Agra Tour Information
Amazing Agra, immortalised 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 witnessed a frenzy of building activity during the 16th and 17th centuries, under the reigns of Akbar, his son Jehangir and grand-son 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, now feature on the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. The pomp and pageantry of Agra during this time was unrivalled and the city metamorphosed into one of the great centres of art, culture, learning and commerce.
Taj, the icon of India was built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Arjumand Bano begum, popularly known as Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1630. This sheer poetry in marble considered by many as the ‘8th wonder of the medieval world; is indeed the most extravagant monument ever made for love. Rabindranath Tagore called it a ‘teardrop glistening on the cheek of time’. A garden laid by Raja Man Singh of Amber, on the banks the river Yammuna was chosen as the site for building the Taj. Its construction started in 1632 and about 20,000 workers toiled for seventeen years to complete the enchanting mausoleum. This image of Islamic garden of paradise is said to have costed nearly 41 million ruppes and 500kgs of gold. A township for the workers was built near the site and was named after the deceased empress – ‘Mumtazabad’, now known as Taj Ganj, Unlike other tombs, the Taj is set on one side of the well laid out gardens measuring 300 * 300 metres, in the form of a quadrangular Charbagh style, with its square lawns separated by pathways, watercourses emanating from the central raised square pool and rows of fountains. It is set on a 6 metres high marble plinth with four minerals at each corner of the plinth, rising to hight41.6 metres and crowned by a chhatri. The minarets are deliberately angled at 88 degrees out wards, so that during any calamity like, an earthquake, the minarets would fall away from the tomb. The plinth is set on a sandstone platform and is flanked by two identical structures at the far end. The structure to the left is a mosque and its jawab or echo on the other side.
The central bulbous dome of the Taj rising to a height of 44.41m rests on an extraordinarily high drum, with four chhattris on the corners. Within the mausoleum is a lofty octagonal central hall and four smaller octagonal halls around it. Just below the dome, in the centre of the main hall is the cenotaph. Both tombs are exquisitely inlaid with semi precious stones. The real tombs lie in the crypt below the central hall and are not for public viewing. The splendid acoustics of the structure are also noteworthy. The Taj is worth more than a single visit as its sublime beauty varies with seasons and of different time of the day. At sunrise the marble acquires a delicate pinkish touch, while in the afternoon it glows in majestic white and in the evenings the colour turns to a soft pearly grey. On full moon nights the glory of the majestic structure is at its best under the soft and subdued moonlight.
Mehtab Bagh or the ‘moon lit garden’
It was built by Shah Jahan on the left bank of Yamuna opposite to the taj. The Horticulture wing of Archaeological Survey of India have developed a Mughal garden of Charbagh pattern, as revealed form the excavations here. A fine view of the Taj can be enjoyed from here.
This mighty Mughal citadel overlooking river Yamuna was built in red sandstone by Akbar between 1565 and 1573. Several additions were made to this architectural wonder by Jehangir and Shah Jahan. The fort has four gates and is enclosed by a double barricaded wall of red sandstone. Some of the excellent buildings within the ramparts of the fort are – Moti Masjid – a white marble mosque, Diwan-e-Am, Dwan-e-Khaas, Musamman Burj where Shahjahan died in 1666, Jahangir’s Palace, Khaas Mahal and Shish Mahal etc.
This exquisite marble tomb set on the opposite bank of the Yamuna from the Taj was built during 1622 to 1628, by Nur Jahan in memory of her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg. It is the first Mughal monument made of marble and the first to use ‘Pietra Dura’ the inlay work on marble.
Radhasoami Samadhi, Dayalbagh
The magnificent marble shrine of Soamiji Maharaj, the founder of Radhasoami sect lies 2 km north of Agra. Its construction started way back in 1904 and is still nowhere near completion, as the builders want to create a monument to rival the Taj in size and grandeur. It is surrounded by sprawling lawns and is one of the main attractions of Agra.
Ram Bagh (Aram Bagh)
The garden was laid down in 1526, by Babur and is one of the earliest Mughal gardens in the country. The mortal remains of Babur were first buried here before being permanently interred at Kabul in Afghanistan.
This beautiful tomb of Akbar is a fine blend of Hindu and Muslim styles of architecture, representing his philosophy and secular outlook of the great emperor. It was completed in 1613 and is still very well preserved.
The exquisitely carved red sandstone tomb was built in 1611 in memory of Akbar’s Goan-Christian wife – Mariyam.
This unique mosque was built in 1648, by Shah Jahan’s daughter, Jehanara Begum commemorating Sheikh Salim Chishti and his grandson Islam Khan.