Agra is a city on the banks of the Yamuna River in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India.
It finds mention in the epic Mahabharata when it was called Agrabana, or Paradise.
Ptolemy, the famous 2nd century geographer, marked it on his map of the world as Agra.
Tradition and legend ascribe the present city of Raja Badal Singh (around 1475) whose Fort, Badalgarh, Stood on or near the site of the present Fort. However, the 12th century Persian poet Salman writes of a desperate assault on the fortress of Agra, then held by one King Jaipal, by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni.
It was ruled by Sultan Sikandar Lodi in the year 1506. It achieved fame as the capital of the Mughal emperors from 1526 to 1658 and remains a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Getting In : By Air Agra Airport at Kheria is around 6 KM from the city centre, but is not very well connected. Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi is the best option. Agra is very well connected to Delhi both by Rail and Road. By Rail Agra is on the main train line between Delhi (Station Code : NDLS) and Mumbai (Bombay) (Station Code : CSTM) and between Delhi and Chennai (Station Code : MAS) The luxury train - Palace on Wheels also stops at Agra on its eight day round trip of tourist destinations in Rajasthan and Agra.
By Road Idgah Bus Stand is the biggest Bus Stand in Agra and is connected to most of the bigger cities in North India. Climate:
Agra, located on the Indo-Gangetic plain has a continental sub-tropical climate, with long, hot summers from April to September when temperatures can reach as high as 45°C (113°F). During summers dry winds (loo) blow in this region. The monsoon months from July to September see about 67 cm (27 inches) of rainfall annually. Winters last from November to February, with day time temperatures comfortably warm, but temperatures below freezing are not uncommon during the night. Agra is also prone to dense fog during the winter month of December & January.
A major tourist destination, Agra is best visited in the months of October and November, and February and March, when the average temperatures are between 16-25°C (60-75°F) The monsoon season should be avoided by non-Indians due to the risk of disease and flooding, the months of April to June due to the extreme heat. The months of December and January are to be avoided due to the dense fog and often freezing temperatures, especially since much of the city has no heating system.
Agra's Taj Mahal is one of the most famous buildings in the world, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan's favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the New 7 Wonders of the world, and one of three World Heritage Sites in Agra, the others being Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
Completed in 1653 CE., the Taj Mahal is believed to have been built by the Mughal Badshah (king) Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his beloved wife, Mumtaz. Finished in marble, it is perhaps India's most fascinating and beautiful monument. This perfectly symmetrical monument took 22 years (1630-1652) of hard labour and 20,000 workers, masons and jewellers to build and is set amidst landscaped gardens. Built by the Persian architect, Ustad Isa, the Taj Mahal is on the bank of the Yamuna River. It can be observed like a mirage from the Agra Fort from where Emperor Shah Jahan stared at it, for the last eight years his life as a prisoner of his son Aurangzeb. It is a masterpiece of symmetry, seeming to be floating in the air from a distance, and each revealed as an illusion experienced as one enters through the main gate. Verses of the Holy Koran are inscribed on it and at the top of gate 22 small domes, signifying the number of years the monument took to build. The Taj Mahal was built on a marble platform that stands above a sandstone one. The most elegant dome of the Taj, with a diameter of 60 feet (18 m), rises 80 feet (24 m) over the building and directly under the dome is the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan's tomb was erected next to hers by his son Aurangzeb. Fantastic inlay works using semi-precious stones decorate the interiors. Opening Times: 6 A.M. to 7.30 P.M. (closed Fridays)
The 'Itmad-Ul-Daulah at Agra' .
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. Located on the left bank of the Yamuna river, the mausoleum is set in a large cruciform garden criss-crossed by water courses and walkways. The mausoleum itself is set on a base about 50 meters square and about 1 meter high. The mausoleum is about 23 meters square. On each corner are hexagonal towers, about 13 meters tall. 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.
The walls are white marble from Rajasthan encrusted with semi-precious stone decorations - cornelian, jasper, lapis lazuli, onyx, and topaz in images of cypress trees and wine bottles, or more elaborate decorations like cut fruit or vases containing bouquets. Light to the interior passes through delicate jali screens of intricately carved white marble.
Another world heritage site in Agra. Agra's dominant structure, the Agra Fort (sometimes called the Red Fort), was built by Akbar in 1565. Be Noted that a Stone Plate located at the Gate of Fort describes it to be built before 1000 and later renovated by Akbar. The red sandstone fort was renovated and converted into a palace during Shah Jahan's time, and reworked extensively with marble and pietra dura inlay.
Notable buildings in the fort include the Pearl Mosque, the Diwan-e-Am and Diwan-e-Khas (halls of public and private audience), Jehangir's Palace, Khaas Mahal, Sheesh Mahal (mirrored palace), and Musamman Burj.
The great Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned the construction of the Agra Fort in 1565 CE., although additions were made till the time of his grandson Shah Jahan. The forbidding exteriors of this fort hide an inner paradise. The fort is crescent shaped, flattened on the east with a long, nearly straight wall facing the river. It has a total perimeter of 2.4 k.m., and is ringed by double castellated ramparts of red sandstone punctuated at regular intervals by bastions. A 9 mt. wide and 10 mt. deep moat surround the outer wall.
Akbar's Tomb, Sikandra. Sikandra, the last resting place of the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great, is on Delhi-Agra Highway, is only 13 kilometres from the Agra Fort. Akbar's tomb reflects the completeness of his personality. The vast, beautifully carved, red-ochre sandstone tomb with deers, rabbits and langoor monkeys is set amidst a lush garden. Akbar himself planned his own tomb and selected a suitable site for it. To construct a tomb in one's lifetime was a Tartary custom which the Mughals followed religiously. Akbar's son Jahangir completed the construction of this pyramidal tomb in 1613.
Jami Masjid Mosque is a very simple mosque of red sandstone with little white marble decoration and blue colour paint wall and ceilings. It’s a huge mosque in the center of Agra surrounded by a great bazaar. The mosque was completely empty of any tourist, only one man praying and the little children at the Madrasa (Koran school). The Mosque Stands on a high plinth approached by stairs, and with five arched entrances to the courtyard, the mosque is crowned by three large sandstone domes distinguished by their zigzag bands of marble. It has well-balanced proportions and a courtyard surrounded by cloisters on three of its sides and the prayer chamber on its western side. Jami Masjid is beautifully decorated with paintings, inlaid stones, carvings and glazed tiles. The building comprises of pillared Dalan, a beautiful 'Chhajja' and the 'Chhatri' on the roof. The main Iwan of the building is rather simple and contains a central arch with geometrical designs.
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