The city of Agra is known for the beautiful Taj Mahal, but there's a lot more to this historic city. The Mughal dynasty ruled from Agra and endowed it with many fine buildings and monuments such as Agra Fort, which contains grand halls and palaces and the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, a precursor to the Taj Mahal.
Because of Agra's location in the heart of North India, a trip to Agra can be combined with a tour of many other North Indian destinations. The tomb of Akbar is in Sikandra near Agra, the deserted Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri and the holy city of Mathura are also nearby. Enjoy traveling back to Mughal times while exploring the attractions of Agra and its surroundings.
Apart from sightseeing there are markets, which offer fine marble ware and various handcrafted artifacts, such as carpets, brassware and leather items, created by traditional craftsmen.
The Taj Mahal
A poet once described this enchanting monument as "A teardrop of love, frozen in marble on the cheek of Eternity." Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal (Exalted one of the Palace), after her death in 1631, this exquisite tomb is recognized the world over for its aesthetic perfection and is considered a symbol of eternal love.
Situated near the banks of the River Yamuna, in Agra, this white marble mausoleum is set like a jewel amidst the serene ambience of a formal garden. Its green lawns and waterways lead to a raised platform on which the tomb rests. The refined elegance of the artistic pietra dura work of inlaid designs on the marble walls, the large onion-shaped dome and its surrounding symmetrical minarets represents the pinnacle of Islamic architecture in India.
Couples from all over the world come to have their pictures taken before this romantic building. Viewing the Taj on a moonlit night is believed to be one of the most beautiful sights in the world. Share the experience of falling in love…with the Taj Mahal.
This imposing fort built by Akbar, and added to by Shah Jahan is a veritable treasure trove of the Mughal architectural tradition. The various buildings within this sprawling fort complex represent the assimilation of Hindu and Muslim cultures, resulting in the Indo-Saracenic school of architecture, which was the hallmark of the Mughal period. The fort contains halls of public and private audience and formal parks and gardens.
Built by Noor Jahan for a relative, Itmad-ud-Daulah's tomb is a highly ornate edifice, which is looked upon as an imminent precursor of the Taj Mahal as far as the elaborate carvings and pietra dura inlay work are concerned. The tomb marks a significant departure from the tombs of the Mughal dynasty built earlier, because this tomb follows the central Asian pattern of a domed structure, set in a formal garden, with waterways and paths laid out in a geometrical pattern. This is the design followed later in the construction of the Taj Mahal.
Fatehpur Sikri was the imperial city of the Mughal dynasty between 1571 and 1584. Built by the Mughal emperor Akbar, this royal city was abandoned because the lack of water in the area was not sufficient for the population of the city. The magnificent palaces and buildings of this abandoned city stand today as a testimony to the power of nature over the most grandiose dreams of a mighty Emperor. The city is located at a distance of 40 km from Agra.
Akbar's tomb at Sikandra is an excellent example of assimilation of different styles of architecture and it represents a significant departure from the earlier Mughal buildings. The tomb carries the characteristic flavor of the airy tiered pavilions of the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. Set in a quiet locale, the tomb has gardens on all sides where grazing deer can be seen. Watch out for monkeys that live in the trees nearby.