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Location : Near Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
Major attraction : Taj Mahal
Founded in : 1475
Founded by : Badal Singh
Languages : Hindi, English
Best Visiting Period : Throughout the year
Agra, the rich cultural city, is the popular tourist destination of Uttar Pradesh. If you, hitherto, haven't got an opportunity of visiting this place of paramount historical importance, then be ready to have a glimpse of it. Located on the banks of River Yamuna, this splendid city is reminiscent of the golden Mughal Era.
Historical Significance :
The city was established by in late fifteenth century. It came into prominence at the time when Lodhi Kings made it their capital. The foundation of the great Mughal Empire was also laid down her. This period saw the flourishing of art, crafts, culture, and knowledge. The 16th and 17th centuries saw the city ruled by a number of Mughal emperors like Akbar and Jehangir. Several masterpieces of architecture were also built during this golden period of art.
Tourist Attractions :
Taj Mahal : No other monument of India can match the peerless beauty of Taj Mahal. This magnificent structure of 17th century was built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his loving wife Mumtaj Mahal. The architectural splendor of this place has earned it the distinction of being Seven Wonders of the World. Not only this, the monument has been listed as the world Heritage Site. It took about 20 years to complete, the skill and toil involved in building it is commendable. The structure is a reflection of Indo Persian style; numerous inscriptions have been inscribed on its walls. As your eyes fell on this exceptional piece of art for the very first time, you are bound to get awestruck.
Agra Fort : Another heritage site that will catch your fancy is the Red Fort of Agra. Its foundation was laid by Akbar who initiated the construction in 1565. The structure was built keeping in mind the strategic needs. Numerous buildings were built inside the fort including Moti Masjid, Khas Mahal, Diwan-e-Khas, etc. The fort is in the shape of a crescent and faces River Yamuna. Its prominent features include ramparts which are punctuated by projections called bastions.
Fatehpur Sikri : A yet another architectural wonder constructed by Akbar in Agra is Fatehpur Sikri. Built within a span of about 15 years, this exclusive tourist place is an epitome of both Hindu and Islamic architecture. Named after the victory of Babur over the Rajput King Rana Sanga, this fortified place is listed as the World Heritage Site. Another spectacular structure that you will adore here is Buland Darwaja. Akbar, in order to immortalize his victory on Gujarat, built this magnificent gateway. Built entirely in red sandstone, the building was considered one of the tallest structures of its time. The religious tolerance of Akbar is clear from the fact that an inscription of Jesus Christ has been placed in its premises.
Tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daulah : This mausoleum in Agra is sprawled over an area of 23 square meters. Resting on a base of 50 meters, the structure was built by Noor Jehan in the memory of her father. The garden in which it is built and the numerous streams that crisscross it make it an enchanting place to visit. Compared now and then to Taj Mahal, the tomb's notable features are the use of white marble, latticework, inlay designs etc. You will marvel at the walls which are embellished with precious stones like jasper, onyx, topaz etc.
Jama Masjid : Jama or Jami Masjid of 16 century is a towering structure that will attract you by its elegance and Mughal style of design. There is a big courtyard at the entrance and is used for offering prayers. The distinctive features of Jama Masjid differentiate it from other Mughal buildings are the dome's shape and lack of any minarets.
Ram Bagh : This oldest garden of Mughal period was built in 16th century by Babur. As you walk a distance of about 2 kilometers in north direction of Taj Mahal, you will reach Ram Bagh. The garden has been constructed keeping in mind the flow of air coming from River Yamuna. The interiors of the garden have been divided by pathways and water channels that divide the premises into four parts. There are steps over which water coming from Yamuna cascades in a series. You will notice that channels are framed by stairs from sides. The reign of Jehangir swat e establishment of two suites near main terrace.
Jehnagir Palace : This Agra attraction was constructed by Akbar to offer luxurious comfort to his son Jehangir. Like other monuments belonging to 16th century, this palace is also a unique combination of both Muslim and Hindu architecture.
Octagonal Tower : This impressive building by Shah Jahan was built as a part of Red Fort. Commonly called as Musamman Burj, this octagonal shaped tower has provisions for allowing the cool breeze from Yamuna to enter the premises and protect people from scorching summer. The spaciousness of the place will charm you.
Swami Bagh and Mehtab Bagh : Swami Bagh is the Samadhi belonging to Radha Swami Sect. It is under construction. Botanical gardens of Mehtab Bagh give you a chance to have a glimpse of Taj Mahal. The entrance fee for the foreigners is Rs.100.
Temples : There is no dearth of temples at Agra; a few of them are Kailash temple at Sikandra, Balkeshwar Temple at Balkeshwar, Rajesjhwar Temple at Rajpur, Prithvinath Temple at Shahganj ,and Rawli Maharaj near Collectrate crossing.
Taj Mahotsav : This joyous carnival is organized at Shilpgram every year. The festivities begin with a grand procession carried in Mughal style. Presence of heavily decorated elephants as well as camels gives a royal touch to the spectacle. Participated by huge number of folk artists and musicians, this special event attracts the tourists by the depiction of cultural regalia. The art and tradition of the bygone Mughal period comes to life during this time. You, as an artist, would get opportunities to buy exquisite pieces of art like carpets, wooden carvings, Banaras silk, pottery, and chickan work.
Kailash Fair : Just 12 kilometers from the destination, Kailash is the venue of a festival that goes by the same name. Here prayers are offered to a Shiva Lingam which is supposed to have appeared here in the stone form.
Bateshwar Fair : An important cultural and religious hub, Bateshwar holds a fair every year in October/November. Devotees throng to the venue to pay reverence to Lord Shiva.
Rambarat : At the time of Ramlila celebration, a grand procession called Rambarat is taken out. The venue of the procession keeps on changing every year. You can watch decorative tableaux that form part of the event.
Sikandra : Have a visit to this mausoleum of the Mughal Emperor Akbar and you will get a chance to peep into this grand 5-storey structure. The tomb of the king is built in the shape of a square; there are cloisters which are divided in bays. The entrance or the vestibule is embellished with intricate carvings. You can visit the place on any weekdays. Indians have to pay a sum of Rs. 10 while for foreigners, the fee is Rs. 245/-.
Mathura : A highly popular pilgrimage place of Hindus, Mathura has been the center of learning and arts since centuries. This birth place of Lord Krishna is venerated by thousand of devotees.
Vrindavan : Another pilgrimage place near Agra is Vrindavan. It houses a large number of temples scattered all over the town.
Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary : Visit to the sanctuary is a delightful experience and a perfect break if you had enough of monuments and tombs. The park shelters a vast number of exotic animal species.
There are a large number of budget hotels and luxury suites that can be booked by you while visiting Agra. Among the splurge hotels, ITC Mughal and Oberoi Amarvilas are most famous.
The specialties of the place are "pasha" and "dal moth", "chaat".
Shopping can be altogether new experience at Agra; you can buy a number of souvenirs such as Taj made in marble. Leather items also flood the markets. Most of these items are prepared by jail inmates and include sandals, bags, and purses. At handicraft emporiums, you can buy wooden items and other decorative pieces. Have a visit to the Kinari bazaar, UPICA or Gangotri and take way with you some of the finest items of the state.
Agra is an important town of Uttar Pradesh. Visit to this special place helps to explore the cultural richness and a glimpse of the monumental structures that are the evidences of the Mughal art and architecture.