Agra - Located 220 kms from Delhi, Agra is a must visit city on any Tour of India. Home of the World famous Taj Mahal, Agra provides avid glimpses of Mughal architecture. To be in Agra is like taking a walk through India's Mughal period history. Other than the Taj Mahal, Agra's attractions include the Red Fort, built by Emperor Akbar on the banks of the River Yamuna, Sikandra, the mausoleum of Emperor Akbar, the Itmad-ud-Daulah, a mausoleum built for Empress Noor Jahan's father and last but not the least and a short distance away, Fatehpur Sikri, with its very impressive architecture and interesting stories of it having been built and then abandoned. After Delhi, Agra is the most visited tourist city in North India.
WHAT TO SEE
Taj Mahal, Agra
What is widely considered as the most beautiful building in the world, Taj Mahal is located in the historical city of Agra. Called as the "symbol of love", it was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Every year visitors numbering more than the entire population of Agra passes through the magnificent gates to catch a glimpse of this breathtaking monument, and only a few leave disappointed. Shah Jahan said about the Taj that it made "the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes".
The Taj Mahal stands for the Crown of Palaces in the Persian language. It rises from the dust-beaten earth of Uttar Pradesh, but even the wildest imaginations leave visitors underprepared for this world wonder. It is a breath stealing moment when the gates of this monument are traversed, and the Taj Mahal comes into focus. It is considered as the finest example of Mughal architecture and is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Covering a land over 60 bighas, the Taj Mahal was constructed using white marble obtained from Makrana in Rajasthan.
Rabindranath Tagore described it as "a teardrop in the cheek of eternity" while Rudyard Keepling said it is "the embodiment of all things pure". It took almost 17 years to complete the construction of the Taj Mahal, and it was finally completed by 1653. The tomb is laid out in a rectangular shape, and that can be approached through a massive gateway which has an arch and alcoves on either side of it. The Taj, so majestic from the exterior, has equally splendid artistic work done in the interiors. There are water channels and fountains in the entrance which makes the monument even more spectacular. Simply said, it is the most beautiful building in the world, and it's impossible to see it without feeling wonderstruck!
Fatehpur Sikri built by Akbar served as a capital for the Mughal Empire for a short 14 years, however, its architectural splendor and Indo-Islamic influences are hard to miss or found any place else.
Visit the tomb of Salim Chisti with its stunning white marble façade and intricate carved marble screens is built in the honor of the saint who predicted the birth of an heir to the Mughal throne.
Other attractions include the magnificent Buland Darwaza built by Akbar as a mark of victory over Gujarat and the historically iconic Diwan-i-Aam and Diwan-i-Khaas, where the just king held hearings of the general public in the former and private meetings with his talented and trusted navratnas or nine ministers in the latter. In fact, Birbal, one of the most famous and witty ministers from Akbar’s court of navratnas lived in Fatehpur Sikri.
Besides, the palace of Jodabai, Akbar’s Hindu wife is also a popular tourist attraction.