Agra is the one of the prominent destinations of the World Tourism map with three heritage monuments - The Taj Mahal, Red Fort & Fatehpur Sikri. It is more just a dacadent city of graveyards and stones, but it is a vibrant centre of Culture, Art and Religious philosphies that have enriched mankind and shaped humen thought over centuries.
A pleasant town with comparatively slow pace, Agra is known for its superb inlay work on marble and soastone by craftsman who are descendant of those who worked under the Mughals. The city is also famous for its carpets, gold thread embroidery and leather shoes.
Agra was once the capital of the Mughal empire and even today it seems to linger in the past . Not surprising , for the Mughal emperors with their passion for building, endowed the city with some of the finest structures in the world. It is very easy to slip away here through the centuries into the grandeur and intrigues of the Mughal court.
Agra is an old city and it is said that its name was derived from Agrabana, a forest that finds mention in the epic Mahabharata.
in more recent times Agra came into prominence when Sikandar Lodi made it his capital city in 1501 . The Lodi rule was to end very soon and Agra passed into the possession of the Mughals .
It was during the time of the third emperor Akbar that Agra came into its own . He embarked on the construction of the massive Agra Fort in 1565. Though Akbar was diverted into building a new capital at Fatehpur sikri not far away.
Agra continued to retain its importance and Shah Jehan, Akbar's garndson ornamented the city with that masterpiece of Mughal architecture - the Taj Mahal and built several other beautiful buildings within the Agra fort.
How to Reach Agra
By Air :
Indian airlines connects Agra to Delhi, Khajuraho and Varanasi. Kheria Airport is about 9 km. from Govt. of India Tourist Office
By Rail :
Agra is a major railway junction on main broad guage routes to the south, east and west. Two of the best trains viz. Shatabdi Express (between Delhi and Bhopal) and Taj Express (between Delhi and Gwalior) are available to access agra. Some other train servicing the city are : G.T. Express (New Delhi to Chennai), Dadar Express (Mumbai to Amritsar), Jhelum Express (Jammu to Pune), Kalinga Utkal Express (New Delhi to Puri), Karnataka Express (New Delhi to Trivendrum), Ujjani Express (Dehradoon to Ujjain) and Hyderabad Express (New Delhi to Hyderabad).
By Road :
Agra, on cross roads of national highways 2, 3 and 11, is excellently connected to all parts of the country. Some important road distances from Agra are: Bharatpur-54 km., Delhi-204 km., Gwalior-119 km., Jaipur-232 km., Khajuraho-400 km., Lucknow-369 km., Mathura-450 km., Nainital-353 km., Varanasi-605 km. and Mussorie-417 km.
Agra - Agra is known, to the world as the city of Taj Mahal. Agra has its roots, dating back to the time of Mahabaratha. Agra is situated on the west-bank of River Yamuna, 204 km south of Delhi. The old part of the town, north of the fort, is where the main market place is. The modern township is on the south. Agra has a magnificent fort and many other monuments from the Mughul era, not to mention the Taj Mahal, which are major attractions to the tourists. It then became the imperial capital Akbar's grand son shahjahan made timest memoir for his wife in the from of Tajmahal in spite of the shorter span of its role as capital Agra surpasses
The Taj Mahal
This extravagant monument of love is one of the most visited and most photographed places in the world. Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal was the culmination point of Indo-Persian architecture. An other Mughal architecture achievements, in spite of their splendors, are surpassed by tajmahal a work of such flawless beauty that one's initial astonishment at it never fades.
Agra Red Fort
Third Mughal Emperor Akbar choose Agra as his capital he laid the foundation of the Fort of Agra. After Taj this is one of the most important group of buildings. The construction was started in 1565 and was completed in about eight years at a cost of 3500000 of rupees under the superintendence of Qasim Khan Mir Barr-u-Bahr. This fort was just one of the many large fortified residences that the emperor wanted to have at various strategic points of his empire. According to contemporary chroniclers like Abul Fazal the fort contained over five hundred buildings. But later on Akbar's descendants added new buildings, mainly in marble to the fort and demolished the old ones.
37 kms from Agra is built a city predominantly in Red Sandstone called Fatehpur Sikri. This town was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. He had planned this city as his capital but shortage of water compelled him to abandon the city and within 20 years the capital of Mughals was shifted to Lahore. Fatehpur Sikri was built during 1571 and 1585. The city is a fine example of culmination of Mughal and Hindu architecture. Any visitor to Agra must have a go at Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri mosque was said to be built in lines of the holy mosque in Mecca. Entrance to the mosque is through the Buland Darwaza that is 54m high.
Akbar's Mausoleum, Sikandra
Four kilometer from Agra is the mausoleum of Akbar. Construction of this beautiful monument was started by Akbar himself . This structure has a perfect blending of Hindu, Christian , Islamic, Buddhist, Jain motifs.
Jama Masjid Or Jami Masjid
Built by Shah Jahan in 1648, the main gate of this mosque has inscription written on it that it was built by Jahanara Begum. She was the favorite daughter of Shah Jahan and was imprisoned with him. The absence of minarets and the shape of the dome give sit a distinguished character.
A tomb of glazed tiles is a memorial dedicated to poet-scholar and later the Prime Minister of Shah Jahan, Allama Afzel Khal Mullah Shukrullah of Shiraz.
Dayal Bagh Temple
15-kms from Agra, Dayal Bagh, also known as Soamibagh, houses the samadhi of the founder of Radha Swami faith, 'Swamiji Maharaj'. The main structure is a majestic building, 110-feet in height, built of pure white marble. The belief here is that construction work should never end, making it into a living monument, hence it is under construction for almost 100 years.
This tomb belongs to the father of Nur Jahan, Ghias-ud-Din Beg. He was the Wajir or the Chief Minister of Emperor Jehangir. This white marble tomb was built by Nur Jahan between 1622 and 1628. The tomb 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. A similar tomb was built by Nur Jahan for Jehangir in Lahore. This tomb was the first complete marble Moghul structure.
This tomb is dedicated to the wife of Akbar. The red sand stone tomb was built in 1611 and is on the Delhi- Agra highway. The carvings on the tomb of Mariyam-us-Zamani are worth giving a closer look.
When Babur came to India he laid the first Mughal gardens 500 m North of the Chini Ka Rauza. This well laid gardens are not even a fraction of what they used to be. It will need lots of imagination to picture how these gardens must have looked in 1558.