is globally renown as the city of the Taj Mahal
But this royal
Mughal city has, in addition to the legendary Taj, many monuments that
emphasis the high point of Mughal architecture. Once the capital of India
under the Mughals, Agra is full of magnificent monuments dating back to the
16th and 17th century. It was here that the founder of the dynasty, Babar,
laid out the first formal Persian garden on the banks of the river Yamuna.
Here, Akbar, his grandson raised the towering ramparts of the
great Red Fort. Within its walls, Jehangir built rose-red palaces, courts
and gardens, and Shahjahan embellished it with marble mosques, palaces and
pavilions of gem-inlaid white marble.
The crowning glory of the
city is obviously the Taj, a monument of love and imagination, that
represents India to the world. There are very few cities
in the world that can match the history and heritage of Agra.
Located at a distance of 204 km south of Delhi, Agra is the single most
famous tourist destination of India. Situated on the west bank of
Agra is a part of the great Northern Indian plains.
The architectural splendor of the city is reflected in the glorious
monuments of medieval India built by great Mughals who ruled India for more
than 300 years. In the mid 16th century and earlier 17th century Agra
witnessed a frenzied building activity and it was during this time when the
symbol of love Taj Mahal was built. The buildings made during this era were
purely in the contemporary Mughal style and of very high quality which is
still reflected in what ever monuments remain in Agra.
Prime Attractions of
Agra» Taj Mahal
A poignant poetry in
marble, stands serene and awesome on a raised marble platform, by the banks
of the Yamuna. The most extravagant monument ever built for lover
is a tribute to the timelessness of art and love.
It is a
mesmerizing experience to watch the play of light on the pristine white
marble of the Taj. Its pure white marble shimmers silver in the soft
moonlight, exudes a shell - pink glow at dawn, and at the close of the day,
takes on the tawny, fiery hue of the majestic sun. Built by Shahjahan in the
memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the lady of the Taj, who died
giving birth to their 14th child, it's construction started in 1631 and
ended by 1653. About 20,000 people were recruited to give shape to this
poetry in marble.
The main architect, Isa Khan, came all the way
from Shiraz in Iran. Shahjahan's intention to build a second taj of Black
marble as his own tomb a negative image of the white Taj, was shattered when
he was imprisoned in the Agra Fort by his son Aurangazeb. Shahjahan's is
said to have spent his last days on earth looking wistfully at his wife's
final resting place across the river. The Taj serve as a symbol of eternal
love where the heart-broken Shahjahan was finally burried and reunited with
his beloved Mumtaz. Wonder of the World
people the world over, the Taj Mahal, mausoleum of Mughal Emperor shah
Jana's chief wife, Mumtaz Mahal, is synonymous with India. Its curving,
gently swelling dome and the square base upon which its rests so lightly is
a familiar image from hundreds of brochures and travel books. The
Taj is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular buildings of the world.
Renowned for its architectural magnificence and aesthetic beauty, it counts
among man's proudest creations and is invariably included in the list of the
world's foremost wonders. As a tomb, it has no match upon earth, for mortal
remains have never been housed in greater grandeur.
» Agra Fort Built by three of the
greatest Mughal Emperors is the Agra Fort.
The construction of this
massive structure began in 1565, under Akbar, and continued till the time of
his grandson, Shahjahan, when it changed from a principally military
structure to a more luxurious palace. Armed with massive double walls,
punctuated by four gateways, the fort houses palaces, courts, mosques,
baths, gardens and gracious pavilions within its premises. Among the
fascinating structures that are to be found within the fort is the red
sandstone Jehangiri Mahal built by Akbar for his Hindu queen, Jodhabai.
The palace is also notable for its smooth blending of Hindu and
central Asian architectural styles.
The Diwan - i - Am, the Diwan -
i - Khas, the Khas Mahal, the Palace of Mirrors, the Pearl mosque, the
Nagina Masjid, the Garden of Grapes, and the Fish Pavilion are the other
monuments in the fort complex.
The Itmad-ud-daulah tomb stands in the centre of a grand Persian garden, an
architectural gem of its times. It is the tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg, Emperor
Jehangir's wazir, or Chief Minister, and also his father - in- law. The
structure was built by Empress Noorjehan, between 1622 and 1628 and is very
similar to the tomb she constructed for her husband, near Lahore in
Pakistan. This splendid garden tomb is believed to be the precursor
of the magnificent Taj Mahal
, and was the first Mughal structure to
be built entirely of marble, and the first, again, to make use of pietra
dura, the inlay marble work that came to be typical of the Taj. Near the
Agra Fort, is Jami Masjid, built by Shahjahan in 1648. An inscription over
its main entrance indicates that it was built in the name of Jahanara, the
emperor's daughter, who was imprisoned with the emperor by Aurangzeb.
» Fatehpur Sikri40 km west of
Agra, is the perfectly preserved 'phantom city' of Fatehpur Sikri.
Between 1570 and 1586, during Akbar's reign, the city served as the capital
of the Mughal empire, and was then abruptly abandoned probably due to lack
of water supply. Today, albeit deserted, the city's palaces, courts and
other monuments stand in mute testimony to the greatness, and amazing vision
of the greatest emperor of all times, who was also a fine human being. The
dargah or tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti, the renowned saint, set in the
courtyard of the Royal Mosque, still draws hordes of pilgrims who come to
have their wishes fulfilled. Legend has is that the city was built by Akbar
as a tribute to Sheikh Salim Chisti who foretold that he would have three
sons. » Sikandra FortWelcome
to Sikandra, a supurb of Agra, only 13 km. from the Agra Fort, the last
resting place of the Mughal emperor Akbar.
Akbar was the greatest
of the Mughal emperors and one of the most secular minded royalties of his
time. He was the heir to a long tradition of oriental refinement, a great
patron of the arts, literature, philosophy and science.
A visit to
Akbar's monument opens before one, the completeness of Akbar's personality
as completely as the Taj Mahal does of Mumtaz Mahal's. Akbar's vast,
beautifully carved, red-ochre sandstone tomb is set amidst a lush garden.
Akbar himself planned his own tomb and selected a suitable site for it. To
construct a tomb in one's lifetime was a Tartary custom which the Mughals
followed religiously. Akbar's son Jahangir completed the construction of
this pyramidal tomb in 1613. » Khaas Mahal
Situated in between the golden pavilions is the Khaas Mahal. Built
entirely of marble by Shah Jahan, the palace demonstrates distinctive
Islamic-Persian features. These are well blended with a striking range of
Hindu features such as chhatries. It is considered to be emperor's sleeping
room or' Aramgah', The Khaas Mahal provides the most successful example of
painting on a white marble surface. »
To the right of Sheesh Mahal is Diwan-e-Khaas, the
Hall of Private Audience. Presently entry is not allowed inside
Diwan-e-Khaas but the fine proportions of the building can easily be
appreciated. The marble pillars are inlaid with semi-precious stones in
delightful floral patterns. Places to Stay in Agra
Agra is one of the major tourist destination, where
international tourist inflow is also quite good. So the options of luxurious
accommodations are plenty. If you are a budget travelers, there are numerous
tourist lodges as well mid-range hotels in Agra. Shopping
Agra is also famous for the leather items. Agra is the hub of hand made
leather items. Particularly the Agra jail inmates are make these items which
are sold to give them a decent earning. The local artisans are also good at
making leather chappals (sandals), purses, bags, decorative items and many
more such leather product which instantaneously attracts your attention.
In the handicraft craft emporiums and shops there are sandal and rose
wood items even though there are no rose or sandal wood forest nearby. The
shops also have brass decorative pieces and stone carved images. Agra is
also famous for the Zari and embroidery work, Stone inlay work and durries.