Bhawna Clarks Inn, Agra

Places of Interest

History

Agra, the former capital of Hindustan, is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is 363 kilometres west of the state capital, Lucknow, and 200 kilometres south of the national capital New Delhi.

The city is mentioned in the epic Mahabharata, where it was called Agreva?a ("the border of the forest"). Legend ascribes the founding of the city to Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king (c. 1475), whose fort, Badalgarh, stood on or near the site of the present fort. Sultan Sikandar Lodi was the first to move his capital from Delhi to Agra in 1506. He died in 1517 and his son, Ibrahim Lodi, remained in power there for nine more years, finally being defeated at the Battle of Panipat in 1526. Between 1540 and 1556, Afghans, beginning with Sher Shah Suri, and Hindu King Hem Chandra Vikramaditya (also called Hemu), ruled the area. It achieved fame as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1658. It is 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.

List of key historical sites

Taj Mahal After 17 years of toil by more than 20,000 craftsmen and laborers, the miraculous construction of the mausoleum was completed in the year 1648. Mirrored by a crystal clear manmade pond in front and the slate blue Yamuna River behind, the peerless monument was named the Taj Mahal. The fort is surrounded by a 70 foot high wall.

It houses the beautiful Pearl Mosque and numerous palaces including the Jahangiri Mahal, Khas Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas, Diwan-i-Am, Machihi Bhawan and Moti Masjid. The fort has four gates and is enclosed by a double battlemented wall of red sand stone.

Sikandra Fort, built by Akbar, is located in the western periphery of the city at a distance of about 10 kms from the city center. The garden is enclosed within the walls in a typical charbagh fashion. The garden houses water channels running through it, fountains and paved causeways.

The tomb built in red sandstone and beautifully carved reflects the persona of the great emperor. The tomb which stands as a graduated pyramid has been built as a five storeyed structure. The main tomb is square in shape and is unlike the rest of mughal buildings. The tomb is beautified with inlay marble work and pattern work. The structure has numerous bays and massive piers and arches.

Fatehpur Sikri shared its imperial duties as a capital city with Agra , where a bulk of the arsenal, treasure hoards, and other reserves were kept at its Red Fort for security. During a crisis, the court, harem, and treasury could be removed to Agra, only 26 miles away, less than a day's march.

Fatehpur Sikri is a World Heritage Site. Some contemporary Indian architects, notably B. V. Doshi , have cited it as an important source of inspiration. Architect or layperson, this city generally captures the imagination and wonder of all who experience its urban spaces and see its buildings.

Ram Bagh is one of the earliest Mughal gardens, laid out in 1528 by Babur the first of the Mughal emperors, a couple of kilometres north of Chini-ka-rauza. It is said that Babar was temporarily buried here before being permanently interred at Kabul in Afghanistan. Its original name was Aram Bagh (Garden of Rest).

Dayal Bagh area is located towards the north of Agra city. The place lies at a distance of about 13 kms from the city center. The place is sacred to the followers of Radha Swami faith.

The prime attraction of the region is the memorial of Swamiji Maharaj. The structure is a blend of mosque, temple and gurudwara architecture. Built in white marble the construction of the lofty structure started on 1904 A.D. and is believed never to be ended.

Jama Masjid Built at a great height, the Jama Masjid has a large courtyard where the faithful can gather to pray. On a tour of Jama Masji with A Journey to India, you can also witness two other imposing structures- the Jammat Khana hall and the Zenana Rauza (the tomb for the women of royal household).

Witness the decorative beauty of Jama Masjid that is replete with inscriptions, inlaid geometric designs and colored tiles- all befitting of a religious place. Tourists visiting the Jama Masjid get to enter through the grand gateway of Buland Darwaza .

Within the mosque complex you will find the shrine of the Sufi religious leader Sheikh Salim Chisti. The lattice marble screens of the tomb are amazing in their workmanship. The tomb was earlier built in red sandstone and parts of the original structure can also be seen. You can see the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti on tours of the Jama Masjid Agra.

Jahangir Mahal Undoubtedly, the most noteworthy building inside Agra Fort is the Jahangir Mahal (Jahangir's Palace), which was the principal zenana palace (palace for women belonging to the royal household), used mainly by the Rajput wives of Akbar.

A splendid gateway leads to an interior courtyard surrounded by grand halls covered with profuse carvings on stone, heavily fashioned brackets, piers, and crossbeams. One can still spot remnants of decoration in gold and blue done in the prevalent Persian style.

Jahangiri Mahal mixes Transoxanian (Central Asian) features, such as the verandah on the east front with its high slender columns (a translation into stone of the timber iwan of vernacular Transoxanian architecture), with courtyard halls styled in the broader Gujarat-Malwa-Rajasthan tradition as it had been passed onto the Mughals by the early 16th-century architecture of Raja Man Singh of Gwalior.

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