AGRA FORT AND THE CITY OF AGRA – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR VISIT
HOW TO SEE AGRA FORT, AGRA PLACES TO EAT AND OTHER THINGS TO DO IN AGRA
THIS IS PART TWO OF A TWO-PART AGRA POST.
THIS POST IS ALL ABOUT AGRA FORT, AGRA THINGS TO DO AND AGRA PLACES TO EAT.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE TAJ MAHAL, CLICK HERE TO VIEW PART ONE.
Best known for the incredible Taj Mahal – one of the New Seven Wonders of the World – the huge Indian city of Agra is most often visited as a part of the Golden Triangle.
Whilst the Taj Mahal is certainly India’s most famous building, Agra is also visited for another incredible sight: Agra Fort. These two attractions are certainly the most famous of Agra, and the reason that so many thousands of tourists end up in Agra every day.
So, Agra Fort…
WHERE IS IT? – JUST 3KM FROM THE TAJ MAHAL, AGRA
WHAT IS IT? – A HISTORICAL FORT. IT WAS THE MAIN RESIDENCE OF THE EMPERORS OF THE MUGHAL DYNASTY, UNTIL 1638.
WHEN IS IT OPEN? – SUNRISE TO SUNSET
WHAT DOES IT COST? – 650 RUPEES EACH (FOR A FOREIGN TOURIST – AS OF 2020)
DRESS CODE – CONSERVATIVE: COVER KNEES, SHOULDERS AND CHEST.
BEST TIME OF DAY – SUNRISE OR SUNSET
BEST TIME OF YEAR – NOVEMBER – MARCH
BEST TIME OF YEAR AND WEATHER
In our previous post about the Taj Mahal, I covered the best time of year to visit (and the weather) extensively. The same is true for Agra Fort, as it is mostly true for Agra in general.
In essence, the best time of year to visit is between November and March. Outside of these months, the weather can be unbearable hot for many foreign tourists. June – September are monsoon season, and it is very rainy and humid during these months.
Early morning fog and mist can be a problem between December and early February, so sunrise doesn’t really look as nice as it otherwise would during these months (unless you’re lucky enough to get a clear morning). However, the crowds are much, much less in the hours after sunrise (and many of the sights are very close, so the fog shouldn’t hinder your ability to see it all), so this is a good time to visit Agra Fort.
For more information on the time of year and weather of Agra, see part one of our Agra post here.
GETTING TO AGRA FORT
Getting to Agra Fort, the best option is Uber. You can take a tuktuk, which from the main backpacker/ hotel area will cost around 80 rupees (depending on your haggling skills), but we found that the tuktuk drivers here were very persistent with their high prices. For ease, just get an Uber.
For more information on getting around Agra (and why we think Uber/Ola is a better option) see below!
See our HOW TO GET AROUND tips below!
WHAT WILL AGRA FORT COST?
When researching online, I stumbled across the official website for Agra Fort, that says that a foreign tourist ticket is 550 rupees. However, when we arrived at the Fort, the board above the ticket counter displayed that we had to pay 650 rupees.
So, it seems the official price has changed recently to 650 rupees for a foreign tourist (it is 600 rupees on a Friday, as you don’t have to pay the 50 rupee fee to ‘Agra Tourism’?).
The price for an Indian tourist is still at 40 rupees (that’s over 16 TIMES LOWER than a foreign tourist ticket).
WHEN IS AGRA FORT OPEN / WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO?
Agra Fort is open between sunrise and sunset. Check Google for the latest sunrise and sunset times in Agra for the most accurate times.
I would recommend arriving early. You don’t necessarily need to arrive at sunrise, but the earlier the better. Early morning, there is much less people visiting, and the crowds haven’t arrived yet. If you want to enjoy the Fort in relative solitude, and take awesome pictures with no one in the background, I would recommend arriving early.
Sunset is also a good time to visit, as the sun makes the red rocks stand out even more, lighting them up an even brighter shade of red. However, crowds will be much greater at this time, and last entry into Agra Fort will be just before sunset (so arrive earlier).
THE SECURITY CHECK
Like the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort also has an airport style security check, with a bag check and a full body scanner. However, like most places in India, there is a very relaxed feel about security here, and we were ushered through without even passing through the body scanner (or having our bags checked).
There is a list of prohibited items, much the same as the one for the Taj Mahal (no food, tobacco products, knives, electronic goods other than cameras and mobile phones), but whether or not that’s strictly enforced, I can’t comment on.
You are encouraged not to bring a large backpack though, as this will slow down the whole security process. Bring only what you need, just in case.
AGRA FORT DRESS CODE
The dress code here is the same as the dress code for the Taj Mahal (see our very detailed post about the Taj Mahal here). Generally, in India, the dress code is: conservative. This simply means covering up where possible, and not showing too much flesh. You’re not expected to wear a full length shirt, and a headscarf, but you will be expected to cover up your knees, shoulders and chest (both men and women).
You won’t be outwardly told off for not following these rules, but out of a respect for the local culture, it’s expected that you follow them. You will receive more than your fair share of disapproving stares and looks if you don’t.
NOTE: We did see a few locals wearing VERY skimpy outfits whilst we were at Agra Fort (and elsewhere in Agra and India in general), so it’s not just tourists that try and get away with revealing outfits.
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN AGRA
SUNSET BOAT RIDE – The best way to see the Taj Mahal on a Friday! From the East Gate of the Taj Mahal, take the road east, towards the river. Once you reach the river, there will be a few boatmen with small, wooden boats on the river banks. For a price (make sure you haggle as best as you can), these guys can take you on the river for around 20/25 minutes. The best times to go are at sunset or sunrise, when the Taj Mahal is lit up with the setting/rising sun. Expect to pay anything from 200 rupees per person, to 400 rupees each.
SHEROES HANGOUT – This small café does more than just serve up good coffee and tasty food. All of the women that work here, are victims of terrible acid attacks. The cafe was started as a way to build confidence and skills for each survivor. Spending your hard earned money here is not only a way to support the women of the attacks, but to also learn about their stories and struggles. A great place to spend a few hours of the afternoon, and enjoy a coffee.
AGRA PLACES TO EAT
GOOD VIBES CAFE – We loved this little café so much that we ate breakfast here 5 out of 6 mornings (yes, we were Agra for much too long). My personal favourite breakfast dish was the Aloo Paratha (delicious, but spicy!), and Danielle favoured the many different varieties of omelette on the menu. The staff here are wonderful and SUPER friendly, and the menu is pretty vast. Our top tip: get the black coffee. It will only set you back 40 rupees, and it’s absolutely delightful.
BAMBOO CAFE – We came here for breakfast on the last day of our Agra visit, and it was very good! The guy that served us was delightful, and the food came out very fresh and quick! All round, a lovely experience. Prices are very cheap, and the menu serves up traditional fare: eggs for breakfast, curries, breads etc..
PINCH OF SPCE – This was, by far, the fanciest place we ate dinner in Agra. Although not the fanciest place in town (perhaps, The Oberoi?), the service and the food in this place was delightful. We ordered a few dishes, with rice and bread, and it was all very tasty. We usually find that in the fancier places (the sort of restaurant where a man opens the door for you, and your server pulls out your chair), the food is usually never as good. But, here it was actually delicious! We would definitely recommend! Prices were around 350 – 400 rupees for a curry, and 250 rupees for steamed rice (fun fact: that’s the most we have paid for steamed rice in all of India). Not the cheapest place at all, but we found that everywhere in Agra was pricier than other Indian cities (maybe it’s because of the sheer number of tourists?). NOTE: You can also get beer here!
MCDONALDS – This one sounds like a bit of a cop out, but we actually ended up eating our dinner here three times. Having not tried Indian McDonalds yet, I feel like our taste buds were amazed at how different it is to Western McDonalds. A strange hybrid between western food and Indian flavours, I’d recommend giving it a try at least once on your Indian journey (if not here in Agra, then perhaps somewhere else). My personal favourite was the Veg Maharaja Mac: a strange take on a Big Mac, with spicy potato, cheese and corn patties instead of the regular beef ones. Delicious!
HOW TO GET AROUND AGRA
The price of a tuktuk around Agra will vary greatly depending on your haggling skills. To be honest, haggling for a good tuktuk price is a pain in the ass, and literally gives the two of us a headache. Sometimes, it’s way more effort than it’s worth, and we often leave wondering if we should be arguing over 20 pence.
The sad reality is that, if you allow the tuktuk drivers to rip you off and charge 5 times more than they should, it just fuels the cycle of them continuing to do it to every other tourist (eventually increasing prices further and further, just because they believe we all have copious amounts of money). Obviously, (and unfortunately) they will never charge us local prices. That’s not going to happen anymore. But, the number that they pluck out of thin air is sometimes so ridiculously high that we literally can’t help but laugh out loud.
Because of all this, our preferred method of getting about in any Indian city (Agra included), is Uber. There is no chance of being scammed, you pay the price that it gives you, you travel inside an actual car (with doors and windows) and you get to exactly where you’re going without being taken to a “wonderful jewellery shop” on the way. It’s perfect.
UBER / OLA
So, our advice would be to just use Uber. There are other variations of similar services in India, such as Ola. Either are good, but do depend on having a solid internet connection (if you have a sim card with data on it, then you can book an Uber any time, any place).
If you do have to use a tuktuk, ask at your hotel or guesthouse for the up-to-date prices, and what you should be paying. Try not to give greedy tuktuk drivers more than you have to. Generally, the rule is to pay about half of what they initially conjure up (depending on how ridiculous the initial price is – obviously).
A few people that we spoke to said that they hired a tuktuk driver for the entire day, for anywhere in the region of 700 – 1000 rupees. This isn’t a good idea, as small individual trips will cost only a small amount anyway (up to 80 rupees to Agra Fort), and they will DEFINITELY take you to 5 or 6 “great shops” (jewellery shops, marble shops, sari shops…) during the day (eating into your precious time) whether you want them to or not.
NOTE: ALWAYS agree on a price before getting into the tuktuk. The drivers have a habit of trying to usher you into the back of their rickshaw before agreeing a price. Don’t fall for this as this could cause big trouble when you arrive at your destination. Make sure you’re happy with the price before getting in.
GETTING HERE AND AWAY
BUS = 500 – 800 RUPEES, 5 HOURS / PRIVATE CAR = 2500 – 4000 RUPEES, 4 HOURS / TRAIN = 750 RUPEES, 3 HOURS
BUS = 800 RUPEES, 12 HOURS / TRAIN = 1500 – 2500 RUPEES, 10 HOURS
BUS = 250 RUPEES, 5 HOURS / TRAIN = 450 RUPEES, 4/5 HOURS
WHERE TO VISIT NEXT
DELHI – STREET FOOD TOURS AND THE MAIN HUB FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL
VARANASI – SPIRITUAL CAPITAL OF INDIA, AND HOME TO SOME GREAT FOOD
JAIPUR – THE PINK CITY AND THE GATEWAY TO RAJASTHAN
OUR PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR
LAPTOP – Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch
SMALL CAMERA – Olympus OMD- E-M10 Mark II
ZOOM LENS – Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm Lens
DSLR BODY – Canon 60D
WIDE ANGLE LENS – Sigma 10-20mm Lens
DRONE – DJI Mavic Pro
ACTION CAMERA – GoPro Hero 7 Black Edition
MICROPHONE – Rode VideoMicro
CAMERA BAG – Lowepro Fastpack 250 AW II
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Agra, and in particular, the Taj Mahal. If you are headed to India, this famous mausoleum HAS to be on your list of things to see. It really is worth visiting Agra, even if just to see the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.
If you’re headed anywhere else in India after Agra, check out our guide to Indian sleeper buses here. For more information on how to get up to one year on an Indian e-visa (for just $40), see our post detailing how!
I hope this has helped with planning your visit to Agra.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
If you are headed to Agra, view our PART ONE post on the Taj Mahal, and find out all about visiting this famous mausoleum.
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