After you have admired the Taj Mahal and explored the Agra Fort, it’s time to go shopping in Agra for some mementoes, souvenirs and food items. Sadar Bazar is a favourite where you can feast at the Chaat Gali and shop for your favourites. Raja Kin Mandi, Kinari Bazar and Munro Road are other markets too. There are shops near the Taj Mahal where you will get these- some steeply-priced and others affordable. The shopkeepers will chase you and pester you to come and visit their stalls.
You will find a lot of shops selling handicrafts, clothes and quirky jewellery, most of which are brought from across the different states of India. If you plan to visit Delhi and Agra or do the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur), you will get more variety and better quality there than at Agra. But here is a list of things that are distinctively made in Agra and worth buying.
1. Petha and Dal Moth
Just as the Jalebis of Bhopal and Rasgullas of Kolkatta are well known, so is the Petha of Agra. A translucent sweet candy made with ash gourd, cut into cubes and soaked in lime, boiled and flavoured with sugar syrup. Anguri petha, Kesar petha, to even Paan flavoured petha are some of the options available. Panchi Petha in Sadar Bazar is the original shop with loyal customers. Several other brands are also available. Dal moth is a savoury snack made with fried lentils (masoor), gram flour vermicelli (sev) and spices. It makes for a great tea time snack, or you can munch on it while on the go.
2. Marble Collectables
The subsequent generation of the original artisans of Taj still use the same techniques and tools to make assorted marble collectables. The fine craftsmanship with intricate Mughal designs encrusted with semi-precious stones is every craft connoisseurs’ favourite. From vases, plates, decorative boxes to tabletops and figurines, you will find an array of options. Beware of cheap and fake marble items made of synthetic material and plastics passed off as marble by street urchins.
3. Taj Mahal Memorabilia
Almost every tourist to Agra will pick a Taj Miniature to display in their homes proudly. If you want something minimal, then keychains and magnets with the Taj engraved will suffice. Nowadays, there are a growing number of Feng Shui experts cautioning people from picking the Taj Mahal as it’s a mausoleum of the dead and considered in an ill omen. We will leave it to the buyers’ discretion to decide whether to pick one or not. The genuine marble replicas with detailed ornamentation are expensive. You will find plastic and glass ones being passed off as marble so be wary.
4. Shoes and Bags
‘Agra ka Joota’ or Agra shoes are famous. Factories manufacture and sell these at wholesale rates, and the shoes are exported across India and even abroad. Leather belts, bags and purses are also good items to pick. There are shops in and around Sadar Bazar that will sell you single pieces at competitive prices.
5. Carpets and Rugs
The Persian carpets may be world-famous, but the rugs and carpets made in Agra also use the same techniques brought to India by Emperor Akbar. You will find the floral Mughal designs, which you saw on the Taj Mahal, woven in the carpets. Ditto for the characteristic geometrical polygons, stars and circles. They make for great wall and floor accents of homes.
Whether fake or genuine, you will find an endless variety of jewellery here. Beads and marbles are cheaper, but semi-precious stones and pearls are also available if you are willing to splurge. You must have a discerning eye to distinguish a fake from the original and not get duped.