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India >> North >> Uttar Pradesh >> Agra
Agra Uttar Pradesh, North
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Agra is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. As per the legends, the city was originally founded by Raja Badal Singh (around 1475), whos fort, Badalgarh, stood on or near the site of the present Fort.

 

Though Agra's history is largely referred to with Mughal Kingdom, but the place came into being much before it and has linkages to Mahabharat period and Mahirshi Angira in 1000 BC. It is factually accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lodi, the Ruler of the Delhi Sultanate founded Agra in the year 1504. After the Sultan's death the city passed on to his son Sultan Ibrahim Lodi. He ruled the Sultanate from Agra until he fell fighting to Babar in the First battle of Panipat fought in 1526.

 

The golden age of the city began with the Mughals, as it ubiquitously started to be recognized as the capital of the Mughal emperors from 1526 to 1658. It was known then as Akbarabad and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under the Emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan later shifted his capital to Shahjahanabad in the year 1649.

 

Since Akbarabad was one of the most important cities in India under the Mughals, it witnessed a lot of construction activity. Babar, the founder of the Mughal dynasty, laid out the first formal Persian garden on the banks of river Yamuna. The garden is called the Aram Bagh or the Garden of Relaxation. His grandson Akbar raised the towering ramparts of the Great Red Fort, besides making Agra a center for learning, arts, commerce and religion. Akbar also built a new city on the outskirts of Akbarabad called Fatehpur Sikri. This city was built in the form of a Mughal military camp in stone.

 

His son Jahangir had love for flora and fauna, and laid many gardens inside the Red Fort or Lal Qila. Shahjahan, son of Jahangir, known for his keen interest in architecture, gave Akbarabad its most prized monument, the Taj Mahal. Built in loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the mausoleum was completed in 1653.

 

Shahjahan later shifted the capital to Delhi during his reign, but his son Aurangzeb moved the capital back to Akbarabad, usurping his father and imprisoning him in the Fort there. Akbarabad remained the capital of India during the rule of Aurangzeb until he shifted it to Aurangabad in the Deccan in 1653. After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the city came under the influence of Marathas and Jats and was called Agra, before falling into the hands of the British Raj in 1803.

 

During the British period Agra was made a District in 1805 A.D. and a Collector was posted. Agra presidency was founded in 1833 A.D. During Agra presidency in 1835 A.D. Western - North border Province which is known as United Province was formed of which Agra remained Capital till 1857 A.D. After 1857 A.D. mutiny the capital of United Province was shifted from Agra to Allahabad. After this the British rule was again secured over the city until the independence of India in 1947.

 Orientation

Located very strategically at the heart of India in the rich alluvial plains between the great Ganga and Yamuna rivers, Agra had been a centre of fervor religious and commercial activities for the last 3000 years. But it really evolved itself only when the Mughals chose to make it their home. Agra became the grand stage to enact and unfold the epic dramas of varied degrees of intense human emotions and deeds; wars were fought and won, one killed else got killed for sheer love and intense passion, their tremendous energy, their mercurial moods and lust for power propelled them to urge their armies  forward across vast stretches of inhospitable lands. And yet they can hardly be dismissed as ravenous invaders or apathetic rulers. What earned them the domination as great rulers in Indian history was not simply the ability to consolidate the territory, but their grace, their compassion, refinement, love of nature and above all, their devotion to various forms of art. This is what was appreciated and endured.

 

Amongst the legacies the Mughals bestowed, the one that holds all in awe, considered as Indias most enduring and the finest example of architecture is the Taj Mahal. This magnificent monument of perfection which stands as a symbol for eternal love, sits by the banks of river Yamuna, at Agra the former capital of the Mughals.

 

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal is one of the most graceful and extravagant monuments in India. The seventh wonder of the world, it attracts thousands of tourists every year. A symbol of endless love and devotion of Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj is a befitting tribute to so romantic-a-love story and so divine an emotion that binds two souls forever. A visit to Taj Mahal, the mausoleum of Mumtaz, is a rare experience. It has become signature monument of Indian architecture and someone has rightly said that Taj has been designed like a palace and finished like a jewel.

The pure white marble structure, Taj acquires different shades at different times of the day and with changing seasons. The soft pink color of the dawn and fiery shade that it acquires at dusk are all bewitching. Though, the light that presents it in the best possible manner is perhaps that of full moon, when it shines with pristine white and silver glory. The Taj Mahal is phenomenal not in the beauty alone that shines forth, but in the deep planning and design that went into its making, and the ethereal idea of immortalizing love. Delicate carvings in marble vie with gorgeous pietra dura for attention. Lapis-lazuli, Cornelian, Mother of pearl, Agate and Emerald are inlayed in floral and geometrical patterns in the marble itself. This enchanting mausoleum, on the bank of river Yamuna started in 1631 and it took 22 years to complete with the help of an estimated 20000 workers.

 

Although it is one of the most photographed edifices in the world and instantly recognizable, actually seeing it is awe-inspiring. Not everything is in the photos. The grounds of the complex include several other beautiful buildings, reflecting pools, and extensive ornamental gardens with flowering trees and bushes, and a small gift shop. The Taj framed by trees and reflected in a pool is amazing. Close up, large parts of the building are covered with inlaid stonework.

 

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.

 

Red 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.

 

Emperor Akbar, king at 14, began consolidating his empire and, as an assertion of his power built the fort in Agra between 1565 and 1571, at the same time as Humayun's Tomb in Delhi. Emperor Shah Jahan added to the fort and ended up a prisoner in it. The fort has a beautiful view of his masterpiece, the Taj Mahal, on a clear day.

 

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri was planned as a great town by Akbar with great care and planning in the honor of Sheikh Salim Chisti but had to be abandoned only after fifteen years due to scarcity of water in the town. Sheikh Salim Chishti was a Sufi saint who blessed the Akbar with his first son and heir, who was named Salim after him and later came to be known as Jehangir. The town was originally named Sikri after the village, where it was founded but its twin city Fatehpur (Victory Town) was erected to celebrate Akbar's conquest of Gujarat in June 1573.

However, ruins of the temple dating back to 12th century suggest the reign of Rajputs in the area long before Mughals took over the area. The two mosques in the village of Sikri have inscriptions, which announce their conception in 1314 under Mohd. Khilji. There have been records that Babur renamed the village 'Sikri' as 'Shukri', meaning 'thanks to the god'. It was also the famous dwelling place and khanqah of Shiekh Salim Chishti, the famous Sufi saint whom Akbar revered for blessing him with child.

 Getting there

Location

Located at the banks of Yamuna River in western Uttar Pradesh.

Distances

203 km south-east of Delhi and 365 north-west of Lucknow.

 Fast Facts
Name Agra Best Time To Visit October to March
Location Uttar Pradesh   North   India   Destination  
Open From 0000-00-00  To 0000-00-00 Type Historical City
Temperature Summar   38-42      Winter   4-8      Rainy   30-35
 Map
 
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