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Agra - The Taj Mahal City

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known for: Taj Mahal
Shopping: Famous for its carpets, gold thread embroidery and leather
History of: 600 years approx.
Population: 14 Lac

Agra is famous as being home to one of the Seven Wonders of the world-the Taj Mahal.

The architectural splendour of the mausoleums, the fort and the palaces is vivid reminder of the opulence of the legendary Mughal empire, of which Agra was the capital in the 16th and early 17th centuries. While its significance as a political center ended with the transfer of the capital to Delhi in 1634 by Shah Jahan, its architectural wealth has secured its place on the international map. A pleasant town with a comparatively slow pace, Agra is known for its superb inlay work on marble and soapstone by craftsmen who are descendants of those who worked under the Mughals.

Major Attractions

 

Taj Mahal - The Immortal Signature of Love
There is no other monument in the world, which can match the beauty and grandeur of the Taj Mahal. Set amongst the serene ambience of a well laid out garden, the massive marble structure of the Taj is awe-inspiring. The Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by Shahjahan- the fifth Mughal emperor, in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Shahjahan loved his wife so much that after she passed away in 1631, he decided to immortalize their love in the form of the Taj Mahal. It is more than 350 years and still has its romantic aura intact, which attracts millions of visitors from all part of the world.

Almost all foreign dignitaries coming to India make it a point to visit this enchanting site. The president of USA, Bill Clinton has been one of the most prominent dignitaries to visit this monument in the recent past. "The world is divided between those who have seen the Taj and those who have not. Very soon, I hope to be on the side that has seen the Taj", was how he felt, shortly after landing at Taj Mahal.

Taj Museum
Original drawings available here show the precision with which the architect had planned this monument. He even anticipated that it would be completed in 22 years. Drawings of the interiors show the position of the graves in such precision that the foot of the graves faces the viewer from any angle. Many more such breathtaking collections are here which can also be seen.

The Mosque & The Jawab
To the left of the Taj is a mosque made of red sandstone. It is common in Islam to build a mosque next to a tomb, as it sanctifies the area and provides a place for worship. This mosque is still used for Friday prayers.

An identical mosque is also built to the right of the Taj and is known as the Jawab or answer. Prayers are not held here as it faces west i.e. away from Mecca. the holy city of the Muslims. It was built to maintain symmetry.

Agra Fort
Built by the great Emperor Akbar in 1565 AD the fort is a masterpiece of design and construction. Within the fort are a number of exquisite buildings, including the Moti Masjid, Diwane-E-Am, Diwani-E-Khaas and Musanman Burj, where the Emperor Shah Jahan died while in imprisonment.

The construction of the Agra fort was started around 1565 when the initial structures were built by Akbar. Shah Jahan replaced most of these with his marble creations. Some however survived, among them are- Delhi Gate, Amar Singh Gate, Akbari Mahal and the Jahangiri Mahal.

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 km, and is ringed by double castellated ramparts of red sandstone punctuated at regular intervals by bastions. A 9mt. wide and 10mt.deep moat surrounds the outer wall. An imposing 22mt. high inner wall imparts a feeling of invincible defensive construction. The route through the Amar Singh gate is dog-legged. The layout of the fort was determined by the course of the river, which in those days flowed alongside. The main axis is parallel to the river and the walls bridge out towards the city.

Jahangiri Mahal
This is the first notable building that the visitor sees on his right hand side at the end of a spacious lawn, as one enters through the Amar Singh Gate and emerges out of the passage. It was built by Akbar as women's quarters and is the only building that survives among his original palace buildings. It is built of stone & is simply decorated on the exterior.

The most important feature of the edifice are its ornamental stone brackets which support the beams. In front is a large stone bowl which was probably used to contain fragrant rose water. Ornamental Persian verses have been carved along the outer rim, which record its construction by Jahangir in 1611 AD. This elegant, double storied palace reflects a strong Hindu influence with protruding balconies and domed chhatries.

Jodha Bai's Palace
To the right of Jahangiri Mahal is Akbar's favorite queen Jodha Bai`s Palace. In contrast to other palaces in the fort, it is rather simple. Through the slits in the wall one can see the Taj.

Anguri Bagh
These formal, 85m square, geometric gardens lie to the left of the fort. During Shah Jahan's time the beauty of the gardens was considerably enhanced by decorative flower beds.

Golden Pavilions
The curved chala roofs of the small pavilions by the Khaas Mahal are based on the roof shape of Bengali village huts constructed out of curved bamboo, designed to keep off heavy rain. The shape was first expressed in stone by the Sultans of Bengal. Originally gilded, these were probably ladies' bedrooms, with hiding places for jewellery in the walls. These pavilions are traditionally associated with Shah Jahan's daughters-Roshanara and Jahanara Begum.

 

Nearby Excursions

 

Mathura
Mathura, a little town on the riverbed of Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh state of India is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. There are numerous little spots in the area that still reverberate with the enchantment of Shri Krishna. The town is at a distance of 145 km southeast of Delhi and 58 km northwest of Agra covering an area of about 3,800 sq. km. A long line of picturesque ghats - with their steps leading to the water's edge, arched gateways and temple spires extending along the right bank of the River Yamuna, emphasize the sacred character of the town of Mathura.

Vrindavan
Vrindavana within the jurisdiction of district Mathura is intimately connected with Krishna just like all its surrounding regions. Devotees believe that Lord Krishna never leaves Vrindavana and engage in his pastimes for eternity. It is believed to be one of the transcendental abodes of the Lord as mentioned in 'Srimad Bhagavatam', the religious holy book of Hindus. Mathura and Vrindavan have as many as sixty billion sacred places! The presiding deity of the once forest of Vrindavan was Vrinda Devi, who was believed to be the expansion of Radharani, the beloved of Lord Krishna.

Fun Festives

 

Taj Mahotsav
Much famous and beloved cultural festival of Agra, Taj Mahotsav is organized annually for ten days during February 18-27. Shilpgram (the Crafts Village), the chosen venue for this fair is close to Taj. Here, one can find extensive display of arts, crafts and culture of India along with classical dance and song performances. 'Mushairas' and 'Ghazal' programmes by the well-known Indian artists. Children love to ride on camels and elephants in the vene while one can taste traditional Indian delicacies at the luring stalls here. The colorful celebrations welcome the Spring with a fiesta of Indian cuisine, dance and music, cultural displays and exhibition of arts and crafts.

 

Distance from major cities
Delhi 203 Kms
Jaipur 236 Kms
Alwar 176 Kms

 

How to reach there

by Air Agra Airport is well connected with all major cities of India.
by Rail Agra Railway Station is well connected with Delhi, all major states & cities of India.
by Road NH-2 connects Delhi with Agra and NH-11 connects Agra with Jaipur.

Recommended Restaurants

  • Pinch of Spice, Fatehabad Road, Agra

  • Only Restaurant, Agra

  • Indiana, Agra

  • Sheena, near to Taj

Hotels in Agra

Luxury

Medium

Budget

Amar Vilas

The Gateway

ITC Mughal Sheraton

Trident Hillton

Hotel Grand Imperial

Hotel Mansingh Palace

Hotel Clark Shiraz

Hotel Howard Park Plaza

Hotel Pushp Villa

Hotel Atithi

Hotel Amar

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