Agra

Agra, or the city of the Taj, as it is known all over the world, is one of the prominent destinations of the World Tourism map with three heritage monuments – The Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri & Red Fort. Agra is the medieval times capital of India. It is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh, 363 kilometres west of state capital, Lucknow and 200 kilometres south of the national capital New Delhi.

History of Agra:

The history of Agra bears testimony to the city’s glorious past. Agra is visited by many who love to explore the rich history and culture of the city. The early reference to the history of Agra can be traced in the famous epic Mahabharata where the city has been called “Agravana”. Prior to this source, Agra was called the “Arya Griha” meaning the abode of the Aryans. The 1st person to refer the city with its present name was the famous Ptolemy.

Agra was founded by Badal Singh in the year 1475. In the year 1506, Sikandar Lodi started the reign of the Delhi Sultanate in Agra. The death of Sikandar Lodi made his son Ibrahim Lodi to ascend the throne. Later in 1526, the once capital of the Lodhis, Agra was captured by Babur, after defeating the Lodhis. Thus a long reign of the great Mughal rule started in the city. Agra became a major city for the Mughal Empire after the first battle of Panipat in 1526.

In the year 1556, the great Hindu warrior Hemu Vikramaditya, also known as Samrat Hem Chander Vikramaditya, won the state of Agra as the Prime Minister cum Chief of Army of Adil Shah of the Afghan Suri Dynasty. The commander of Humayun / Akbar’s forces in Agra, Tardi Beg Khan, was so scared of Hemu that he retreated from the city without a fight. This was Hemu’s 21st continuous win since 1554, and he later went on to conquer Delhi, having his coronation at Purana Qil’a in Delhi on 7 October 1556 and re-established the Hindu Kingdom and the Vikramaditya Dynasty in North India.

The golden age of the city began with the Mughals. It was known then as Akbarabad and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under the Emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan later shifted his capital to Shahjahanabad in the year 1649.Since Akbarabad was one of the most important cities in India under the Mughals, it witnessed a lot of building activity. Babar, the founder of the Mughal dynasty, laid out the first formal Persian garden on the banks of river Yamuna. The garden is called the Aram Bagh or the Garden of Relaxation. His grandson Akbar raised the towering ramparts of the Great Red Fort, besides making Agra a center for learning, arts, commerce and religion. Akbar also built a new city on the outskirts of Akbarabad called Fatehpur Sikri.This city was built in the form of a Mughal military camp in stone.

His son Jahangir had a love of gardens and flora and fauna and laid many gardens inside the Red Fort or Lal Qil’a. Shah Jahan, known for his keen interest in architecture, gave Akbarabad its most prized monument, the Tāj Mahal. Built in loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the mausoleum was completed in 1653.

Shah Jahan later shifted the capital to Delhi during his reign, but his son Aurangzeb moved the capital back to Akbarabād, usurping his father and imprisoning him in the Fort there. Akbarabad remained the capital of India during the rule of Aurangzeb until he shifted it to Aurangabad in the Deccan in 1653. After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the city came under the influence of Marathas and was called Agra, before falling into the hands of the British Raj in 1803.

His son Jahangir had a love of gardens and flora and fauna and laid many gardens inside the Red Fort or Lal Qil’a. Shah Jahan, known for his keen interest in architecture, gave Akbarabad its most prized monument, the Tāj Mahal. Built in loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the mausoleum was completed in 1653.

Building and Architecture

The rich historical facts of Agra are clearly reflected in the large number of historical monuments that abounds the city. The Mughal dynasty contributed immensely to the establishment of these magnificent monuments and buildings like the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and many more. During the reign of the Mughal kings like Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan, the history of Agra reached its glorious peak. It was Akbar who developed the city as a seat of art, culture, learning and commerce. With the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal rule also came to an end. This was followed by the emergence of many regional kingdoms in the city. Post Mughal period, the city of Agra was ruled by the Marathas, Jats and the British.

Taj Mahal of agra is one of the most famous buildings in the world, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan’s beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, and one of three World Heritage Sites in Agra.
Completed in 1653, the Tāj Mahal was built by the Mughal king Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his beloved wife, Mumtāz Mahal. Finished in marble, it is perhaps India’s most fascinating and beautiful monument. This perfectly symmetrical monument took 22 years (1630–1652) of labour and 20,000 workers, masons and jewellers to build and is set amidst landscaped gardens. Built by the Persian architect, Ustād ‘Īsā, the Tāj Mahal is on the bank of the Yamuna River. It can be observed from Agra Fort from where Emperor Shāh Jahān gazed at it, for the last eight years of his life, a prisoner of his son Aurangzeb. It is an acknowledged masterpiece of symmetry. Verses of the Koran are inscribed on it and at the top of the gate are twenty-two small domes, signifying the number of years the monument took to build. The Tāj Mahal was built on a marble platform that stands above a sandstone one. The most elegant dome of the Tāj Mahal has a diameter of 60 feet (18 m), and rises to a height of 80 feet (24 m); directly under this dome is the tomb of Mumtāz Mahal. Shah Jahān’s tomb was erected next to hers by his son Aurangzeb. The interiors are decorated with fine inlay work, incorporating semi-precious stones.

Present Agra comes as city with some of the world famous tourist attractions. Agra is a fascinating city with a rich traditional background and interesting religious aspects which makes the city even more interesting. Three UNESCO World Heritage sites find place in the city of Agra. These are Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.

Agra is the birthplace of the religion known as Dīn-i Ilāhī, which flourished during the reign of Akbar and also of the Radhaswami Faith, which has around two million followers worldwide. Agra has historic linkages with Shauripur of Jainism and Runukta of Hinduism, of 1000 BC.

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