Amazing Agra, immortalized as the ‘City of the Taj’, is the most sought after tourist destination of India. The present city is said to be founded by Raja Badal Singh around 1475. It became the capital of the Lodhi’s and later came under the Mughals, when Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodhi in 1526 and established Mughal Empire in India.
Agra witnessed a frenzy of building activity during the 16th and 17th centuries, under the reigns of Akbar, his son Jehangir and grandson Shah Jahan. Magnificent forts, palaces, gardens and mausoleums were built, of these the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort and Akbar’s abandoned capital of Fatehpur Sikri.
The pomp and pageantry of Agra during this time was unrivalled and the city metamorphosed into one of the great centers of art, culture, learning and commerce.
Taj Mahal, the most photographed mausoleum, the pinnacle of the tourism map of India. Rightly enough, the taj has found its place immediately after the Seven Wonders of the World. The entire Mughal architecture and sculpture flourished around Agra in the past.
Taj Mahotsav, the latest attraction of Agra, is a 10 day long cultural event from Feb 18 to Feb 27. The Sardotsav in October is another big event in Fatehpur Sikri and Agra Fort. Agra is also famous for its Id and Tazia procession.
Agra is the quintessential Mughal City, where the world marvels at the epitome of love, beauty and sacrifice - The Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world. So overwhelming is the magic monument, that Agra has been immortalized, as the City of the Taj.
Best Places to visit in Agra
The Taj, A timeless creation of Shahjahan, is a great tower of love built on the mausoleum of Mumtaz, the beloved begum of the emperor.
The fort was built in red sandstone during 1565-73 by Akbar on the relics of the Rajput and Suri forts on the western banks of Yamuna.
Akbar was perhaps the longest serving ruler during the Mughal rule in India. Akbar started building his mausoleum, which is a typical Timurid tradition during his lifetime.
Jahangir Mahal at the entrance is a combination of Hindu and Central Asian architectural styles. It was built in 1570.
A five storeyed Persian architecture that resembles a Buddhist monastery. Each storey is narrower than the lower one for easy flow of air during summer.
Musammam Burj or the Octagonal Tower – a two-storey palace was built by Shahjahan for Mumtaz. It is bedecked with precious jewels.
Diwan-I-Khas (hall of private audience) built between 1636 and 1637, was for the emperor’s private appointments. The famed Mayur Simhasna was placed in Diwan-I-Khas.
Opposite to the Mussaman Burj and just below the Diwan-i-Khas hall, at the northeastern end of the Khas Mahal courtyard is the Sheesh Mahal or the Glass Palace.
Chini-Ka-Rauja is the mausoleum of ShahJahan’s poet chief minister Afzal Khan and his wife. Afzal Khan died in Lahore in 1639.
The famous Mughal garden was built by Babar during 1526-30. It was known as Arambagh in the past. Babar’s body was laid here for some time before being taken to Kabul.
The huge Diwan-I-Aam, built of wood, in the past, is at the centre of the Fort. It was given a completely different look by Shahjahan during 1627-34.
Buland Darwaza built in 1573 as a memorial to the emperor’s conquest of Gujarat. It is one of the biggest doors in the world.
Sikandra, a mausoleum of Akbar, 10 km from Agra. Main building has five beautiful storeys and is surrounded by a big garden
Summers are very hot and winters chilling cold. The temperature difference between the summers and winters is very high. The monsoon although provides some respite from the heat but the rains leaves the city very dirty. It is better to plan your Agra trip between the months of March and October.