The city of Agra makes up one-third of India's 'golden triangle', along with Delhi and Jaipur, three of northern India's most popular destinations for tourists.
Agra’s heart-stopping centrepiece needs little introduction. Rising from the brown-ochre river banks on the southeast fringes of the city like a vision of heaven, the Taj Mahal is the world’s most ethereal building, the ultimate monument to romantic love. Having admired the white-marble masterpiece in different lights, venture further north to see the tomb as it would have looked to its creator, the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, wiling away his last years incarcerated by his son, Aurangzeb, in the gilded apartments of Agra Fort.
A welcome respite from the city’s frenzied streets is traffic-free Fatehpur Sikri, an hour’s drive southwest, where Akbar erected a new capital from finely carved sandstone in the late-16th century. A series of interlocking courtyards, overlooked by onion-domed royal apartments and pillared walkways, forms the heart of this long deserted palace complex, which the Mughals abandoned because of water shortages after only sixteen years.