Agra has been immortalized as the City of the Taj. Yet, it doesn’t take much for the roving eye to discover that there’s more to Agra than just the fabled Taj Mahal. The city is a virtual gateway to a world of discovery….. a freeze-frame from a resplendent era that’s long since gone by. In the great epic ‘Mahabharat’ the region of Agra is described as ‘Agraban’ (an integral part of the Braj Bhumi or the land of Lord Krishna). The latter part of Indian history outlines the origin of Agra to 1475 A.D., the reign of Raja Badal Singh.
Agra came into limelight during the rule of Afghan King Sikandar Lodhi – who had made it the capital of his empire. Later in 1526 A.D., the Mughal Emperor Babar took upon himself the task for rendering Agra, a unique character and beauty of its own. The visionary that he was and great patron of the arts, Emperor Babar brought in a change in the culture and life-style among the people of Agra, which then brought forth some of the finest craftsmen, artists, statesmen, warriors and nobility, this part of India had ever witnessed, The golden age of Agra’s history, thus began to set in. The next few hundred years of Agra witnessed the rise of the pomp and pageantry of three great Mughal monarchs – Emperor Akbar, Jahangir and ShahJahan – all of whom lavished on this fabled city, their love and riches immeasurably to transform the land into one of the great centers of art, culture, learning and commerce.
Much of the city’s impressive past lives is a witness of the majesty of the buildings, the exquisite arts and crafts and not to forget, the lure of an exceptional cuisine…. All, cherished as priceless legacies of a nostalgic past. The older city of Agra has impressively retained much of its resplendent history…… captivating every visitor with fond memories to take back home. Today, luxury and modern convenience also exist adjacent to tradition – luxury hotels, shopping malls and plazas, wide avenues and a superb choice of venues for recreation, business, sports, pleasure, education and the arts.
Sightseeing Places in Agra
Taj Mahal : The Taj Mahal is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife. Taj Mahal means Crown Palace. One of his wife’s names was Mumtaz Mahal, Ornament of the Palace. The Taj is one of the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tombs in the world, one of the masterpieces of Indian Muslim architecture, and one of the great sites of the world’s heritage.
The Taj Mahal has a life of its own that leaps out of marble, provided you understand that it is a monument of love. The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore called it a teardrop on the cheek of eternity, while the English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold, said it was Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones. It is a celebration of woman built in marble, and that is the way to appreciate it.
Agra Fort : The Taj and the Yamuna River from the ramparts of Agra Fort. The fort is similar in layout to the Red Fort in Delhi, but considerably better preserved, as much of Delhi Fort was razed by the British after the Mutiny. As much as palace as a defensive structure, it is also constructed mainly from red sandstone.
Akbar's Tomb Sikandra : Sikandra Open from sunrise to sunset. The tomb of Akbar lies here in the centre of the large garden. Akbar started its construction himself but it was completed by his son Jahangir, who significantly modified the original plans which accounts for the somewhat cluttered architectural lines of the tomb. Four red sandstone gates lead to the tomb complex: one is Muslim, one Hindu, one Christian, and one is Akbar’s patent mixture.
Fatehpur Sikri : It was built in the the 16th century by the Emperor Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri (the City of Victory) was the capital of the Mughal Empire for about 10 years. Then it was abandoned for reasons that are still something of a mystery. It includes one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid. It is full of well preserved palaces and courtyards, and this UNESCO world heritage site is a must see for anyone visiting Agra.