The splendour of Agra – India’s capital under the Mughals – remains undiminished, from the massive fort to the magnificent Taj Mahal. Along with Delhi, 204km northwest, and Jaipur in Rajasthan, Agra is the third apex of the “Golden Triangle”, India’s most popular tourist itinerary. Although it’s possible to see Agra on a day-trip from Delhi, the Taj alone deserves so much more – a fleeting visit would miss the subtleties of its many moods, as the light changes from sunrise to sunset – while the city’s other sights and Fatehpur Sikri can easily fill several days.
Most of the city’s major Mughal monuments, including the Taj Mahal, are lined up along the banks of the Yamuna River, which bounds the city’s eastern edge. They date from the later phase of Mughal rule and the reigns of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan – exemplifying the ever-increasing extravagance which, by Shah Jahan’s time, had already begun to strain the imperial coffers and sow the seeds of political and military decline.