Agra - Taj Mahal

Agra - Taj Mahal



Agra - Taj Mahal

Agra, a name synonymous with the  Taj Mahal, is the city that holds one of the most splendid monuments ever built. A golden dot on the map of Uttar Pradesh, Agra completes the face of  India. It is a city with a rustic charm, a center of art, culture, and learning.  Majestic buildings of historical importance, flourishing arts and crafts and the delicious Mughal cuisine make Agra a top-notch tourist attraction in India.  About 200 kilometers south to New Delhi, the national capital, it is a place that can give you a hundred overwhelming memories.

The history of Agra largely reflects the Mughal monarchy. It is a lively and bounty civilization in itself,  with the cultural and religious influence inherited from time. Much is said about Agra’s roots but it is generally accepted that Agra was founded by Sultan  Sikandar Lodi in the year 1504. He was ably succeeded by his son Ibrahim Lodi until he finally fell to Babar in the Battle of Panipat in 1526. It was the beginning of the Mughal supremacy and golden time in the history of Agra. It remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under the Emperors- Akbar, Jehangir, and Shahjahan. Babar was the one to lay the foundation of a formal Persian garden on the banks of river Yamuna. Architectural marvels were added by Akbar,  his grandson, in the form of the Red Fort and a religious city Fatehpur Sikri in the outskirts of Agra, which was then called as Akbarabad. But it was  Shahjahan, Akbar’s grandson who gave Agra the Taj Mahal, a mausoleum that built in the loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is this monument that can enchant you just in a glance.

The Taj Mahal is known as the epitome of love and a monument that represents the glory of Mughal architecture beyond limits. It is called the Jewel of the Muslim art in India. The construction of the Taj Mahal began in the year 1632 and in a period of 22 years it was completed. Thousands of craftsmen and artisans were employed who worked under the supervision of regal architects. The entire monument is built in detailed symmetry and eternal design.

The marble tomb is the centre of  attraction of the Taj and is topped by a large dome and a finial. The tomb is  surrounded by minarets that incline outwards to protect the main tomb from damage  in case of a collapse. Inside this tomb, the sarcophagus of Mumtaz Mahal rests  in peace beside that of Shahjahan. Ismail Afandi was the architect of the main  tomb. He was a Turkish designer of the Ottoman Empire. The exterior of the Taj  has been decorated with quotes from the Quran inscribed calligraphically. This  trend has been used throughout the complex as decoration. The interior of the Taj was decorated with  gems and semi precious stones. The glistening white marble was transported from  Makrana, Rajasthan, the jade and crystals from China while the jasper from  Punjab. Precious stones were imported from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Tibet and  Arabia. There are other mausoleums of Shahjahan’s other wives and Mughal  mosques in the premise. They are mostly made of red stone and are built in the  typical Mughal style. The Mughal gardens surrounding the complex add up to the  beauty. The Taj is open to the public from 6 A.M to 7 P.M but remains closed on  Fridays.

The Agra Fort is another  magnificent building in Agra. Spanning an area of 94 acres, the fort is  surrounded by seventy feet tall walls. The construction of the fort was  undertaken by Akbar. The fort had been laid out in a proportionate, semi  circular plan. There is a moat about the fort. To reach the mainland a wooden  drawbridge was used. Four gates were constructed on the four sides of the fort  and they lead into its premise. The Delhi gate is the grandest of the four. The  inlay work has been done exclusively in white marble and is yet another proof of  royal Mughal architecture. However, it is not open to the public due to  security reasons. This masterpiece was built during the time of Akbar and kept  the fort secured. Aurangzeb, Shahjahans son, imprisoned him in this fort until  Shahjahans death. Aurangzeb had Shahjahan buried beside his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal in the Taj Mahal.

The fort has many spots that  attract a tourists attention. The Diwan-i-Khas and the Diwan-i-Aam,  the Anguri  Bagh (grape garden), the Jehangir Mahal, the Rang  Mahal, the Khas Mahal and the Sheesh Mahal are some of the main attractions. The interesting mix of the Hindu and Muslim architecture makes it  a unique example of culture influences.

Agra also offers other worth visiting tourist destinations like Sikandra, Itmad-ud-Dauha’s tomb, the Jama  Masjid, and the Mehtab Bagh. Emperor Akbar’s tomb is situated at Sikandra. The construction of the tomb was started by Akbar but completed by his son Jehangir. The Itmad-ud-Dauha tomb was constructed by Jehangir’s wife, Nur Jahan, in the memory of her father. It is also called as the baby Taj. Jama Masjid is a gigantic mosque which is famous due to its unusual dome and the absence of minarets. Mehtab Bagh is a botanical garden that offers a spectacular views of the Taj, away from the ruckus of the city. But it is wise to stay alert because touts can create a problem for newcomers.

If you plan a visit to Agra in  February, you are likely to have a good experience as the Taj Mahotsav  (festival) is hosted every year in mid of February. It is a ten-day festival which is held near the Taj and is an engaging event. When in Agra, do not forget to taste the Chaat (spicy snack of different types), Agras famous Petha (sweet), and Dal Moth (a spicy mix of lentils). The Petha and Dal Moth are the most popular souvenirs.  Leather goods, stone products, and jewelry are other specialties of Agra.  Bargain hard and buy smartly! It is amusing to shop in Agra as you can buy a lot of things at reasonable prices if you are good at bargaining.

 Agra is a  pleasing destination, a complete parcel of fun, excitement, and most of all,  beauty!

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