Wednesday, September 5, 2007


A visit to Agra India.

taj mahal agra

Taj Mahal Agra image courtsey:

Taj’s own land.

The name Agra instantly reminds Taj Mahal the monument – one of the seven wonders of the world - built by Shah Jehan but Taj is only one among the land mark structures located in and around Agra. It is a fact that Agra would have been much poorer if Taj would have located elsewhere; but this ancient city has much to offer beyond Taj as it had been the center of the Mughal Emperors for years. In ancient sites of historic importance Agra can outpace Delhi but closeness between these two cities has worked for the benefit for both places, tourists are also benefited as they can visit both locations packaged in a single day tours.

On the banks of River Yamuna.

The City of Agra is in the State of Uttar Pradesh, on the banks of River Yamuna, is 82 sq. k m in area, and has a population of 1.4 million, it is at an altitude of about 169 meters above sea level and about 204 kilometers south of India’s capital New Delhi. It is some what a quieter town when compared to Delhi but enriched by numerous landmarks like mausoleums, palaces, tombs and other historically important sites. Its history dates back to the Maha Bharat times as the Agrabana mentioned in it is the present day Agra, where Lord Sri Krishna was born and fulfilled his mission of birth hence this part of the land is also known as Brij Bhumi. .

Begins from Ptolemy.

Written history starts with Ptolemy’s records were Agra is marked in his world map. King Jaipal who had a fort in 12th century was attacked unsuccessfully by the great conqueror Mohammed Gazni. Then comes ruler Sikander Lodhi who repulsed an attack by Baber; father of Akbar. Later Baber won the battle and established the Mughal Empire. The period of Mughal Empire (1526 – 1658) which begins from Baber is written in golden inks in the history of India as most of the structures of which India is proud of; were built during that period. Baber, Akber, Jahangir, Shah Jehan, Aurangazeb etc were all rulers of high caliber and they all played their roles in making Delhi and Agra richer to great extents.

Triple crown.

Agra has the pride possession of three World Heritage Sites, the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and the Fatehpur Sikri Fort. Taj Mahal as it is well known is described as the gem of the crown and has the credit to be one among the Seven Wonders of the World. Emperor Shah Jehan built it in between 1632 to 1648; as a Mausoleum for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. In fact Taj Mahal is a complex of many structures made of rare Makrana marble mined from Rajasthan. The accompanying structures include four Minars at each corners (Minars are cylindrical tall structures often associated with Islamic construction), tombs, Mosque, Parleys etc.

The Agra Fort is a massive 2.5 Kilometer structure in red sand-stone built by Akbar in 1565. It was originally built as a military cantonment but the lavish style associated with the Mughals designed it so; that it can excel even palaces. Later Shah Jehan made many additions to it like Diwan i Khas, Diwan i Am, Octagonal Towers etc making it akin to a palace. Shah Jehan used this place for administration as well as hearing public grievances. Jahangir Palace is an associated structure that stands out in grandeur among other locations of Agra Palace built by Akbar for his favorite son Jahangir

Diwan i Khas is an addition made by Shah Jehan where the famous Pea-cock Throne was placed before it was taken to Delhi.

Diwan i Am is made in marble with exquisite floral motifs was used as a place where the Emperor addressed public grievances.

Octagonal Towers was built by Shah Jehan and it was in this place Shah Jehan spent his last days from where he could see Taj Mahal, it is said that in his sun-set time he used to shed tears simply by staring at Taj (Shah Jehan was a virtual prisoner of his own son).

Sheesh Mahal is also is a delight for the visitors among many other sights in this Fort of historical importance.

Fatehpur Sikri built by Akbar in 1571 is just 37 kilometers from Agra was originally built as the capital of the Mughal Empire, the fort made of red sand-stone, administrative complexes, residential facilities all were built but the town-ship could not sustain as water was scarce and the entire complex was later discarded and the capital changed to Lahore.

Fatehpur Sikri is now a ghost town; a complex for tourists to visit and see the remnants of what used to be palaces, residential complexes and the Fort that has not undergone any damages. The sunset over the remnants of this ghost town is so graceful that people watch it with awe.

Diwan i Khana (treasury), Diwan i Khas (where Akbar’s throne was placed), Diwan i Am (place for public audience) etc are of places that evokes memory of a bygone era.

Akber’s Tomb is only 4 km from Agra its construction is an assimilation of Indian, Jain, Persian and Christian architectures (Akbar was well known for his religious tolerance and he promoted a religion by name ‘Din Ilahi’ assimilating the cultures of all religions but it did not succeed). The unusual thing with it is that its work was started none other than Akber himself.

Soami Bagh Samadh in Dayal Bagh is a tall structure for the memory of Swamiji Soami Maharaj the promoter of Radha Soami faith which had many followers.

Itmad Ud Daula’s Tomb was built by Nur Jahan for her father Ghias ud Din Beigh her father.

Mariam’s Tomb is the mausoleum of Akbar’s Christian wife Mariam.

Ram bagh, Chini ka Rauza, Jama Masjid etc are all of historical importance and worth seeing. A family determined to cover all locations in Agra will have to take weeks to fulfill their wish.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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