one evening as well as a trip to the Moon Garden that faces the Taj. Contact the Bookings Team for details.

People at Mughal Heritage Trail , Agra, India

Mughal Heritage Trail

Take a kilometer walk along the banks of the Yamuna river and through Kachpura village. Guides can discuss community projects in Agra and lead you to a wonderful view of the Taj Mahal. Indagare members can contact the Bookings Team to arrange.

Tajmahal at Taj Mahal , Agra, India - Courtesy Muhammad Mahdi Karim

Taj Mahal

The most famous monument to love and, according to some, the most stunning building in the world, the Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by Moghul emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Muhal. The towering palace is a symbol of Indian ingenuity and appreciation of beauty and love. Rudyard Kipling called it “the embodiment of all things pure,” so harmonious is its architecture and purpose, and Shah Jahan is said to have declared that its creation made “the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.”

The Taj Mahal is such a perfectly proportioned marble palace that one of our preferred guides likes to say it is one of the few world famous sights that cannot disappoint, for it is exactly as you expect it to be. But while it is as beautiful in its layout and intricate delicacy as you expect, the crowds who converge each day do make it hard to enjoy it in a peaceful way. We recommend going first thing in the morning to enjoy the building at sunrise (the grounds open at 6 a.m.) and to avoid crowds and midday heat.

Indagare Tip: Tickets must be bought in advance of a visit and on Fridays the grounds are closed to those not attending prayers at the mosque.

Two great books to read before a visit are Beneath a Marble Sky, a fictional account of life during the building of the Taj, and In the Shadow of the Taj, a fascinating exploration of modern Agra and the complexities its famous monument faces today.

Guests of Amarvilas can be escorted to the East Gate by hotel golf cart.

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