Agra is famous for having one of the Seven Wonders of the World – the Taj Mahal. Strewn with historical monuments, architectural grandeur and the beauty of marble structures, Agra is among the most popular tourist attraction in India. A trip to Agra is a must for both domestic and foreign tourists. A visit to the Taj Mahal is incomplete without being photographed in front of the famous monument.
The Mughal capital is situated in north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Agra, along with Jaipur and Delhi, forms the Golden Triangle of Indian tourism. Agra is a medieval city and is assumed to be built in 1475. The renowned second century geographer Ptolemy has also spotted this place as Agra in his world map. The present Agra city was established by King Sikander Lodhi of the Lodhi Dynasty in 16th century. Agra was the capital of many dynasties including Lodhi and Mughals.
The city is famous for its marble stone inlay and a rare collection of handicraft items. Tourists will also like to shop for valuable leather items like shoes, belts and bags. Exquisite jewelleries and embroidery works can also be found here. Agra brassware and carpets are renowned world over.
Best time to visit Agra would be from October to March. October to March is good for sightseeing and spending evenings at Taj Mahal. April to June is dry and hot, but one can visit the Taj Mahal, especially the illumination at night is a wonderful sight to experience. Keep summer clothes, sunglasses and water bottles with you.
Other important sites to visit in and near Agra
A UNESCO world heritage site, the fort was the seat of the Mughal Empire before it was shifted for a short time to Fatehpur Sikri and later to Delhi. Captured by the Mughals in 1526, a vast treasure including the Koh-i-Noor diamond was seized.
Culmination of Akbar’s desire to create a grand capital close to the final resting place of Sufi Saint Salim Chishti, Fatehpur Sikri served as the capital from 1571 to 1585. It took 15 years in planning and construction and included a series of royal palaces, courts, mosque and private quarters. Akbar named the city, Fatehabad, meaning “victory”. Made of red stone, it was abandoned in 1585 due to paucity of water and for safety reasons. Constructed using Indian principles, the buildings show a synthesis of various regional schools of architecture such as Gujarat and Bengal.
Tomb of Akbar the Great
The tomb of the greatest Mughal is spread over 119 acres in Sikandra. Mughals followed the Tartary tradition of commencing the construction of one’s tomb during one’s lifetime. Akbar himself commenced construction in around 1600 but the work was completed by Jahangir in 1613.
Often described as ‘jewel box’ or the ‘Baby Tāj’, the tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah is often regarded as a draft of the Tāj Mahal. The tomb, built between 1622 and 1628 represents a transition between the first phase of monumental Mughal architecture – primarily built from red sandstone with marble decorations, to its second phase, based on white marble and pietra dura inlay, most elegantly realized in the Tāj Mahal. It was commissioned by Empress Nūr Jahān for her father Mirzā Ghiyās Beg, who had been given the title of I’timād-ud-Daulah (pillar of the state).
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