Badal Singh established the city of Taj in 1475. Agra finds mention in the Mahabharata as Agraban. This city in those days was considered to be the sister city of Mathura that was more prominent than Agraban. Agra came into its own when the Lodhi Kings chose this place beside the Yamuna to be their capital city. Sikander Lodhi made Agra his capital but Babar defeated the Lodhis to capture not only Agra but also laid the foundation of the Mughal Empire. The coming of Babar heralded a new era that was to see Agra at its zenith during the reign of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. It was during Akbar's period that Agra became the center of art, culture and commerce and learning. This trend reached its height when Shah Jahan became the ruler. In the mid 16th century and earlier 17th century Agra witnessed a frenzied building activity and it was during this time when the symbol of love Taj Mahal was built. The buildings made during this era were purely in the contemporary Mughal style and of very high quality which is still reflected in what ever monuments remain in Agra.The narrow lanes of Agra filled with aroma of Mughlai cuisine, the craftsman who are busy in crating master pieces with their skill all remind of the Mughal royalty which this city had once experienced. Today whatever remains, has become a major tourist attraction, which has taken Agra again to the heights of glory but this time as a major tourist destination of India.
Location: 58-km From Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
Founded By: Badal Singh
Established In: 1475
Main Attractions: Taj Mahal, Agra Fort
Taj Mahal: Even as the world is caught in the skirmishes of War & peace, Nuclear and Non-Nuclear; Taj has stood as the epitome of love. This extravagant monument of love is one of the most visited and most photographed places in the world. Shah Jahan built Taj Mahal in the memory of his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal was the culmination point of Indo-Persian architecture. The Mughals Emperor was always fond of constructing monuments. Perhaps they knew that they would be gone but these structures will remind the world of their grandeur. Shah Jahan was particularly fond of building. He built the city of Shah Jahanabad, which today is called the old Delhi. He loved construction more than that he loved his wife. Mumtaz Mahal as the name indicates, her beauty is compared with the light of heaven. She died while giving birth to her fourteenth child. Shah Jahan was so shocked by her death that his hair turned Grey over night.
Agra Red Fort: Built principally as a military establishment by Akbar in 1565, the red sandstone Agra fort was partially converted into a palace during Shah Jahan's time. Though Akbar built the principle structure his grandsons made many more additions.
Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb: This tomb belongs to the father of Nur Jahan, Ghias-ud-Din Beg. He was the Wajir or the Chief Minister of Emperor Jehangir. Nur Jahan built this white marble tomb between 1622 and 1628. The tomb may not be as mammoth as the Taj but the inlay designs and carvings are no less than Taj if not more. The delicate marble latticework in the passages allows the light to enter the interiors. Nur Jahan for Jehangir in Lahore built a similar tomb. This tomb was the first complete marble Mogul structure.
Chini-Ka-Rauza: A tomb of glazed tiles is a memorial dedicated to poet-scholar and later the Prime Minister of Shah Jahan, Allama Afzel Khal Mullah Shukrullah of Shiraz.
Jama Masjid Or Jami Masjid: Built by Shah Jahan in 1648, the main gate of this mosque has inscription written on it that Jahanara Begum built it. She was the favorite daughter of Shah Jahan and was imprisoned with him. The absence of minarets and the shape of the dome give sit a distinguished character.
Sikandra: Four kilometer from Agra is the mausoleum of Akbar. Akbar himself started construction of this beautiful monument . This structure has a perfect blending of Hindu, Christian , Islamic, Buddhist, and Jain motifs.
Mariyam Tomb: This tomb is dedicated to the wife of Akbar. The red sand stone tomb was built in 1611 and is on the Delhi- Agra highway. The carvings on the tomb of Mariyam-us-Zamani are worth giving a closer look.
Fatehpur Sikri: 37 kms from Agra is built a city predominantly in Red Sandstone called Fatehpur Sikri. The Mughal Emperor Akbar built this town. He had planned this city as his capital but shortage of water compelled him to abandon the city and within 20 years the capital of Mughals was shifted to Lahore. Fatehpur Sikri was built during 1571 and 1585.
Ram Bagh: When Babur came to India he laid the first Mughal gardens 500 m North of the Chini Ka Rauza. This well laid gardens are not even a fraction of what they used to be. It will need lots of imagination to picture how these gardens must have looked in 1558.
Mathura: Krishna, one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu was born here. Mathura, which is one of the major Pilgrimage for the Hindus is 58 Kms from Agra. It comes before Agra if travelling from Delhi. Today the small town of Lord Krishna has grown and the place has a population of almost 3 lakh people.
National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary: The National Chambal Sanctuary, located in Etawah, near Agra is spread over an area of 635 sq. kms.
How to Get There
Air: Agra is one of the hottest tourist destinations in India and all facilities have been provided for the easy access to this place. It has its own airport that connects Agra with all the major places in India. The Agra airport or the Kheria airport has all the major domestic airlines having their services to this place of the Taj.
Rail: Agra is a major railway station with almost all the trains to south India, Mumbai and many trains to Calcutta stopping here. The “Palace visits the city on Wheels" .The Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains have also their stoppage in Agra. The city is well connected by trains to almost every corner of the nation.
Road: Agra has the National Highway Numbers 2, 3, and 11 passing through it. So the premier tourist destination of India is also well linked by bus services to other places in the State as well as outside the state. The state transports have deluxe as well as ordinary bus services for the place. There are conducted tours which take tourist not only to Agra, but the near by tourist spots too.
Places to Stay
Agra is one of the major tourist destination, where international tourist inflow is also quite good. So the options of luxurious accommodations are plenty. If you are a budget travelers, there are numerous tourist lodges as well mid-range hotels too.