Even though Abul Fazal, the court historian of Akbar, maintained that Agra was the centre of India, Agra's life in the limelight was brief, though brilliant. In 1504 AD, Sikandar Lodi, the Afghan ruler of Delhi, shifted his capital to Agra. In those days, however, Agra did not boast of anything more than a medieval brick fort called 'Badalgarh'. Twenty two years later when Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi at Panipat, the fortunes of Agra began to change. Babur made Agra his capital and the dynasty he founded continued to treat Agra as a major centre for trade and commerce even when it ceased to be a capital. It was with Akbar that Agra really came into its own. For more than one hundred and fifty years, Agra was the Lodi and Mughal capital, until Aurangzeb transferred it officially to Delhi on usurping his father's throne in 1658 AD. In the seventeenth century, the city was compared favorably with London and its architecture master places from the Great Mughal period are world famous. In view of all this, most visitors expect to find Agra as city of glorious past with the vestiges of its former glory. A tourist on ‘heritage walk tour’ happens to see the narrow streets of the old city, old buildings and the Jama Masjid area. These are reminiscent of erstwhile glorious past of Mughal Empire. With the rapid diminishing power of the Mughal in the second half of the eighteenth century, Agra became a battleground for the Marathas and the Jats, who took it in turn to control the city, much destruction occurred during their disputations, particularly in 1764 AD, following a Jat raid. The British made Agra the regional capital once again, early in the nineteenth century, and built a large cantonment to the south, which even today represents half the entire city.
Fortunately, the Jats and Marathas, although they were Hindus, spared Agra's Muslim tombs, mosques and fort like: the Taj Mahal to the South-east, the Tomb of It Mad ud Daulah to the east and the Tomb of Akbar to the north-west, in the suburb of Sikandara. Agra Fort was also untouched. This is quite in contrast to the fact that Muslim invaders destroyed Hindu monuments with religious vengeance. Primarily, it is the peripheral monuments of Agra, in particular the Taj Mahal that people come to see rather than the city itself. The overall impression that Agra gives is of a crown of base metal studded with exquisite jewels. Although no detailed record exists of the layout and appearance of Agra in its heydays, there had been exotic bazaars, garden mansions, garden, trees and, probably, water coursing through the main street. A better impression of the splendors of the Mughal cities is gained from a visit to Akbar's 'dead city' of Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri’s grand Jama Masjid and royal palaces have been almost untouched by time, although little else remains.
The cultural and architectural heritage is the epitome of Agra tourism. Being in proximity of Mathura and Vrindavana, Krishna Janmashtami & Holi are celebrated with gusto. Being home to large Muslim population due to Mughal rule in the past, Islamic festivals like Id and Ramjan are also observed with religious fervor.
Optima Travels serves as Agra travel guide for the tourists planning to visit the city of Agra. There are many Mughal monuments like Taj Mahal, Baby Taj, Agra Fort, Tomb of Akbar in Sikandara and many more in Agra. Taj Mahal and Agra Fort are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Agra is a place also appreciated by its markets. There are a large number of markets and shopping centers where a traveler can find crafts (replicas of Taj Mahal are very typical), shoes or leather bags, clothes, jewelry, rugs, carpets, etc. There are many comments from visitors who agree that the city is very chaotic, sloppy and unattractive. Even so, it is always advisable to visit as it is sure to be unforgettable.