Agra, a romantic city in India, is known for the marble edifice 'Taj Mahal' Besides Taj Mahal, Agra is also known for the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, the red sandstone city made by Emperor Akbar.s
Agra is a medieval city situated on the banks of the river Yamuna. Sultan Sikandar Lodi, the Ruler of Delhi Sultanate founded it in the year 1504. After the sultan's death the city passed on to his son Sultan Ibrahim Lodi who ruled his Sultanate from Agra until he fell fighting to Babur in the First battle of Panipat fought in 1526.
Agra has an average elevation of 171 metres (561 ft). On the north it is bound by Mathura, on the south by Dhaulpur, on the east by Firozabad, on the south-east by Fatehabad and on the west by Bharatpur. Agra is the third largest city of Uttar Pradesh.
Agra, located on the Indo-Gangetic plain has a sub-tropical climate, with long, hot summers from April to September. The monsoon months from July to September see about 67 cm of rainfall annually. Winters last from November to February, with day time temperatures averaging about 24 degrees, while night temperatures are around 6 degrees. The best months to visit Agra are March, October and November.
The Taj Mahal is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife. Taj Mahal means "Crown Palace"; one of the wife's names was Mumtaz Mahal, "Ornament of the Palace". The Taj is one of the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tombs in the world, one of the masterpieces of Indian Muslim architecture, and one of the great sites of the world's heritage.
The fort is similar in layout to the Red Fort in Delhi, but considerably better preserved, as much of Delhi Fort was razed by the British after the Mutiny. As much as palace as a defensive structure, it is also constructed mainly from red sandstone.
Emperor Akbar, king at 14, began consolidating his empire and, as an assertion of his power built the fort in Agra between 1565 and 1571, at the same time as Humayun's Tomb in Delhi. Emperor Shah Jahan added to the fort and ended up a prisoner in it. The fort has a beautiful view of his masterpiece, the Taj Mahal, on a clear day.
Sikandra, Akbar's Tomb (10 km north of Agra) The tomb of Akbar lies here in the centre of the large garden. Akbar started its construction himself but it was completed by his son Jehangir who significantly modified the original plans which accounts for the somewhat cluttered architectural lines of the tomb. Four red sandstone's gates lead to the tomb complex: one is Muslim, one Hindu, one christian and one is Akbar's patent mixture. Akbar's mausoleum is open from sunrise to sunset.
Empress Nur Jehan built Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb, sometimes called the Baby Taj, for her father, Ghias-ud-Din Beg, the Chief Minister of Emperor Jahangir. Small in comparison to many other Mughal-era tombs, it is sometimes described as a jewel box. Its garden layout and use of white marble, pietra dura, inlay designs and latticework presage many elements of the Taj Mahal.
West from Akbar's Tomb on Agra-Delhi highway Jahangir constructed the Tomb in the memory of his mother Mariam Zammani. The grave is made of white marble. This building is now in a ruined condition and has in its vicinity, a Christian Mission School and a church. It is said that Akbar constructed it in the memory of his Christian wife.
Jama Masjid A large mosque attributed to Princess Jahanara Begum, built in 1648 during the reign of the father Shah Jahan, it is notable for its unusual dome and absence of minarets.
A memorial dedicated to the Prime Minister of Shah Jahan, Allama Afzel Khal Mullah Shukrullah of Shiraz, notable for its dome of blue glazed tiles.
10 km north of Agra, the white marble samadhi of the Radah Soami religion is under construction since 1904 and is not expected to be completed for the next many years. One can see pietra dura inlaid marblework actually being worked on.
The first Mughal gardens were built by the first Mughal Emperor Babar, 500 m North of the Chini Ka Rauza.
Directly across the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal, these botanical gardens give you an opportunity to view the Taj Mahal from a distance. Or, walk past the entrance and straight to the sandy banks of the river to view the Taj Mahal.
Balkeshwar Temple - at Balkeswar, at the river side of Yamuna, it is a temple of Lord shiva"
Kailash Temple - at Sikandra, at the river side of Yamuna is a Lord Shiva Temple.
Mankameshwar Temple - at Rawatpara, near Agra Fort railway station
Taj Mahotsavs - The Taj Mahotsav is a 10 day festival held in February every year at Shilpgram, near the Tah Mahal.