Are you one of those people who have always been enchanted by the grand Mughal architecture of India?
Have cities like Delhi and Hyderabad transported you to the exotic times of the Mughal emperors? Have the forts, the food and the stories always left you mesmerised, wanting for more?
If your answer to the above questions is in affirmation, then there is a delightful North Indian city for you to explore- a city that is rich in culture and heritage- none other than Agra.
History of the Taj Mahal
Agra- situated on the banks of River Yamuna, is one of the very popular tourist destinations in North India, mainly owing to the one of the most important landmarks of our country- “The Taj Mahal”. This epic monument was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The perfectly symmetrical shrine is finished in pure white marble, set amidst beautifully landscaped gardens and is touted as one of India’s most iconic monuments. It is for the same reason that this lovely piece of architecture is also among the Seven Wonders of the World.
There is another World Heritage Site in Agra- the “Agra Fort”, sometimes also called the “Red Fort”. Lavishly constructed in red sandstone and then reworked in marble and ‘pietra dura’ during Shah Jahan’s reign, this huge fort houses some very notable buildings- Moti Mahal, Diwan-e-Aam, Diwan-e-Khaas, Jahangir’s Palace, Khas Mahal, Shish Mahal and Mussaman Burj. This fort is also a marvellous sight for architecture lovers and is something that cannot be missed while visiting Agra.
Agra is also home to some other wonderful historical buildings such as the Itmad-Ud-Daulah tomb, which was built by Empress Nur Jahan for her father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg who was the Chief Minister of Emperor Jahangir. Apart from the above, there is Jama Masjid, Sikandra Tomb- the last resting place of Akbar and Mariam’s tomb- the tomb of Akbar’s wife, Mariam.
Gardens of Agra
However, the forts and palaces are not the only reasons to visit Agra. This vibrant and wonderful city also houses some magnificent gardens to visit, one such being “Ram Bagh” which is the oldest Mughal garden in India and was built by Babur in 1528 on the banks of Yamuna. The original name of this garden was “Aaram Bagh” or “Garden of relaxation”. It was given this name apparently because Babur would spend his leisure time in this garden. Another fascinating garden to visit in Agra is the “Mehtab Bagh” or the “Moonlight Garden” which is on the opposite bank of River Yamuna from the Taj Mahal. Thus, the Mehtab Bagh also gives you an excellent view of the Taj Mahal.
A Delicacy of Agra
Agra is not only famous for its architecture, but also for its food and one of the most popular delicacies is “Petha” - a translucent candy like sweet made out of pumpkin and it is said to have originated from the kitchen of Emperor Shah Jahan.
Travelling to Agra especially from Delhi is fairly easy and convenient today, thanks to the Yamuna Expressway that connects the two cities. The distance is about 300 kilometres and can be covered in a time of three hours. Car hire services are easily available in the capital and can ensure a safe and comfortable ride. So if you want to get away from the hustle bustle of daily life, and just spend a few days in the lap of history, then Agra is your best bet for a sweet escape.