Northern Travels takes you to the Agra is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. With a population of 1,686,976 (2010 est.), it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most populous in India. Agra can also refer to the administrative district that has its headquarters in Agra city.
The city finds mention in the epic Mahabharata where it was called Agreva, or 'the border of the forest'.Legend ascribes the founding of the city to Raja Badal Singh (around 1475), whose fort, Badalgarh, stood on or near the site of the present Fort. However, the 11th century Persian poet Mas'ud Sa'd Salman writes of a desperate assault on the fortress of Agra, then held by the Shahi King Jayapala, by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. Sultan Sikandar Lodi was the first to move his capital from Delhi to Agra in the year 1506; he died in 1517 and his son Ibrahim Lodi remained in power there for nine more years, finally being defeated at the Battle of Panipat in 1526. It achieved fame as the capital of the Mughal emperors from 1526 to 1658 and remains a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Agra's Taj Mahal is one of the most famous buildings in the world, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan's favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, and one of three World Heritage Sites in Agra.
Completed in 1653, the Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal king Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Finished in marble, it is perhaps India's most fascinating and beautiful monument. This perfectly symmetrical monument took 22 years (1630–1652) of hard labour and 20,000 workers, masons and jewellers to build and is set amidst landscaped gardens. Built by the Persian architect, Ustad 'Isa, the Taj Mahal is on the bank of the Yamuna River. It can be observed from Agra Fort from where Emperor Shah Jahan gazed at it, for the last eight years of his life, a prisoner of his son Aurangzeb. It is an acknowledged masterpiece of symmetry. Verses of the Koran are inscribed on it and at the top of the gate are twenty-two small domes, signifying the number of years the monument took to build. The Taj Mahal was built on a marble platform that stands above a sandstone one. The most elegant dome of the Taj Mahal has a diameter of 60 feet (18 m), and rises to a height of 80 feet (24 m); directly under this dome is the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan's tomb was erected next to hers by his son Aurangzeb. The interiors are decorated by fine inlay work, incorporating semi-precious stones.
2) Agra Fort
Agra Fort (sometimes called the Red Fort), was commissioned by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1565, and is another of Agra's World Heritage Sites. A stone tablet at the gate of the Fort states that it had been built before 1000 but was later renovated by Akbar. The red sandstone fort was converted into a palace during Shah Jahan's time, and reworked extensively with marble and pietra dura inlay. Notable buildings in the fort include the Pearl Mosque, the Diwan-e-'Am and Diwan-e-Khas (halls of public and private audience), Jahangir's Palace, Khas Mahal, Shish Mahal (mirrored palace), and the Musamman Burj. Reference required.
The great Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned the construction of the Agra Fort in 1565 CE., although it was converted into a place by his grandson Shah Jahan, being reworked extensively with marble and pietra dura inlay. Notable buildings in the fort include the Pearl Mosque or Moti Masjid, the Diwan-e-'Am and Diwan-e-Khas (halls of public and private audience), Jahangir's Palace, Khas Mahal, Shish Mahal (mirrored palace), and the Musamman Burj. The forbidding exteriors of this fort conceal an inner paradise. The fort is crescent shaped, flattened on the east with a long, nearly straight wall facing the river. It has a total perimeter of 2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi), and is ringed by double castellated ramparts of red sandstone punctuated at regular intervals by bastions. A 9 metres (30 ft) wide and 10 metres (33 ft) deep moat surrounds the outer wall.
Chhatrapati Shivaji visited the Agra Fort, as a result of the conditions of the Treaty of Purandar entered into with Mirza Raja Jaisingh to meet Aurangzeb in the Diwan-i-Khas (Special Audience Chamber). In the audience he was deliberately placed behind men of lower rank. An insulted Shivaji stormed out of the imperial audience and was confined to Jai Sing's quarters on 12 May 1666. Fearing the dungeons and execution he escaped on 17 August 1666. A heroic equestrian statue of Shivaji has been erected outside the fort.
The fort is a typical example of Mughal architecture, effectively showing how the North Indian style of fort construction differentiated from that of the South. In the South, the majority forts were built on the seabed like the one at Bekal in Kerala.
The Mughal Emperor Akbar built Fatehpur Sikri about 35 km from Agra, and moved his capital there. Later abandoned, the site displays a number of buildings of significant historical importance. A World Heritage Site, it is often visited by tourists. The name of the place came about after the Mughal Emperor Babar defeated Ra?a Sanga in a battle at a place called Sikri (about 40 km from Agra). Then the Mughal Emperor Akbar wanted to make Fatehpur Sikri his head quarters, so he built a majestic fort; due to shortage of water, however, he had to ultimately move his headquarters to Agra Fort.
Buland Darwaza or 'the lofty gateway' was built by the great Mughal emperor, Akbar in 1601 CE. at Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar built the Buland Darwaza to commemorate his victory over Gujarat. The Buland Darwaza is approached by 52 steps. The Buland Darwaza is 53.63 m high and 35 meters wide. it is made of red and buff sandstone, decorated by carving and black and white marble inlays. An inscription on the central face of the Buland Darwaza demonstrates Akbar's religious broadmindedness, it is a message from Jesus advising his followers not to consider this world as their permanent home.
4) I'timad-Ud-Daulah in Agra.
The Empress Nur Jahan built I'timad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb, sometimes called the 'Baby Taj', for her father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg, the Chief Minister of the Emperor Jahangir. Located on the left bank of the Yamuna river, the mausoleum is set in a large cruciform garden criss-crossed by water courses and walkways. The mausoleum itself covers about 23 square metres (250 sq ft), and is built on a base about fifty meters square and about one meter high. On each corner are hexagonal towers, about thirteen meters tall. Small in comparison to many other Mughal-era tombs, it is sometimes described as a jewel box. Its garden layout and use of white marble, pietra dura, inlay designs and latticework presage many elements of the Taj Mahal.
) Taj Mahal in Agra.
The walls are white marble from Rajasthan encrusted with semi-precious stone decorations - cornelian, jasper, lapis lazuli, onyx, and topaz in images of cypress trees and wine bottles, or more elaborate decorations like cut fruit or vases containing bouquets. Light penetrates to the interior through delicate jali screens of intricately carved white marble.
Many of Nur Jahan's relatives are interred in the mausoleum. The only asymmetrical element of the entire complex is that the tombs of her father and mother have been set side-by-side, a formation replicated in the Taj Mahal.
6) Akbar's Tomb, Sikandra in Agra.
Sikandra, the last resting place of the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great, is on the Delhi-Agra Highway, only 13 kilometres from the Agra Fort. Akbar's tomb reflects the completeness of his personality. The vast, beautifully carved, red-ochre sandstone tomb with deers, rabbits and langurs 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 Turkic custom which the Mughals followed religiously. Akbar's son Jahangir completed construction of this pyramidal tomb in 1613. The names of the Gods of ninety-nine religious sects have been inscribed on the tomb.
7) Swami Bagh Samadhi in Agra.
The Swami Bagh Samadhi is a monument to hold the ashes of Huzur Swamiji Maharaj (Shri Shiv Dayal Singh Seth) in the Swamibagh section, on the high road that goes from Bhagwan Talkies to Dayal Bagh, in the outskirts of the city. He was the founder of the Radhaswami Faith and the Samadhi is sacred to its followers. Construction began in February 1904 and still continues. Many believe that construction will never end at Swami Bagh - it is often seen as the next Taj Mahal. The carvings in stone, using a combination or coloured marble, are life-like and not seen anywhere else in India. The picture shown is taken from the rear of the building and shows only two floors. When completed, the Samadhi will have a carved dome and a gateway.
8) Mankameshwar Temple in Agra.
The Mankameshwar Temple is one of four ancient temples dedicated to Lord Shiva located on the four corners of Agra City. It is located near the Jama Masjid and is about 2.5 kilometers from the Taj Mahal and less than 1 km from Agra Fort. Being located in the old city, the temple is surrounded by markets, many of which date back to the Mughal Era.
9) Guru ka Tal in Agra.
Guru ka Tal was originally a reservoir meant to collect and conserve rainwater built in Agra, near Sikandra, during Jahangir's reign next to the Tomb of I'tibar Khan Khwajasara in 1610. In 1970s a gurdwara was erected here. Guru ka Tal is a holy place of worship for the Sikhs. Four of the ten Sikh Gurus are said to have paid it a visit. Enjoying both historical and religious importance, this gurdwara attracts a large number of devotees and tourists. Boasting elaborate stone carvings and 8 towers of the twelve original towers. It is located by national (Delhi-Agra) highway-2.
10) Jama Masjid in Agra.
The Jama Masjid is a large mosque attributed to Shah Jahan's daughter, Princess Jahanara Begum, built in 1648, notable for its unusual dome and absence of minarets. The inscription at its entrance shows that it costed Rs 5 Lakhs at that time for its completion.
11) Chini ka Rauza in Agra.
Notable for its Persian influenced dome of blue glazed tiles, the Chini ka Rauza is dedicated to the Prime Minister of Shah Jahan, 'Allama Afzal Khal Mulla Shukrullah of Shiraz.
12) Ram Bagh in Agra.
The oldest Mughal garden in India, the Ram Bagh was built by the Emperor Babar in 1528 on the bank of the Yamuna. It lies about 2.34 km north of the Taj Mahal. The pavilions in this garden are designed so that the wind from the Yamuna, combined with the greenery, keeps them cool even during the peak of summer. The original name of the gardens was Aram Bagh, or 'Garden of Relaxation', and this was where the Mughal emperor Babar used to spend his leisure time and where he eventually died. His body was kept here for sometime before sending it to Kabul.
13) Mariam's Tomb in Agra.
Mariams Tomb, is the tomb of Mariam, the wife of great Mughal Emperor Akbar. The tomb is within the compound of the Christian Missionary Society.
14) Mehtab Bagh in Agra.
The Mehtab Bagh, or 'Moonlight Garden', is on the opposite bank of the River Yamuna from the Taj Mahal.
15) Keetham Lake in Agra.
Also known as Sur Sarovar, Keetham Lake is situated about 23 kilometres from Agra, within the Surdas Reserved Forest. The lake has an impressive variety of aquatic life and water birds.