Agra, India - Stein Travel
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Agra

The last Lodi Sultan moved his capital to Agra in 1504, and although he was defeated in 1526 by Babur, the founder of the Mogul empire, it remained India's premier city for almost two centuries. The city's greatest days were during the reign of Babur's grandson, Akbar the Great (1556-1605) who built Agra Fort, and although Shah Jahan created a new capital in Delhi, his heart remained in Agra. In 1631 he chose Agra as the spot to construct what is undisputedly the world's greatest monument to love - the Taj Mahal.

For many, Agra represents the best and worst of India. The city is a daunting sensory experience for even the most hardened traveller: the streets are foul, the air polluted and, particularly in the alleyways around the Taj Mahal, you will come across the most persistent touts and rip-off merchants in the East. Despite all this, however, Agra's magnificent sights make the adventure more than worthwhile.

Agra, along with Delhi and Jaipur, forms the 'Golden Triangle' - India's most popular tourist route. Situated just 125 miles (200km) south of Delhi, it makes an easy day-trip by train. However, it is worth spending at least a night here just to truly appreciate the wondrous Taj Mahal and its many moods: to stand in awe and watch it change from rose-pink in the morning, to brilliant-white at noon, to eggshell-blue at dusk.

Information & Facts

Climate

Agra is located on the Ganga plain and has a continental climate, with very hot summer weather and cool winters. In summer (April to September) temperatures can reach as high as 119°F (48°C), and hot, dry winds prevail. The annual monsoon season is between July and September. Winter temperatures (November to February) are comfortable, at about 57°F (14°C) during the day, but may fall below freezing at night. Agra experiences dense fog during the winter months of December and January. The most pleasant time to visit Agra is between October and March.

Language

Although English is generally used for official and business purposes, Hindi is the official language and is spoken by about 40 percent of the population. Urdu is the language common with the Muslim demographic. India has a total of 22 official languages

Money

The currency is the Indian Rupee (INR), which is divided into 100 paise (singular paisa). Major currencies can be changed at banks, and authorised bureaux de changes. It is impossible to obtain rupees outside India, but no matter what time you arrive in India there will be an exchange office open at the airport. It is illegal to exchange money through the black market and it is advisable to refuse torn notes, as no one will accept them apart from the National Bank. It is best to change money into small denominations. Travellers cheques and major credit cards are widely accepted, particularly in tourist orientated establishments. ATMs are not generally available.

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