Agra was once the capital of the Mughal empire and even today it seems to linger in the past. Not surprising, for the Mughal emperors with their passion for building, endowed the city with some of the finest structures in the world. It is very easy to slip away here through the centuries into the grandeur and intrigues of the Mughal court. Agra is an old city and it is said that its name was derived from Agrabana, a forest thats finds mention in the epic Mahabharta. In more recent times Agra came into prominence when Sikandar Lodi made it his capital city in 1501. The Lodi rule was to end very soon and Agra passed into the possession of the Mughals. It was during the time of the third emperor Akbar that Agra came into its own. He embarked on the construction of the massive Agra Fort in 1565. Though Akbar was diverted into building a new capital at Fatehpur Sikari not far away, Agra continued to retain its importance and Shah Jehan, Akbar's grandson ornamented the city with that masterpiece of Mughal architecture -the Taj Mahal and built several other beautiful buildings within the Agra Fort.
Sightseeing:Agra Fort (Agra)
Construction of the massive red sandstone Agra Fort on the bank of the Yamuna River was begun by Emperor Akbar in 1565, though additions were made up until the rule of his grandson, Shah Jahan. In Akbar's time the fort was principally a military structure, but during Shah Jaha regin it had partially become Palace. It is an imposing strcture with walls of red sandstone almost three kilometers long. Entered through the Amar Singh Gate, the eastern part of the fort contain palace, audience hall and mosques built by three emperors. The fort presents a good sampling of their favoured architectural styles. Akbar drew on Islamic and Hindu traditions and the result is eclectic. By Shah Jahan's time the style had become so homogenized that it is impossible to seprate the Hindu and Muslim strands. The Diwan-i-Am (public audience hall), the beautiful Diwan-i-Khas (private audience hall) and the magnificent Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) were also added by Shah Jahan.
Taj Mahal (Agra)
Described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love, it was constructed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his queen Mumtaz Mahal, made out of white marble took 22 years to complete (1630-1652 AD). Ustad Ahamad Lahori, a Persian Architect, is said to be the main designer and planner for this magnificent memorial. On full moon nights, the glory of the Taj is at its best. Legend has it that once the construction was completed, Shah Jehan had Lahori's hands cut off and his eyes gouged out, so he would never be able to duplicate the structure. Over the centuries, the Taj has attracted more visitors than perhaps any other Monuments in the country, and it is all too easy resort to conventional superlatives when describing it. What makes the Taj Unique is its perfect proportions, distinct femininity, medium of construction and ornamentation. Its marble exterior reflects rose and golden tints at sunrise and sunset, while it is dazzling white during the day and glowes pearl-like in the moonlight and during the monsoon. Standing on a high plinth, the Taj Mahal is visible for miles around and forms a backdrop to mustard fields and mud-walled villages. It can be seen from guestrooms at some of Agra's hotels, as well as from the landscaped gardens to the west of the complex.
This tomb belongs to the father of Nur Jahan, Ghias-ud-Din Beg. He was the Wajir or the Chief Minister of Emperor Jehangir. This white marble tomb was built by Nur Jahan between 1622 and 1628. The tomb may not be as mammoth as the Taj but the inlay designs and carvings are no less than Taj if not more. The delicate marble latticework in the passages allows the light to enter the interiors. A similar tomb was built by Nur Jahan for Jehangir in Lahore. This tomb was the first complete marble Moghul structure.
Jami Masjid (Agra)
Across the railway tracks from the Delhi Gate of Agra Fort, the Jami Masjid was built by Shah Jahan in 1648. An inscription over the main gate indicates that it was built in the name of Jahanara, Shah Jahan's daughter, who was eventually imprisoned with Shah Jahan by Aurangzeb.
It is the only building in India to be decorated exclusively with glazed tile work. The tiny mausoleum overlooking the River Yamuna was the tomb of Afzal Khan, a minister in the court of Shah Jahan.
Previously known as Araambagh, is the probably amongst one of the first Mughal monuments of India. Built by Emperor Babar in 1526 for his recreation, its architecture shows Afghani influences.
Jahangir Mahal (Agra)
The biggest private residence in the Fort is the Jahangir Mahal, the Palace of Emperor Jahangir. It is an excellent blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture. The palace has a hall which is called Jodhabai's dressing Room. Jodhabai was Jahangir's Hindu mother. Its desigen and layout is essentially Hindu. Later the palace was used by Jahangir's Dressing Room. Jodhabai was Jahangir's Hindu mother. Its design and layout is essentially Hindu. Later the palace was used by Jahangir's queen Noorjahan, the Light of the World. Jahangir was very found of wine as well as his queen whom he adored even more. The love of wine interfered in the day do day running of the Government. To help him out in administering imperial justice, Noorjahan sat with her husband to advise him in taking decisions. She was an iron lady and never tolerated opposition. Those who came in her way ended mysteriously in the yamuna river.
The Gateway buildings leads to the Friday mosque or the Jami Masjid.