Agra is famous as being home to one of the seven wonders of the world-the Taj Mahal....

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Agra is famous as being home to one of the Seven Wonders of the world-the Taj Mahal. The architectural splendour of the mausoleums, the fort and the palaces is vivid reminder of the opulence of the legendary Mughal empire, of which Agra was the capital in the 16th and early 17th centuries. While its significance as a political center ended with the transfer of the capital to Delhi in 1634 by Shah Jahan, its architectural wealth has secured its place on the international map. A pleasant town with a comparatively slow pace, Agra is known for its superb inlay work on marble and soapstone by craftsmen who are descendants of those who worked under the Mughals. The city is also famous for its carpets, gold thread embroidery and leather shoes.

Agra has a rich historical background, which is amply evident from the numerous historical monuments in and around the city. The earliest reference for Agra comes from the epical age, when Mahabharata refer Agra as Agravana. In the sources prior to this, Agra has been referred as Arya Griha or the abode of the Aryans. The first person who referred Agra by its modern name was Ptolemy.

Though the heritage of Agra city is linked with the Mughal dynasty, numerous other rulers also contributed to the rich past of this city. Modern Agra was founded by Sikandar Lodhi in the 16th century. Babar (founder of the Mughal dynasty) also stayed for sometime in Agra and introduced the concept of square Persian-styled gardens here. Emperor Akbar built the Agra fort and Fatehpur Sikri near Agra. Fatehpur Sikri remained his capital for around fifteen years after which the city was left isolated in mysterious circumstances. Jahangir beautified Agra with palaces and gardens despite spending most of his time in Kashmir with which he was passionately attached.

Agra came to its own when Shahjahan ascended to the throne of Mughal Empire. He marked the zenith of mughal architecture, when he built the Taj in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. In his later years, Shahjahan shifted his capital to the new city of Shahjahanabad in Delhi and ruled from there. Shahjahan was dethroned in 1658 by his son, Aurangzeb who imprisoned him in the Agra fort. Aurangzeb shifted the capital back to Agra till his death. After the death of Aurangzeb, Mughal Empire could not touch its peak and many regional kingdoms emerged. The post-Mughal era of Agra saw the rule of the Jats, Marathas and finally the British taking over the city.

Best Time to Visit Agra
Mid September to March

Agra Attractions
Taj Mahal, Tomb of Itimad Ud Daulah, Dayalbagh Gardens, Jama Masjid, Akbar Tomb at Sikandra, Chini ka Rauza, Buland Darwaza, Rambagh Gardens, Fatehpur Sikri, Sikandra Fort, Agra Fort, Moti Masjid, Nagina Masjid, Palace of Mirrors

Agra Attraction Details
Taj Mahal: The symbol of eternal love, the Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal, who died at a young age of 38 while giving birth to their 14th child. Situated on the bank of Yamuna River, the Taj Mahal represents a fine blend of Mughal, Persian, Central Asian, and Islamic architecture. The most impressive and remarkable features of the Taj Mahal are its four tall minarets (162.5 feet high) at four corners of the structure, the black and white chessboard marble floor and the majestic dome (213 feet high and 58 feet in diameter) in the middle. The Taj Mahal is one of the most visited and most photographed monuments in the world.

Tomb of Itimad Ud Daulah: The tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah was the first of its kind to be built in marble. This mausoleum is home to the tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg (later known as Itimad-ud-Daulah).This enchanting piece of architecture is said to be the forerunner of the Taj Mahal. Many of the patterns and designs of the mausoleum are said to be used while constructing the Taj Mahal. The tomb marks a break with the style of Mughal architecture. Its purely white ornate carvings adhere to the Islamic style of architecture.

Dayalbagh Gardens: The Dayalbagh gardens in the suburbs of Agra houses the mausoleum of Shri Shiv Dayal Singh also known as Huzur Soamiji Maharaj. The Dayalbagh Gardens are the headquarters of the Radhaswami religious group, founded by Shri Shiv Dayal Singh in 1861.

Akbar Tomb at Sikandra: The mausoleum of Akbar is located at Sikandra at about 10 Km from Agra. Akbar himself designed and started its construction. The beautiful tomb enjoys a perfect blending of Hindu, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist and Jain motifs.

Chini ka Rauza: This rectangular-shaped mausoleum bears the imprints of the fascinating confluence that took place between Mughal and Persian style architecture in that period. The structure is topped with an Afghan-style bulbous dome decorated in the pattern of an inverted lotus flower. The top of the dome is marked with some Quranic texts engraved on it. Parts of the walls, still covered with the colored enamel tiles (chini) in blue, green and yellow create a beautiful contrast against the earth-brown structure.

Jama Masjid: Built by Jahan Ara Begum -- the favorite daughter of Shah Jahan who was also imprisoned with him -- in 1648, the mosque has a unique shaped dome with no minarets. Also known as the Jami Masjid, the Jama Masjid in Agra holds the pride position of being India's largest mosque. It is the center of the city of Jama Masjid, which was built around it. To the right of the mosque lies the Jammat Khana hall and then the Zenana Rauza, or the tomb of the royal ladies. The structure itself is evidence of its importance as a sacred place of worship.

Buland Darwaza: Soaring impressively to a height of 40 meters or 175 feet, Buland Darwaza is approached by a flight of steps sweeping down the hill giving the gateway additional height. This stunning structure, built in red sandstone with embellishments in white marble, echoes early Mughal design. It is the most Islamic structure in Buland Darwaza and has inscriptions from the Quran on its front and pillars and chattris on its height. The inscription is not only famous for its calligraphy, but also testifies Akbar's religious broad-mindedness.

Rambagh Gardens: The garden is laid out in char bagh style. The main attractions of the gardens are the structure in charbagh pattern, with four main divisions made by paths and waterways. Water from the Yamuna flows in cascades in the garden. Fountains, an island platform, stairway on one side of the water channel and two pavilions on either side of the main water channel are other attractions of the Rambagh Gardens Agra. Emperor Babur was buried in the garden before being cremated in Kabul.

Fatehpur Sikri: Located at a distance of about 37 Km from Agra, the red sandstone town of Fatehpur Sikri was built by Akbar as his capital during 1571 and 1585. The city represents a fine blend of Indo- Mughal architecture. The main attractions at Fatehpur Sikri are the Buland Darwaza (54m high) - the largest gateway in the world and the tomb of famous Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti.

Agra Fort: The Mughal Emperor Akbar laid the foundation of the Agra Fort in 1565 AD. It took eight years to complete this massive fort at a cost of 3.5 million rupees at that time. After Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan also added some new features to the fort. The fort is known for its magnificent architectural styles reflected in its various features. Some of the main attractions in the fort include the Diwan-e-Aam, the Diwan-e-Khas, the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque), the Nagina Masjid and the Palace of Mirrors.

Sikandra Fort: Welcome 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.

How to reach Agra
By Air
Agra is on the popular regular tourist route Delhi/Agra/Khajuraho/Varanasi and return. Flights connect Agra to Delhi, Khajuraho and Varanasi.

By Rail
Agra lies on the Delhi to Mumbai broad - gauge railway line. Express trains from Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, and Chennai halt at Agra.

By Road
Agra is connected to Delhi, Rajasthan and other cities of Uttar Pradesh by an excellent bus service.

Where to stay in Agra
Col. Lamba Indian Homestay, Rose Home Stay, Tourists Rest House, Hotel Amar, Hotel Amar Yatri Niwas, Hotel Kant, Grand Hotel, Hotel Atithi, Hotel Ganga Ratan, Hotel Savoy, Joshi Tourist Complex, Ranjit Hotel, Mayur Tourist Lodge Hotel, Garden Vills Home Stay, Royal Residency, Hotel Ganga Ratan, Siris 18

Taj Mahal, Tomb of Itimad Ud Daulah, Dayalbagh Gardens, Jama Masjid, Akbar Tomb at Sikandra, Chini ka Rauza, Buland Darwaza, Rambagh Gardens, Fatehpur Sikri, Sikandra Fort, Agra Fort, Moti Masjid, Nagina Masjid, Palace of Mirrors, India, Islam


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