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What we love

Delhi & Agra

India

The destination

Delhi grabs your attention as soon as you arrive - the city pulses with energy and colour, welcoming guests to a metropolis like no other. It is the starting point for many visitors to India with plenty of splendid hotels on offer from established colonial favourites, which are steeped in history, to stylish modern towers.

Home to 16 million people, making it the third largest city in India, the strategic location of Delhi made it an attractive location for invading armies, and it served as the capital for many great empires that ruled India. Many of these built significant monuments, and whilst the Mughal and the British are the most visible, as you explore the city you will see ruins from various previous empires, the earliest dating back to the 12th century.

The city is distinctly divided in two - Old Delhi dates from the 17th century and is a noisy labyrinth of narrow lanes which merge homes and temples with colourful stalls and rickshaws. New Delhi is more polished, with wide boulevards built by the British at the height of their Imperial rule.

Two of the key sites to visit in Old Delhi were built in the 17th century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan – the UNESCO heritage Red Fort which was a military base, and also India’s largest mosque, Jama Masjid with tapering minarets and wonderful marble domes.

In New Delhi, along with numerous museums, temples and mausoleums, Humanyun’s Tomb is not to be missed. It was built in the 16th century and is architecturally considered the forerunner of the Taj Mahal. Commissioned by the widow of Humayun, the second Mughal emperor, it was subsequently used as a burial place for members of the royal family. 

In addition, the government buildings district includes the magnificent Parliament Building, built in a circular shape supported by 144 pillars. The Rashtrapati Bhawan (the official residence of the President of India) is spread over 330 acres and was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Also, it is worth driving past the India Gate - an arch which is a war memorial and honours the 90,000 soldiers of the British-Indian army, who lost their lives fighting for the British during WW1.

Agra is around three and a half hours by car from Delhi. This was the seat of the mighty Mughal Empire before it shifted its capital to Delhi, and is home to some of their most inspired architecture such as the Taj Mahal.  In the 16th and 17th century, the Mughal Courts were at their most powerful, and were great patrons of the arts, meaning that Agra attracted artisans, poets and musicians from across India as well as Persia and Central Asia, thus transforming the city into a cultural and architectural hub. 

The Taj Mahal is at its best at sunrise and sunset - just when the light, playing on the marble of the tomb and the reflections in the stillness of the waters, presents this incredible building in all its beauty, majesty and splendour. It is a monument of love built by Shah Jehan in 1630 for his Queen, Mumtaz Mahal to enshrine her mortal remains. For 22 years 20,000 men laboured day and night to build this masterpiece, which has held the world awe struck ever since.

Whilst in Agra make time to visit the Agra Fort - when the Mughal Emperor Akbar established his supremacy in Northern India, he began his first architectural venture, rebuilding the fort as a beautiful palace.  The work was completed by his son and grandson, highlighting the Mughal’s ability to blend defensive and decorative architecture. Richly decorated with marble and mosaic, it was in a part of this fort that Shah Jahan spent the last years of his life, imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb. His private quarters where he was confined, have a magical view of the Taj Mahal across the river Yamuna.

PASSPORTS & VISAS

You can apply for an e-visa online from 120 days before travel. Passports need to have at least six months validity from the date of arrival in India and also at least 2 blank pages when you present it at immigration. 

Location

Top tips

  • Visit the Oberoi hotel for a drink in the only rooftop bar in the city.
  • For amazing insight into charity work visit the Sikh community kitchen at Gurudwara Shri Bangla Sahib where 10,000 meals are cooked and freely given out each day.
  • Make sure you are in Agra for either sunset or sunrise – or ideally both for different perspectives on the monument.

 

  • Local currency: Indian Rupee
  • Accepted credit cards: Visa and MasterCard, American Express (Large establishments, hotels, restaurants, shops)
  • Timezone: GMT +5.5 hrs

Hotels in Delhi & Agra

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