Showcasing India’s intricate tradition of craftsmanship, and frequented by pilgrims from all around the country, there are plenty of places to visit in Agra that are a testament to the city’s rich heritage. A bustling city with a mix of people belonging to different cultures and religions, Agra is home to some of the most stunning religious structures in the country. From the much revered Jama Masjid to the relatively lesser-known Bageshwarnath Temple, here are some of the city’s most religious spots that you must include in your itinerary.
Constructed with pure white marble, Moti Masjid takes its name from the fact that it appears to be made of pearls. Built between 1648 and 1654 by Emperor Shah Jahan for royal members of the court, its construction is a testament to the rich craftsmanship of the Mughal era. The mosque consists of 12 arches, an intricately designed and decorated prayer chamber, seven bays and three bulbous domes at the helm.
Guru Ka Taal
This Gurudwara is one of the most revered places in the city for the Sikh community. Known for its beautiful architecture, Guru Ka Taal has been built at the spot where Guru Teg Bahadur (the 9th guru of the Sikhs) laid down arms to the Mughal king Aurangzeb. The Gurudwara has historically held great importance for the Sikhs, and hundreds of devotees visit every year to pay homage to the Guru Teg Bahadur
Soami Bagh Samadh
Likened to the Taj Mahal for its beautiful and intricate lattice and stone-work, Soami Bagh Samadh lies on the outskirts of the city in Dayalbagh.This relatively young structure was built in 1908 as a mausoleum for Huzur Swami Maharaj, and the Radhaswami faith was established here as well. However, the construction alone warrants a visit—the marble has been cut in the most unique way, and the intricate design showcases great skill. Satsang is held at the Bhajan Gar in the lower portion of the Samadh once every day, and is the best time to visit.
Located in close proximity to St. John’s College and the Sales Tax Office in one of Agra’s poshest areas, Bageshwarnath Temple is a relatively less known religious site in the city, but comes alive during Shivratri when it is illuminated with bright lights and attracts long winding queues of devotees lining up to pay their respects. Needless to say Lord Shiva is the primary deity worshipped here.
Commonly referred to as Friday Mosque, Jama Masjid is located just opposite the Agra Fort, overlooking the railway station. Built by Shah Jahan for his daughter Jahanara Begum back in 1648, it took 5000 workers a period f 6 years to complete this red sandstone and marble structure. Surrounded by a courtyard with five arched entrances, the mosque stands on a raised plinth approachable by a flight of stairs, and is crowned by three mammoth sandstone domes. Decorated with inlaid geometric designs, inscriptions and beautiful coloured tiles, the main entrance is on the eastern side, and the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti (a celebrated Sufi saint) also lies within the complex.
Agra abounds in numerous religious places. The special feature of the holy places in Agra is that these are established to cater to every religion and sect. For Muslim community it has mosques, for Sikhs it features gurudwaras, for Hindus it boasts of some of the most revered temples. In some or the other way the religious places in Agra enjoy historical significance. But at the same time there are some which can supposedly be found without such association. One of these kinds of temples is Mangleshwar Temple in Agra.
HOW TO REACH
The city has a military airbase, which doesn’t connect it with any place in India. The closest domestic and international airport to Agra is at Delhi, the Indira Gandhi International Airport, which is well-linked with all prime Indian and foreign destinations. Travellers can hire a cab, book a taxi or take bus to rach Agra from here.
Agra is well connected by state and roadways buses to several cities and towns like Delhi,Gwalior, Kanpur, Lucknow and Jaipur. There are basically two prime bus terminals in Agra, namely Idgah Bus Stand and ISBT and buses here are available for all major destinations. Those driving from Delhi to Agra can take NH 2 route while those travelling from Jaipur can take NH 11 road. The recently constructed Delhi-Agra Taj Expressway has reduced travel time to the city substantially, making the drive itself highly pleasureable.
As Agra is located in the middle of main the following train lines: Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Chennai, it is quite easy to reach here by train from anywhere. Cities such as Delhi, Jaipur, Gwalior, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai are well-connected to Agra with regular trains. From Delhi, trains like Bhopal Express, Punjab Mail, Malwa Express and UP Sampark Kranti operate on a daily basis. After getting down at the railway station, tourists can hire a prepaid taxi, take an auto-rickshaw or cycle rickshaw to reach their destination.