Agra Tour - Mahendra India Travel
Agra is one of the famous city of India not only because the city has an excellent cultural background but houses the world renowned Taj Mahal. Located about 204 km south of Delhi, Agra is the city of tombs and memorials. Famous for its Taj Mahotsav (Taj Festival, Agra is bustling with tourist in the month of February every year as thousands of tourists throng to it from all over the world. The Taj Mahotsav brings traditional Indian music and dance on a single platform for tourists to enjoy.
Much of the city's impressive past lives in evidence even today, in the hunting presence inside the monuments, the majesty of the buildings, the exquisite arts and crafts and not to forget, the lure of an exceptional cuisine… all, cherished as priceless legacies of a nostalgic past. The older city of Agra has impressively retained much of its resplendent history… captivating every visitor with fond memories to take back home. Today, luxury and modern convenience also exist adjacent to tradition - luxury hotels, shopping malls and plazas, wide avenues and a superb choice of venues for recreation, business, sports, pleasure, education and the arts.
Taj Mahal: A marble wonder, poetry in stone, a tear drop on the cheek of time, Shah Jahan's muse…different people have described the Taj Mahal in different ways. But no word or phrase can capture the essence and beauty of the Taj Mahal completely.
Built by Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, Taj Mahal attracts people from far and near. The city of the Taj, Agra witnesses continuous flow of tourist throughout the year. Visiting Taj Mahal is like a ritual for most foreign tourists, who hit the Golden Triangle tourist circuit as soon as they land in New Delhi, the capital of India. More About Taj Mahal
Agra Fort: Besides the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort is another wonderful monument that is a must visit on your tour of Agra. Unlike the Taj Mahal, which was built by one Mughal ruler, the Agra Fort saw continuous addition to its structure. The Agra Fort was started by Akbar (1556-1605) but the construction was continued during the rule of his son Jehangir and his grand son Shah Jahan. However most buildings inside the fort was built during the reign of Shah Jahan.
The Agra Fort is situated on the bank of river Yamuna. The Agra Fort is built in red stone and it stretches almost two kilometres on the bank of the Yamuna. The 69 ft high wall encircles the crescent shaped Agra Fort. The Agra Fort has two main gates, which is proof of its impregnable stature. The two gates of the Agra Fort are the Delhi gate and the Amar Singh Gate.
The Agra Fort houses a number of mosques and palaces. Most of the mosques and palaces inside the Agra Fort are built in red stone and white marble. Some of the wonderful monuments that you can visit inside the Agra Fort on your tour of Agra include Khas Mahal, Jehangiri Mahal, Musamman Burj, Moti Masjid, Sheesh Mahal, and Nagina Masjid.
Itmad-ud-daulah Tomb: The tomb of Itmad-ud-daulah in Agra is believed to have inspired the design of the Taj Mahal. The tomb Itmad-ud-daulah was built much earlier then the Taj Mahal. The tomb was built by Nur Jahan, wife of Jehangir for her father Mirza Ghiyas-ud-din or Ghiyas Beg.
The life of Ghiyas-ud-din Beg makes an interesting read. Ghiyas-ud-din Beg was a poor merchant from Persia (now Iran). On his way to India, his wife gave birth to a baby girl. Since he was extremely poor, he decided to abandon the baby. However wails of the baby made them to take her back. The baby brought good fortune to Ghiyas Beg, who found a caravan that took him to the court of the Mughal emperor Akbar. As time passed, Ghiyas Beg became the chief minister during the reign of Jehangir. He was honoured with the title of Itmad-ud-daulah, which means 'Pillar of the State'.
His daughter grew up to be a beautiful lady and was married off. But her husband died soon after her marriage and she came back to her father in the court of Jehangir. Jehangir fell in love with her and married and she was known as Nur Jahan. Ghiyas Beg died in 1622 and Nur Jahan decided to build a mausoleum for her father. The tomb of Itmad-ud-daulah is built entirely in white marble.
Fatehpur Sikri: No tour to Agra is complete without touring Fatehpur Sikri. Once the capital of the Mughal emperor Akbar, Fathepur Sikri is also known as the ghost city. The city was built by Akbar between 1571 and 1584. The city of Fatehpur Sikri is built in red stone and is famous for its architectural brilliance. Fatehpur Sikri is included in the Unesco's world heritage site.
Though the city is built in Islamic architectural style, the columns, brackets, arches and the palaces are influenced by the architecture style of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The traces of Christian style of architecture are also visible in several places at Fatehpur Sikri. It took Akbar 15 years to complete the city of his dreams.
There are a number of beautiful buildings at the complex that reflect the ingenuity and architectural sense of Akbar. The Diwa-I-Aam or the hall of public audience was the place where Akbar used to preside over the court. The hall of public audience is enclosed by a series of arcades. Diwan-I-Khas or the hall of private audience is the venue where Akbar used to held serious discussion on religion with Imams, pundits, and Christian missionaries.
The Panch Mahal or the five-tired palace is one of the remarkable buildings in the complex. As you move up the five storied pavilion the size and number of pillars decreases while the size of floor increases. The Jami Masjid is another remarkable building at Fatehpur Sikri, which is considered as one of the largest mosques in India. The Buland Darwaza or the Victory Gate, which Akbar constructed after his victory in Gujarat, is a wonderful work of the Mughal architecture. The tomb of the saint Salim Chisti is a must visit at the complex.
A tour of Fatehpur Sikri gives an interesting insight to the working style of Akbar. One gets a clear idea about his way of functioning, policies, his outlook towards religions and the propagation of Din-I-Ilahi. Fatehpur Sikri is located about 40 kilometres from Agra and most tourists make it a point to visit the capital city of Akbar.
Akbar's Tomb: 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. But before he could complete the mausoleum he died. His son Jehangir completed the construction of the mausoleum. Jehangir pulled down most of the earlier structures, which Akbar had built and re-designed the mausoleum.
Akbar's tomb is located in Sikandra, which is about four kilometres from Agra. The architecture of the tomb has been inspired from the architecture of Fatehpur Sikri. The gateway is designed like the Buland Darwaza in Fatehpur Sikri, which leads to the enclosed garden. The gateway is beautifully decorated with large mosaic engraving that look beautiful. The minarets on the gateway further accentuate the beauty of the mausoleum. The calligraphic work on the tomb is another hallmark of the monument.
Jehangiri Mahal: This is the first notable building as one enters through the Amar Singh Gate and emerges out of the passage. Situated north of the gate at the end of a spacious lawn, the Jehangir's palace was built by Akbar as a residence for his son Jehangir. The largest private residence in the fort, it is a blend of Hindu and Central Asian architectural styles. The Mahal is reached through an impressive gateway and its inner courtyard consists of a two storey facade of beautiful halls, profuse carvings on stone, heavy brackets exquisitely carved with animal and floral motifs, piers and cross beams with remnants of the rich gilded decorations which once covered much of the structure. There is a verandah with slender pillars on the eastern front facing the river front. This is the most important building remaining from Akbars period as his successors demolished several of Akbar's red sand structures replacing them with marble one's. To the right of Jahangiri Mahal is a simple palace of Akbar's favourite queen Jodha Bai.
Khas Mahal: Built entirely of marble by Shah Jahan in 1637, the Khas Mahal or the Private Palace demonstrates distinctive Islamic-Persian features. The enclosure has three pavilions overlooking the Yamuna, with a fountain opposite the central pavilion. The central pavilion an airy edifice, used by the emperor as a sleeping chamber has three arches on each side, five in front, and two turrets rising out of the roof. It overlooks the Angoori Bagh (grape garden). The Mahal is flanked by two golden (copper) pavilions, one with white marble and was supposedly decorated with gold leaf, while the other is made with red stone, which were meant for the prominent ladies of the harem. The Khaas Mahal provides the most successful example of painting on a white marble surface.
On the three sides of the Grape garden are residential quarters of women.
Musamman Burj: On the left of the Khas Mahal is the Musamman Burj, an octagonal tower with an open pavilion build by Shahjahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is made of delicate marble lattices with ornamental niches for the ladies of the court to gaze out, unseen. The chamber with a marble dome on top, is surrounded by a verandah with a beautiful carved fountain in the center. The tower looks out over the River Yamuna and is traditionally considered to have one of the most poignant views of the Taj. This is where Shah Jahan spent his last few years as a captive of his son Aurangazeb and where he lay on his death bed, gazing at the Taj.
Diwani-i-Khas: Diwan-I-Khas (hall of private audience) built by Shahjahan in 1636–37 was used to receive kings, dignitaries and ambassadors. It is a three sided pavilion with a terrace of fine proportions. Outside the structure is the marble throne terrace, where a pair of thrones were kept. The black throne belonged to Jehangir. Presently, entry is not allowed inside Diwan-i-Khas.
Sheesh Mahal: 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. It is believed to have been the royal dressing room and its walls are inlaid with tiny mirrors, one of the best specimens of glass-mosaic decoration in India. The Sheesh Mahal is composed of two large halls of equal size, each measuring 11.15m x 6.40 m. Both are connected in the centre by a broad arched opening and on the sides by two narrow passages.
Macchhi Bhawan: Opposite to the Diwan-i-Khas is the Macchhi Bhawan, a grand enclosure meant for harem functions. The emperor sat on the white marble platform of the Diwani-i-Khas facing this courtyard. It once contained pools and marble fountains which were carried off by Jat Raja Surajmal to his palace at Deeg. On another side stands a small mosque built for Shahjahan by his son Aurangzeb.
Hammam-i-Shahi: To the right of Diwan-i-khas is the Hammam-i-Shahi or the Shah Burj. It is an airy apartment, attached to the residential quarters which was used as a summer retreat.
Diwan-i-Am: The Hall of Public Audiences, made of red sandstone, was constructed by Shahjahan. It is here the emperor met officials and commoners and listened to the petitioners. The women of the palace could watch the court without being seen by others from the pavilion through jali (lattice) screens. The open sided, cusped arched hall (64x23m) built of plaster on red stone, is very impressive. The throne alcove of richly decorated white marble completed after 7 years work in 1634 was used to house the famous Peacock Throne, later shifted to Delhi by Aurangazeb and was finally carried away to Iran.
The Nagina Masjid or the gem mosque is a private mosque raised by Shah Jahan with typical cusped arches for ladies of the court. There is Mina bazar for the royal ladies to buy things from the marble balcony beneath the Nagina Masjid.
The Moti Masjid near the Nagina Masjid is a perfectly proportioned pearl mosque built in white marble. This grand mosque has three domes in white marble raising their heads over the red sandstone wall.
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.
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