Agra, or the city of the Taj, as it is known all over the world, forms the first destination on the itinerary of most travelers coming into India. Forming part of the famous 'Golden Triangle' (Delhi-Jaipur-Agra), it is placed on the western bank of the Yamuna. The magnificent Taj Mahal which is the pride of this city is set around a Charbagh or 'four garden' plan, which is split by watercourses - a reflection of the Persian style.
Agra finds mention in the Mahabharata as Agraban. This city of the Taj ,was established in 1475, by Badal Singh, but came into its own when Sikander Lodi, chose it as his capital ,but was eventually defeated by Babur, who laid the foundation of the Mughal empire. Agra reached its zenith during the reign of the Mughal Empire, to become the center of art, culture, commerce and learning. By mid 16th and the earlier 17th century, Agra witnessed a frenzied building activity purely in the contemporary Mughal style, and it was during this time, when the symbol of love - TheTaj Mahal was built.
Agra has witnessed the rise of the pomp and pageantry of the Mughal Monarchs, who lavished on this fabled city, their love and riches, bringing a change in the culture and life-style among the people. Agra is one of the most important centres for handicrafts, made of marble and soft stone inlay work. Major handicraft products of Agra, besides inlay work are leatherware, brassware, carpets, jewellery and embroidery work. The major languages spoken here are Hindi, Urdu and English.
How to Reach -
Agra is well connected by road, rail and air. By air, Kheria airport is 6 kms from Agra and is well connected to cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Khajuraho, Jaipur, Varanasi and other important cities. By rail, the nearest and main railheads are Agra Cantt, Raji-ki-Mandi and Agra Fort railway stations which are well connected to Delhi, Gwalior, Bhopal, Bangalore, Jammu Tawi and other parts of the country. By road, Agra is well connected by good motorable roads. For those driving from Delhi, the best route is by Mathura Road via Faridabad. It is well connected to the neighbouring state of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh as buses depart for Khajuraho, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Mathura frequently.
Places to See :
The Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal is one of the wonders of the world and the epitome of love, beauty and sacrifice. Built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his queen, Mumtaz Mahal, its construction is believed to have taken 22 years to complete with over 20,000 craftsmen working round the clock. Even as the world is caught in the skirmishes of War and peace, Nuclear and Non-Nuclear; Taj has stood as the epitome of love. One of the most visited and most photographed places in the world, this extravagant monument of love is the culmination point of Indo-Persian architecture.
Situated opposite the Taj Mahal on the other side of the River Yamuna, Itmad-ud-Duala houses a magnificent mausoleum of Ghias Beg, father of Noor Jehan and the Chief Minister of Emperor Jehangir. This white marble tomb and the first complete marble Moghul structure may not be as mammoth as the Taj but the inlay designs and carvings are no less than Taj if not more. The delicate marble latticework in the passages allows the light to enter the interiors. Nur Jahan built a similar tomb for Jehangir in Lahore.
Dayal Bagh is the birthplace of the Radhaswami sect, which was founded by a banker of Agra, Swami Shiv Dayal, in 1861. It is a place of pilgrimage for members of this sect and a temple is built here in honour of their fourth Guru.
Agra Fort is situated in the center of the town. Built principally as a military establishment by Akbar in 1565, the red sandstone Agra fort was partially converted into a palace during Shah Jahans time. Though Akbar built the principle structure, his grandsons made many more additions.
This deserted city lies along the top of a ridge. This new capital of Akbar had to be abandoned, only 14 years after it was created, due to lack of water. But the splendid palaces and mosques remain as a vanquished dream. However, this ghost city, is worth a view for its buildings, and can be classified into religious, secular and architectural wonders. The latticework of Jama Masjid and the Dargah of Sheikh Salim Chishti are among the finest in India. The Bais Palace, Birbals House, Mariams House, Panch Mahal, Shahi Darwaza and the Buland Darwaza definitely deserve a visit.