Agra, May 13 (IANS) Markets in Agra wore a deserted look and there were fewer vehicles on roads as the maximum temperature crossed 45 degrees Celsius on Sunday. The number of tourists too dwindled at the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri.

Foreign tourists were seen pouring water over their heads and colourful umbrellas showed up to seek protection from the oppressive sun.

Tourist guide Ved Gautam said the heat had taken its toll as was reflected in dwindling number of visitors.

"The red sand stones are all heated up, spewing fire," he said. "The demand for bottled water has gone up."

While foreign visitors in groups prefer morning and evening, domestic tourists have no fixed programmes and are usually seen hurrying through one monument after another, said Vivek Kumar, a travel agent.

"The Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri prove the toughest for visitors with long walks in sun."

Meanwhile, voluntary groups in the city have stepped up efforts to provide free and cold drinking water by opening water kiosks. The Sri Nathji Nishulk Jal Sewa runs a network of 50 "water huts" in the city.

Parents have urged the Agra authorities to order the closure of schools to prevent children running the risk of a heat stroke.