The perfect seasons to visit Agra are autumn and winter (October–March), as the boiling heat has settled down, making the weather enjoyable for sightseeing. It is also an ideal time for tourists to ideally appreciate a view of the Taj Mahal from one of the many grand hotels that Agra offers.
If you love the rain, then August to October is a great time to visit, as it is the season for heavy monsoon showers – grab a cup of hot tea (chai) at one of the local bazaars and take in the beauty of the rain-washed city. The beginning of summer starts in April and is a time when you will usually spot more locals and fewer tourists, but if you’re willing to bear the heat, one major plus is that all hotels offer great deals.
The mention of food in Agra is bound to make mouths water. The city is home to many specialities, especially roadside food, and you can easily spot something cooking or frying in every nook and cranny of the city. However, for someone new to Agra, street food might be too spicy or harsh on the stomach.
If tourists are looking to try something traditional, quite a few restaurants and food shops also offer the same authentic tastes as roadside food stalls. Additionally, hotels mostly cater to the taste buds of tourists and keep their curries mild. To save yourself from food poisoning, try out the food at some of the popular Indian restaurants such as Pinch of Spice and Bon Barbecue. For a South Indian experience, you’ve got the highly recommended Dasaprakash and G Thal, and lastly, you’ve got the famous Deviram and Bhagat Halwai for an authentic street food feel but in a hygienic restaurant setting.
Additionally, in many foreign countries, tap water is the main source of drinkable water, but in Agra, you should always purchase bottled water, which is easily available in all shops and stores. Some of the well-known bottle brands include Bisleri, Kinley and Aqua Fina.
Alcohol is commonly available in all areas of Agra, but for those who are not aware, especially foreigners and tourists, so is fake alcohol. As you walk down the city’s main Fatehabad Road, mostly late at night, several bootleggers may approach you quite professionally and offer authentic-looking branded alcohol at very attractive prices. Therefore, it is always safer to purchase alcohol from licensed wine shops found across the city, such as the well-known Suroor Model Shop located in Sanjay Place.
They will spot you as soon as you step out of the car to go and explore one of the most-visited monuments. These hawkers are employed to convince you to visit their nearby local stores and can become quite aggressive in the process. Most of their shops sell marble and stonework showpieces, but at higher prices than those sold at other wholesale markets. Additionally, they may sometimes even sell fake marble items, and it is usually hard to tell the difference between the real and fake pieces. The ideal places to purchase local handicrafts of marble and stone inlay are Akbar International and Oswal Emporium.
Although quite rare, it’s still better to remain cautious, particularly if you are new to the city. Avoid walking alone at night (especially women), or if walking is unavoidable, then try to stay in well-lit public areas. Additionally, avoid wearing expensive jewellery and carrying large amounts of cash as it unnecessarily attracts unwanted attention.
In the case of a serious incident, Agra’s Tourist Police are based on Fatehabad Road and wear sky-blue uniforms. You can also find them hanging around Taj Mahal’s East Gate office and the UP Tourism Office on Taj Road.