About The Attraction
Agra is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is 378 kilometres (235 mi) west of the state capital, Lucknow, 206 kilometres (128 mi) south of the national capital New Delhi and 125 kilometres (78 mi) north of Gwalior. Agra is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh, and the 24th most populous in India.
Agra is a major tourist destination because of its many Mughal-era buildings, most notably the T?j Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehp?r Sikr?, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Agra is included on the Golden Triangle tourist circuit, along with Delhi and Jaipur; and the Uttar Pradesh Heritage Arc, tourist circuit of UP state, along Lucknow the capital of the state and Varanasi. Agra falls within the Braj cultural region.
However, the 11th century Persian poet Mas'?d Sa'd Salm?n writes of a desperate assault on the fortress of Agra, then held by the Sh?h? King Jayapala, by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. It was mentioned for the first time in 1080 AD when a Ghaznavide force captured it. Sultan Sikandar Lod? (1488–1517) was the first to move his capital from Delhi to Agra in 1506. He governed the country from here and Agra assumed the importance of the second capital. He died in 1517 and his son, Ibr?h?m Lod?, remained in power there for nine more years and several palaces, wells and a mosque were built by him in the fort during his period. Finally being defeated at the Battle of Panipat in 1526. Between 1540 and 1556, Afghans, beginning with Sher Shah Suri ruled the area. It was the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1658.
Agra features a semiarid climate that borders on a humid subtropical climate. The city features mild winters, hot and dry summers and a monsoon season. However the monsoons, though substantial in Agra, are not quite as heavy as the monsoon in other parts of India. This is a primary factor in Agra featuring a semiarid climate as opposed to a humid subtropical climate.
It is generally accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lod?, the Muslim ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, founded Agra in the year 1504. After the Sultan's death, the city passed on to his son, Sultan Ibr?h?m Lod?. He ruled his Sultanate from Agra until he fell fighting to Mughal Badshah (emperor) B?bar in the First battle of Panipat fought in 1526.
The golden age of the city began with the Mughals. It was known then as Akbarab?d and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under the Badshahs (emperors) Akbar, Jah?ng?r and Sh?h Jah?n. Akbar made it the eponymous seat of one of his original twelve subahs (imperial top-level provinces), bordering (Old) Delhi, Awadh (Oudh), Allahabad, Malwa and Ajmer subahs. Sh?h Jah?n later shifted his capital to Sh?hjah?nab?d in the year 1649.
Since Akbarab?d was one of the most important cities in India under the Mughals, it witnessed a lot of building 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 Ar?m B?gh or the Garden of Relaxation. His grandson Akbar the Great raised the towering ramparts of the Great Red Fort, besides making Agra a centre for learning, arts, commerce and religion. Akbar also built a new city on the outskirts of Akbarab?d called Fatehp?r Sikr?. This city was built in the form of a Mughal military camp in stone.
His son Jah?ng?r had a love of flora and fauna and laid many gardens inside the Red Fort or L?l Qil'a. Sh?h Jah?n, known for his keen interest in architecture, gave Akbarab?d its most prized monument, the T?j Mahal. Built in loving memory of his wife Mumt?z Mahal, the mausoleum was completed in 1653.
Sh?h Jah?n later shifted the capital to Delhi during his reign, but his son Aurangzeb moved the capital back to Akbarab?d, usurping his father and imprisoning him in the Fort there. Akbarab?d 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 was called Agra, before falling into the hands of the British Raj in 1803.
In 1835 when the Presidency of Agra was established by the British, the city became the seat of government, and just two years later it was witness to the Agra famine of 1837–38. During the Indian rebellion of 1857 British rule across India was threatened, news of the rebellion had reached Agra on 11 May and on 30 May two companies of native infantry, the 44th and 67th regiments, rebelled and marched to Delhi. The next morning native Indian troops in Agra were forced to disarm, on 15 June Gwalior (which lies south of Agra) rebelled. By 3 July, the British were forced to withdraw into the fort. Two days later a small British force at Sucheta were defeated and forced to withdraw, this led to a mob sacking the city. However, the rebels moved onto Delhi which allowed the British to restore order by 8 July. Delhi fell to the British in September, the following month rebels who had fled Delhi along with rebels from Central India marched on Agra but were defeated. After this British rule was again secured over the city until the independence of India in 1947.
Agra is the birthplace of the religion known as D?n-i Il?h?, which flourished during the reign of Akbar and also of the Radhaswami Faith, which has around two million followers worldwide. Agra has historic linkages with Shauripur of Jainism and Runukta of Hinduism, of 1000 BC.
The T?j Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Monumental Mughal legacy
The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous buildings in the world, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan's favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, and one of the three World Heritage Sites in Agra. Agra is commonly identified as the "City of Taj".
Completed in 1653, the T?j Mahal was built by the Mughal king Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his beloved wife, Mumt?z Mahal. Finished in marble, it is perhaps India's most beautiful monument and is set amidst landscaped gardens. Built by the Persian architect, Ust?d '?s?, the T?j Mahal is on the south bank of the Yamuna River. It can be observed from Agra Fort from where Emperor Sh?h Jah?n gazed at it for the last eight years of his life, a prisoner of his son Aurangzeb. Verses of the Quran 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 T?j Mahal was built on a marble platform that stands above a sandstone one. The most elegant dome of the T?j 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 Mumt?z Mahal. Shah Jah?n's tomb was erected next to hers by his son Aurangzeb. The interiors are decorated with fine inlay work, incorporating semi-precious stones.
Agra Fort (sometimes called the Red Fort), was commissioned by the conquering Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great 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 Sh?h Jah?n's time, and reworked extensively with marble and pietra dura inlay. Notable buildings in the fort include the Pearl Mosque or Mot? Masjid, the D?w?n-e-'?m and D?w?n-e-Kh?s (halls of public and private audience), Jah?ng?r's Palace, Kh?s Mahal, Sh?sh 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 moat 9 metres (30 ft) wide and 10 metres (33 ft) deep surround the outer wall.
Chhatrapati Sh?vaj? visited the Agra Fort, as a result of the conditions of the Treaty of Purandar entered into with Mirz? R?j? Jaisingh to meet Aurangzeb in the D?w?n-i-Kh?s (Special Audience Chamber). In the audience he was deliberately placed behind men of lower rank. An insulted Sh?vaj? 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.
The fort is a typical example of Mughal architecture, effectively showing how the North Indian style of fort construction differed from that of the South. In the South, the majority of forts were built on the seabed like the one at Bekal in Kerala.
The Mughal Emperor Akbar built Fatehp?r Sikr? about 35 km (22 mi) 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 B?bar defeated R??? S?ng? in a battle at a place called Sikr? (about 40 km (25 mi) from Agra). Then the Mughal Emperor Akbar wanted to make Fatehp?r Sikr? his headquarters, so he built a majestic fort; due to shortage of water, however, he had to ultimately move his headquarters to Agra Fort.
Buland Darw?za or 'the lofty gateway' was built by the great Mughal emperor, Akbar in 1601 CE. at Fatehp?r Sikr?. Akbar built the Buland Darw?za to commemorate his victory over Gujarat. The Buland Darw?za is approached by 52 steps. The Buland Darw?za is 53.63 metres (175.95 feet) high and 35 metres (115 feet) 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 Darw?za demonstrates Akbar's religious broadmindedness; it is a message from Jesus advising his followers not to consider this world as their permanent home.
The Empress N?r Jah?n built I'tim?d-Ud-Daulah's Tomb, sometimes called the "Baby T?j", for her father, Mirz? Ghiy?s Beg, the Chief Minister of the Emperor Jah?ng?r. 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 area of the mausoleum itself is about 23 m2 (250 sq ft), and is built on a base that is about 50 m2 (540 sq ft) and about one metre (3.3 feet) high. On each corner are hexagonal towers, about thirteen metres (43 feet) 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 T?j Mahal.
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 j?l? screens of intricately carved white marble.
Many of N?r Jah?n's relatives are interred in the mausoleum. The only asymmetrical element of the entire complex are the tombs of her father and mother, which have been set side-by-side, a formation replicated in the Taj Mahal.
Akbar's Tomb, Sikandra
Sikandra, the last resting place of the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great, is on the Delhi-Agra Highway, only 13 kilometres (8.1 miles) 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 Jah?ng?r completed construction of this pyramidal tomb in 1613. The 99 names of Allah have been inscribed on the tomb.
The J?ma 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 cost Rs 5 Lakhs at that time for its completion.
Ch?n? k? Rauza
Notable for its Persian influenced dome of blue glazed tiles, the Ch?n? k? Rauza is dedicated to the Prime Minister of Sh?h Jah?n, 'All?ma Afzal Kh?l Mull? Shukrull?h of Shiraz.
The oldest Mughal garden in India, the R?m B?gh was built by the Emperor B?bar in 1528 on the bank of the Yamuna. It lies about 2.34 km (1 mi) north of the T?j 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 ?r?m B?gh, or 'Garden of Relaxation', and this was where the Mughal emperor B?bar used to spend his leisure time and where he eventually died. His body was kept here for some time before sending it to Kabul.
On Ram Bagh to Tundla road near Etmadpur, there is a famed Yoga Ashram of Mahaprabhu Ramlal ji Maharaja(First Guru Gaddi), Yogeshwar Mulakhraj Ji Maharaja(Second Guru Gaddi) & Yogeshwar DeviDayal Ji Mahadev(Third GuruGaddi) blessed Swami Chandra Mohan Ji Maharaj named Shri Siddha Gufa Sawai. Thousands of devotees and seekers visit this holy place.
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.
Plan of the Taj complex with the Mehtab Bagh gardens to the left
The Meht?b B?gh, or 'Moonlight Garden', is on the opposite bank of the River Yamuna from the T?j Mahal.
Also known as Sur Sarovar, Keetham Lake is situated about 7 kilometres (4.3 miles) from the Akbar tomb in Agra, within the Surdas Reserved Forest. The lake has an impressive variety of aquatic life and water birds.
Mughal Heritage Walk
The Mughal Heritage Walk is a part of community development programme being implemented with support of Agra Municipal corporation, USAID and an NGO; Center for Urban and Regional Excellence. It seeks to build sustainable livelihoods for youth and women from low resource communities and improve their living environments through infrastructure services and integration within the city.
The Mughal Heritage Walk is a one-kilometre (0.62-mile) loop which connects the agricultural fields with the Rajasthani culture, river bank connected with the ancient village of Kuchhpura, the Heritage Structure of Mehtab Bagh, the Mughal aqueduct system, the Humanyun Mosque and the Gyarah Sidi.