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Home  » Top Destinations  » Agra-The City of Taj

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Agra - The City of Taj

Situated in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, just 204 km from the national capital Delhi, Agra is one of the most important historical and ancient cities of India. Popular worldwide for housing the Taj Mahal - the monument of love and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Agra is a small city of Uttar Pradesh, built on the West Bank of the River Yamuna.
Taj Mahal - Agra

History of Agra :
Agra was established in the year 1475 by Raja Badal Singh and after the Lodhi king Sikander Lodhi set up his capital in here it emerged as an important city of India. Later the Mughal ruler Babar occupied the Agra city and set foundation for the establishment of the Mughal rule in India.

Agra developed as a great center of architecture, art and Mughal culture during the Mughal rule, especially under Babar, Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan that Agra, in North India. Numerous forts, buildings and tombs were raised during the 16th century, when the Mughal period reached the acme of glory in Agra, India.

The majestic monuments, breathtaking buildings and continuously prospering arts and crafts including leather work and Pietra dura marble-inlay work accompanied with enticing Mughal cuisine have now become synonymous with the city.

For all this and more Agra, is a must visit city, while you are on India tour. Visit Agra and explore the ancient monuments that are scattered throughout the city and showcases some most captivating examples of Mughal architecture and art.

Famous For - The Taj Mahal :
Built in the mid-1600s by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his mistress Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is one of the most glorious mausoleum built by a man for his love. Later he was buried beside her. This crowning glory of India is absolute in beauty and perfection. There is nothing you can add or delete from white beauty shaped in white marble. The monument love and imagination, Taj Mahal represent India to the world. One most appealing thing of this complete beauty is that it changes its colour through out the day at different time of the day.

Itimad-ud-Daulah - Agra » Taj Mahal - Reflecting the passions of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahal in Agra was built in the mid-1600s as a tomb for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The beauty, balance and peace of this symmetrical, marble masterpiece, from the detail of colored stone inlay arranged into intricate patterns of flowers and Arabic prayer to the perfect symmetry on every tower, make it a stunning and unforgettable monument. Flanking the Taj are two red sandstone mosques, which are also beautifully decorated. Only the western one functions as a mosque - the other faces the wrong way and is there purely for symmetry.

The crowning glory of the Agra is obviously the Taj, (Taj Mahal) a monument of love and imagination, that represents India to the world. Visit at sunrise and sunset and watch the colors and the mood change. The pool that so famously mirrors the image of the Taj Mahal is a favorite for Indian family photographers.

The Taj Mahal looks astounding from across the river (where the exquisite "Baby Taj" is), from Agra rooftops and from every angle. Up close the details continue to amaze - marble screens, minarets... the list goes on. In the middle of his dream lies the Emperor himself, next to the woman who inspired his masterpiece.

Connectivity :
» By Air - Agra is only 30 minutes from Delhi by air. 'Kheria', Agra's airport is 6 km from the city center.

» By Train - Agra has excellent train services from New Delhi. Shatabdi Express, Taj Express and Inter-city Express from Delhi take 2-3 hours to reach Agra and are good options.

» By Road - Many National Highways connect Agra to all major Indian cities and express and air-conditioned bus services are available to and from Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, Gwalior and Jhansi.

Additional Highlights of the City :
» Agra Fort - This 16th century massive fort is a magnificent creation of the Mughals. The for is a testimony to Mughals' power. Built in reed sandstone, the Agra fort encompasses, within its 2.5km enclosure walls, the imperial city of the Mughal rulers. The fort complex comprises many exquisite palaces like the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal, built by Shah Jahan; Diwan-i-Khas; Diwan-i-aam, and Sheesh Mahal (The Mirror Palace). There are also two beautiful mosques including Shah Jahans Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) (sadly currently out-of-bounds).

The Octagonal Tower is an exquisitely carved tower where Shah Jahan spent the last seven years of his life. The tower was considered to provide one of the best views of the Taj but today the pollution has reduced the visibility. The tower, and much of the Agra Fort, is in bad shape but blank spaces and the empty inlay works give an idea of how this building must have looked in its prime.

» Fatehpur Sikri - The deserted city Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of the Mughal Empire between 1570 and 1585. It was built under the personal supervision of the Emperor Akbar; he was childless and, having tried all sorts of solutions to his plight, visited a Sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chishti, for help. Soon a son was born and, impressed and overjoyed, he started building on the site where he had met the saint. However due to a severe shortage of water the city was abandoned after only fifteen years and the capital was relocated back to Agra. As a result Fatehpur Sikri stands untouched and perfectly preserved; a complete medieval fortress of red sandstone, with vast central squares, exquisitely carved multi-tiered pavilions, cool terraces and formal gardens. Fatehpur Sikri is a 25 miles (40km) west of Agra, on the way to Jaipur.

Red Fort - Agra The Festival of Agra :
With the arrival of February, Agra burst into colours. Yes, its time for Taj Mahotsav - the festival of cultural mosaic that brings together the Indian arts, crafts and culture. The Mahotsav (festival) was organised by UP Tourism and held as an annual event in and around Shilpgram (next door to the Taj Mahal), a fitting tribute to the legendary skills of master craftsmen and other exponents of art, music and cuisine. The festival starts with a spectacular procession inspired by Mughal splendour - bedecked elephants, camels and drum beaters included.

Things to Buys in Agra :
Its fun shopping in Agra. Agra has several shopping areas and shopping malls where one can buy the specialties of the place. Agra is known for its leather goods industry. Handmade leather and leather products from Agra is exported the world over. Particularly these items are made by the Agra jail inmates, which after sale give them a decent earning. One can also find leather chappals (sandals), purses, bags, decorative items and many more leather product made by the local artisans. Also get some sandal and rose wood items from the handicraft craft emporiums and shops. The shops also showcases brass decorative pieces and stone carved images. Zari and embroidery work, Stone inlay work and durries are some other buys which you will love doing.

Shopping Areas in Agra :
Taj Mahal complex, Kinari Bazaar, Raja Mandi, Sadar Bazaar, the Gangotri at Taj Mahal Complex and the Up Handlooms, UPICA at the Sanjay place are two UP Government emporiums are the main shopping areas in Agra.

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