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.
As visitors walk down the narrow bustling streets, they can not help but wonder, if the man contentedly smoking a hookah, is a direct descendent of some bygone Mughal. Even the most modern areas of the town, such as the cantonment, dates back over a hundred years.
Agra finds mention in the Mahabharata, as Agra ban. This city of the Taj, was established in 1475, by Badal Singh, but came into its own when Sikander Lodi, chose it as his capital, but was eventually defeated by Babur, who laid the foundation of the Mughal empire.
Agra reached its zenith during the reign of the Mughal Empire, to become the center of art, culture, commerce and learning. By mid 16th and the earlier 17th century, Agra witnessed a frenzied building activity purely in the contemporary Mughal style, and it was during this time, when the symbol of love, The Taj-Mahal was built.
Agra has witnessed the rise of the pomp and pageantry of the Mughal Monarchs, who lavished on this fabled city, their love and riches, bringing a change in the culture and life-style among the people.
Agra is one of the most important centers for handicrafts, made of marble and soft stone inlay work. Major handicraft products of Agra, besides inlay work are leatherwear, brassware, carpets, jeweler and embroidery work. The major languages spoken here are Hindi, Urdu and English.
Agra is the home of Mughlai-khaana, where the Persian kings courted Indian spices and the traditional barbecue meats changed colour and flavour forever. Kebabs and gravies turned bolder with the addition of red chillies, garam masalas, exotic aromatics and rose petals.
The kebabs, pulaos and kheer and petha are all must eats. You must, however, be selective about where you dine, as there is a surprising shortage of authentic restaurants. Too many places have latched onto the gravy train and you might find that the paneer, chicken and meat float in the same flavour of red.
Some of the better restaurants in Agra are Peshawari on M G Road, which serves some of the best Mughlai food in town at some amazingly reasonable prices. The Only Restaurant on Taj Road is a multi-cuisine place that serves Mughlai, Indian, Continental and Chinese food. Petals on Gopi Chand Shivare Road in Sadar Bazaar has some mouth-watering chicken.
Agra gets tourists right through the year and people who visit Agra have a variety of shopping complexes to visit! Kohinoor has a fabulous collection of jewellery. It?s also much visited for its marble and inlay work in bright and dynamic colours.
Agra also offers semi-precious stone jewellery that is typical of the ornate Moghul style. Catch up with all this and more at the Handikrafts Inn . Agra is also known for leather items including shoes, sandals and belts. Get yourself handicrafts and musical instruments from the Handicrafts Gallery at Jasoria Enclave, Paintings and silk embroidered items are great buys too.
Situated just 203 km from Delhi, Agra is within easy driving reach of Jaipur (235 km) as well.
IA operates a daily hopping flight on the Delhi-Agra-Varanasi-Khajuraho sector. Airport: Kheria Airport, located 7 km from the city centre.
The Shatabdi and Taj Express from New Delhi are amongst the more convenient trains to Agra. Other trains connecting Agra to important cities include the Udyan Abha Toofan Express, Nizamuddin Intercity Express, Kerala Express, Ahmedabad-Gorakhpur Express and Punjab Mail. Railway station: The city has many railway stations but the main are the Raja ki Mandi and Agra Cantt stations.
Good motorable roads. Takes about four hours to drive down to Agra from Delhi.
Agra is sweltering hot in the summers, with temperatures ranging between 22? C and 42? C. In the winters, the temperatures range between 4.2? C and 29? C."
Taj Mahal is one of the wonders of the world and the epitome of love, beauty and sacrifice. Built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his queen, Mumtaz Mahal, its construction is believed to have taken 22 years to complete with over 20,000 craftsmen working round the clock. Even as the world is caught in the skirmishes of War and peace, Nuclear and Non-Nuclear, Taj has stood as the epitome of love. One of the most visited and most photographed places in the world, this extravagant monument of love is the culmination point of Indo-Persian architecture.
Agra Fort is situated in the center of the town. 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.
It is situated across the Yamuna, about 4 km away; it houses the tomb of Emperor Akbar. An interesting feature here is that one cannot see all the four minarets situated here from one point - one of them is always behind the other in the viewer's line of vision.
It was Situated opposite the Taj-Mahal on the other side of the River Yamuna, Itmad-ud-Duala houses a magnificent mausoleum of Ghias Beg, father of Noor-Jehan and the Chief Minister of Emperor Jehangir. This white marble tomb and the first complete marble Mogul structure 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. Nor-Jahan built a similar tomb for Jehangir in Lahore.
It was built by the Great emperor of Akbar for his favorite son Jehangir to provide him with the comfort and luxury inside the fort. This palace displays an excellent combination of Hindu and Muslim architecture.
Dayal Bagh is the birthplace of the Radhaswami sect, which was founded by a banker of Agra, Swami Shiv Dayal, in 1861. It is a place of pilgrimage for members of this sect and a temple is built here in honor of their fourth Guru.
This deserted city lies along the top of a ridge. This new capital of Akbar had to be abandoned, only 14 years after it was created, due to lack of water. But the splendid palaces and mosques remain as a vanquished dream. However, this ghost city, is worth a view for its buildings, and can be classified into religious, secular and architectural wonders. The latticework of Jama Masjid and the Dargah of Sheikh Salim Christi are among the finest in India. The Bias Palace, Birbals House, Mariams House, Panch Mahal, Shahi Darwaza and the Buland Darwaza definitely deserve a visit.
CHINI - KA - RAUZA - A tomb of glazed tiles, the Chini-Ka-Rauza is a memorial dedicated to poet-scholar and later the Prime Minister of Shah -Jahan, Allama Afzel Khal Mullah Shukrullah of Shiraz. It is located 1 km north of the Itimad-ud-daula.
JAMA-MASJID-AGRA - Built by Shah Jahan in 1648, the main gate of this mosque has an inscription mentioning it as built by Jahanara Begum. She was the favorite daughter of Shah Jahan and was imprisoned with him.
RAM BAGH - When Babur came to India he laid the first Mughal gardens 500m North of the Chini Ka Rauza. These well-laid gardens are not even a fraction of what they used to be.
FIROZABAD - 44 km away from Agra, it is an important handicraft and industrial center famous for glassware, especially glass bangles and cut glass items. MARIYAM TOMB - The red sand stone tomb was built in 1611 and is dedicated to the wife of Akbar. The carvings on the tomb of Mariyam-us-Zamani are worth giving a closer look.
SUR SAROVAR (KEETHAM LAKE) - It is situated within Surdas Reserved Forest is this scenic lake, ideal for relaxed outings. A wide variety of fishes and water birds add to the lakes natural charm and beauty. VAN VIHAR WILDLIFE SANCTUIARY - It is situated 50 km from Agra, it spreads over an area of 52 square km and harbors many species of animals and birds. It can be approached from Agra by taxi or bus or by train up to Dholpur.