About Agra Travel Guide
Agra Travel Guide – Agra hosts some of the world famous landmarks that are epitome of love and beauty. In terms of ambience, it is still associated with its memorable Mughal period. As visitors walk down the narrow bustling streets, they can’t 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, date back over a hundred years.
The Taj Mahal, which is essentially one man’s monumental testimony to love, has become synonymous not only with this city but with India as a whole. Agra, with its laid-back lifestyle and wealth of architecture, handicrafts and jewellry, is amongst the most remarkable cities of the world.
While approaching Agra from Delhi, one passes through the religious cities of Mathura and Vrindavan, celebrated in Indian lore and legends. The road from Agra to Jaipur includes Bharatpur and Deeg in its circuit, while the one heading east offers Gwalior and the exquisite temples of Khajuraho as places of tourist attraction.
Agra city livens up during the festive time of the Taj Mahotsav which is organised during February. Its a 10 day extravaganza which is held in the Shilpgram which is close to Taj Murals.It brings out the arts, crafts and culture of India. It has classical dance and song performances by well known artists in India. Apart from this ghazal programmes are also organised and not to miss out on Camel and Elephant rides and Games which are a pass time for Children and elders also. Agra is best known for its Id Melas and the colourful Tazias taken out on Muharram.
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.
Places to see
The Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal is one of the wonders of the world and is the epitome of love, beauty and sacrifice. It was built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his queen, Mumtaz Mahal. The construction of this masterpiece 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 & peace, Nuclear and Non-Nuclear; Taj has stood as the epitome of love. This extravagant monument of love is one of the most visited and most photographed places in the world.
Taj Mahal which was built by Shah Jahan to express his eternal love for his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal was the culmination point of Indo-Persian architecture. The Mughal Emperors were always fond of constructing monuments. Perhaps they knew that they would be gone but these structures will remind the world of their grandeur. Shah Jahan was particularly fond of constructing extravagant monuments. He built the city of Shah Jahanabad which today is called the old Delhi. He loved construction but more than that, he loved his wife. He compared Mumtaz Mahal’s beauty with the light of heaven. She died while giving birth to her fourteenth child. Shah Jahan was so shocked by her death that his hair turned grey overnight.
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. This tomb belongs to the father of Nur Jahan, Ghias-ud-Din Beg. He was the Wajir or the Chief Minister of Emperor Jehangir. This white marble tomb was built by Nur Jahan between 1622 and 1628. The tomb 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. A similar tomb was built by Nur Jahan for Jehangir in Lahore. This tomb was the first complete marble Moghul structure.
This was built by 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 being built here in honour of their fourth Guru.
Agra Fort on the banks of the River Yamuna, 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 the principle structure was built by Akbar many more additions were made by his grandsons.
Built by Shah Jahan in 1648, the main gate of this mosque has inscription written on it that it was built by Jahanara Begum. She was the favorite daughter of Shah Jahan and was imprisoned with him. The absence of minarets and the shape of the dome gives it a distinguished character.
A tomb of glazed tiles is a memorial dedicated to poet-scholar and later the Prime Minister of Shah Jahan, Allama Afzel Khal Mullah Shukrullah of Shiraz. The China Tomb is 1 km north of the Itimad-ud-daulah. The squat, square Tomb surmounted by a single huge dome was constructed by Afzal Khan. The exterior was covered in brightly coloured enameled tiles and the whole building clearly displayed its persian influence.
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.
Van Vihar Wildlife Sanctuary
It is situated 50 km from Agra and spreads over an area of 52 square km. It harbors many species of animals and birds. It can be approached from Agra by taxi or bus or by train upto Dholpur. Accommodation is available in Forest Department rest houses within the sanctuary itself.
This tomb is dedicated to the wife of Akbar. The red sand stone tomb was built in 1611 and is on the Delhi- Agra highway. The carvings on the tomb of Mariyam-us-Zamani are worth giving a closer look.
When Babur came to India he laid the first Mughal gardens 500 m North of the Chini Ka Rauza. These well laid gardens are not even a fraction of what they used to be. It will need lots of imagination to picture how these gardens must have looked in 1558.
37 kms from Agra is built a city predominantly in Red Sandstone called Fatehpur Sikri. This town was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. He had planned this city as his capital but shortage of water compelled him to abandon the city and within 20 years the capital of Mughals was shifted to Lahore. Fatehpur Sikri was built during 1571 and 1585.
44 km away from Agra, it is an important handicraft and industrial center famous for glassware, especially glass bangles and cut-glass items.