Beyond Taj Mahal: Explore Hidden Gems of Agra With These 5 Lesser-Known Monuments

unexplored agra

When we talk about Agra, the Taj Mahal is the first thing that pops up in our mind. But the city is also a hub of many small and unexplored monuments with rich and intriguing histories.

When we talk about Agra, the Taj Mahal is the first thing that pops up in our mind. But did you know that Agra is home to 264 ASI-declared monuments? 

From a tomb dedicated by a daughter to her father, to a garden built at the whim of a Mughal emperor, Agra is a hub of many small and unexplored monuments with rich and intriguing histories. 

Here is a list of those places to visit on your next trip. 

Hessings Tomb

Red Taj was built by a grieving widow for her husband who died fighting the British in 1803. Picture credit: Tina Freese

How many Taj Mahals do you think this quaint little town has? If your answer is “one”, think again. 

Agra has two other Taj Mahals that are replicas of the sentiment and architecture behind the original.

Hessings Tomb or the “Red Taj Mahal” was built by a grieving widow, Anne Hessings, for her husband John — a Dutch soldier who died serving in the Maratha Army in Agra in 1803. John Hessings was a Dutch traveller who visited India and ended up in the Maratha Army and died defending the city from the British. 

This perfectly kept secret is located in quite literally the heart of the city inside the Catholic cemetery. It is a beautiful replica of the original, built using red stones. You can see Hessings’ tomb inside the structure. 

Location: 125, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kripal Colony, Sanjay Nagar, Civil Lines

The place is free for anyone to visit. 

Chini ka Rauza

chini ka rauza
Chini Ka Rauzaa is the resting place of Afzal Khan Aalmi, Shah Jahan’s prime minister. Picture credit: Tina Freese

Another such secret of this town is Chini ka Rauza. Sitting on the western side of River Yamuna, Chini ka Rauza was once the epitome of Indo-Persian architecture. It is the resting place of Afzal Khan Aalmi, a Persian poet in Jahangir’s court, who later became Shah Jahan’s prime minister.

Built in 1635, it is an exotic mix of Indian and Persian architecture with a huge dome at its crown. It is also marked with colourful designs on the outside and a huge garden around the monument. 

This lost and forgotten monument might be a little hard to locate on the map, but one can take help of locals nearby where it still lies anew. 

Location: Katra Wazir Khan, Ram Bhag

Anyone can visit this monument free of cost.

Mariam’s Tomb

Mariam's tomb
Mariam’s Tomb, the resting place of Jodha Bai is a mixture of Hindu and Mughal architecture styles. Picture credit: Tina Freese

We all know the iconic love story of Mughal emperor Akbar and his Rajput wife Jodha Bai. As epic as their romance is the resting place of Mariam-uz-Zamani. 

Known as Mariam’s Tomb, the place is so calm and quiet that one can hear the chirping of birds and the rustling of leaves on a sunny winter morning. The architectural design of the tomb is a mix of Hindu and Mughal styles, representative of their love for each other.

An interesting fact about the place is that the tomb looks exactly alike on both sides, the entry and exit. It sits on a raised platform with a running Mughal garden on all four sides. 

Location: 6W8V+43Q, Mathura Road, near Pathwari Mandir, Kailash Mode, Sikandra.

The place is open to visitors till 6 pm for a ticket. 

Itmad-ud-Daulah

Also known as “Baby Taj” Itmad-ud-Daulah was built by Nur Jahan in the memory of her father Gias-ud-din-Beg. Picture credit: Tina Freese

We hear about people going to lengths for their lovers, but here is a monument that is the testimony of a daughter’s love for her father. The building is inspired by Taj Mahal and is also known as the “Baby Taj”. 

Itmad-ud-Daulah was built by Nur Jahan, wife of Jahangir, in memory of her father Ghias-ud-Din Beg. He was given the title ‘Itimad-ud-Daulah’, which means ‘pillar of the government’, by Akbar. 

The architecture of the building is remarkable with its beautiful carvings and paintings on the entire structure and gardens surrounding it. While typical tourism buses might not cover this gem, a short auto-rickshaw ride will take you to the destination. 

Location: Moti Bagh, Agra

You can visit the place till 6 pm for a ticket.

Ram Bagh

Aram Bagh was later renamed as Ram Bagh when the Marathas captured the city. Picture credit: Tina Freese

When Babur came back to Agra after defeating Ibrahim Lodhi in the Battle of Panipat around 500 years ago, he apparently found the heat unbearable. Beaten by the city’s heat, what did he do? He ordered the construction of a bagh (a garden). This is how Aram Bagh came into existence, which was renamed Ram Bagh when Marathas captured the city later on.

It is also believed that his remains were kept in the garden for some time before they were taken to Kabul. 

The layout of the garden is not the typical Char Bagh pattern but is rather of the Bagh-Hasht-Behisht pattern. In the garden, there are three levels — one for flowers and vegetables, the second for flower beds, and the third one has structures, terraces and tanks.

Location: Ramnagar Colony, Civil Lines

You can spend hours admiring the beautiful garden at a ticket price of Rs 15. 

Sources: 
A Red Taj in memory of a beloved husband by Priyanka Shrivastava
Chini Ka Rauza by GPSMYCITY 
Tomb of Mariam Zamani Agra by tour my city
Itmad ud Daulah’s tomb by tourism of India
Ram Bhag by Asia circle
Monuments of Agra circle by ASI

Edited by Divya Sethu

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