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Agra

Destination Details

Agra is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is 378 kilometres (235 mi) west of the state capital, Lucknow, 206 kilometres (128 mi) south of the national capital New Delhi, 58 kilometres (31 mi) south from Mathura and 125 kilometres (78 mi) north of Gwalior. Agra is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh, and the 24th most populous in India.

Agra is a major tourist destination because of its many Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Tāj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpūr Sikrī, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Agra is included on the Golden Triangle tourist circuit, along with Delhi and Jaipur; and the Uttar Pradesh Heritage Arc, tourist circuit of UP state, along Lucknow the capital of the state and Varanasi. Agra falls within the Braj cultural region.

The city was first mentioned in the epic Mahābhārata, where it was called Agrevaṇa (derived from Sanskrit (अग्रेवण) meaning “the border of the forest”).

However, the 11th century Persian poet Mas’ūd Sa’d Salmān writes of a desperate assault on the fortress of Agra, then held by the Shāhī King Jayapala, by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. It was mentioned for the first time in 1080 AD when a Ghaznavide force captured it. Sultan Sikandar Lodī (1488–1517) was the first to move his capital from Delhi to Agra in 1506. He governed the country from here and Agra assumed the importance of the second capital. He died in 1517 and his son, Ibrāhīm Lodī, remained in power there for nine more years and several palaces, wells and a mosque were built by him in the fort during his period. Finally being defeated at the Battle of Panipat in 1526. Between 1540 and 1556, Afghans, beginning with Sher Shah Suri ruled the area. It was the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1658.

Climate of Agra

Minimum Temperature: 19° C (Summer), 8° C (Winter)
Maximum Temperature: 42° C (Summer), 34° C (Winter)

Summer season: The summer season extending from the month of April to June. The maximum temperatures during this period can rise up to 42° C .

Monsoon or Rainy season: The month of July marks the commencement of monsoons in Agra, which last almost till October. The rainy season comes as a relief from the hot summers, to the people of Agra. Heavy rainfall is received b the city of Agra during the monsoons.

Winter season: Winters in Agra stays from November till the month of March.The winter temperature is about 8° C .

Best Time to Visit: November to March

History of Agra

Agra has found its mention in the famous Hindu epic Mahabharat as the forest of Agraban close to Mathura. Badal Singh founded the city in 1475. Sikandar Lodhi made Agra his capital city. Later, Babur defeated the Lodhis to capture the city situated on the banks of River Yamuna and thus, the long association of Mughals with Agra started. The Mughal love of architecture translated into beautiful monuments such as Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and Sikandra. The glory of Agra was at its peak during the reign of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. Akbar made it the center of art, culture, commerce and learning and Shah Jahan saw it in full bloom. In fact, it is said that it was Akbar who laid the foundation of the modern city that we see now in 1558 and was known as Akbarabad. Most of the buildings belong to the period between mid-16th century and 17th century and were of high quality. These monuments were built in the contemporary Mughal style. Mughlai cuisine and the skilled craftsmen can still be seen in the narrow lanes of the city as a reminiscent of the lost times.

Tourist Attraction in and around Agra

The Taj Mahal is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife. Taj Mahal means Crown Palace. One of his wife’s names was Mumtaz Mahal, Ornament of the Palace. The Taj is one of the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tombs in the world, one of the masterpieces of Indian Muslim architecture, and one of the great sites of the world’s heritage.

The Taj Mahal has a life of its own that leaps out of marble, provided you understand that it is a monument of love. The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore called it a teardrop on the cheek of eternity, while the English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold, said it was Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones. It is a celebration of woman built in marble, and that is the way to appreciate it.

Although it is one of the most photographed edifices in the world and instantly recognisable, actually seeing it is awe-inspiring. Not everything is in the photos. The grounds of the complex include several other beautiful buildings, reflecting pools, extensive ornamental gardens with flowering trees and bushes, and a small gift shop. The Taj framed by trees and reflected in a pool is amazing. Close up, large parts of the building are covered with inlaid stonework.

There is an apocryphal tale that Shah Jahan planned to build an exact copy of the Taj Mahal out of black marble on the opposite side of the river as his own tomb. His plans were foiled by his son, who murdered three elder brothers and overthrew his father to acquire the throne. Shah Jahan is now buried alongside his wife in the Taj Mahal.

The Taj is open from 6:00 AM to 6:30 PM (sunset) every day except Friday.

The Taj is located in the middle of town. Expect a line to get into the grounds. There are three gates. The western gate is the main gate where most tourists enter. A large number of people turn up on weekends and public holidays, and entry through the western gate may take hours. The southern and eastern gates are much less busy and should be tried on such days.

Agra Fort
The Taj and the Yamuna River from the ramparts of Agra Fort. The fort is similar in layout to the Red Fort in Delhi, but considerably better preserved, as much of Delhi Fort was razed by the British after the Mutiny. As much as palace as a defensive structure, it is also constructed mainly from red sandstone.

Emperor Akbar, king at 14, began consolidating his empire and, as an assertion of his power built the fort in Agra between 1565 and 1571, at the same time as Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi. Emperor Shah Jahan added to the fort and ended up a prisoner in it. The fort has a beautiful view of his masterpiece, the Taj Mahal, on a clear day.

Mehtab Bagh, Sunrise to Sunset. These botanical gardens give you an opportunity to view the Taj at a remove from the crowds of tourists. Alternatively, walk past the entrance and straight to the sandy banks of the river: the view of the Taj is every bit as lovely (perhaps more so, since the barbed wire fence surrounding the gardens will be behind you), although you may have to deal with aggressive touts. In the rainy season when the river is full you can get good photos of the Taj at sunset, as the reflection mirrors off the water.

Sikandra, (10 km north of Agra on the Agra Delhi highway). Open from sunrise to sunset. The tomb of Akbar lies here in the centre of the large garden. Akbar started its construction himself but it was completed by his son Jahangir, who significantly modified the original plans which accounts for the somewhat cluttered architectural lines of the tomb. Four red sandstone gates lead to the tomb complex: one is Muslim, one Hindu, one Christian, and one is Akbar’s patent mixture.

Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb
Empress Nur Jehan built Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb, sometimes called the Baby Taj, for her father, Ghias-ud-Din Beg, the Chief Minister of Emperor Jahangir. Small in comparison to many other Mughal-era tombs, it is sometimes described as a jewel box. Its garden layout and use of white marble, pietra dura, inlay designs and latticework presage many elements of the Taj Mahal.

Fatehpur Sikri
It was built in the the 16th century by the Emperor Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri (the City of Victory) was the capital of the Mughal Empire for about 10 years. Then it was abandoned for reasons that are still something of a mystery. It includes one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid. It is full of well preserved palaces and courtyards, and this UNESCO world heritage site is a must see for anyone visiting Agra.


How to Reach

By Air
Agra’s Kheria Airport is located at a distance of 12.5 kilometers from the city center. The airport is a seasonal commercial airport which serve only Air India flights from New Delhi. It normally takes an hour to reach Agra from New Delhi by air. Taxis are easily available and will take you to your hotel or any other tourist destination you want to reach.
By Train
The beautiful, historical city of Agra is easily accessible by road and has four main railway stations-the Agra Cantonment, Agra Fort, Idgah Agra junction and Raja ki Mandi. The stations are well connected to major cities and tourist locations in India. Moreover, some superfast trains are also available that connect Agra to Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. Taxis, cabs and rickshaws are easily available to carry travelers to their destinations.
By Road
Agra can be conveniently accessed by bus from all the major cities and locations of India like Delhi, Lucknow, Kanpur and Gwalior etc. Agra city has two major bus terminals-The Idgah Bus Stand and the Interstate Bus Terminus (ISBT). You can also opt for self-drive or rent a cab.

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