The Golden Triangle Tour (Part 2: Agra): The Immortal Love Story
On the golden triangle tour, we travel from the vibrant capital city of Delhi to the city of immortal love, Agra. The distance from Delhi to Agra is around 200 km and it is easily accessible by road & rail.
The city’s history dates back to the Mahabharata period (1,000 BC), however, its golden age began with the Mughal rule. It was known then as Akbarabād and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under the Emperors Akbar, Jahāngīr and Shāh Jahān. Shāh Jahān later shifted his capital to Shāhjahānabād in the year1649.Since Akbarabād was one of the most important cities in India under the Mughals, it witnessed a lot of building activity and the city today is an excellent showcase of mughal period architecture with a number of forts, mausoleums, gardens, tombs and other structures located all over the city.
The city is most famous for Taj Mahal, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan’s favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, and one of three World Heritage Sites in Agra.
The Tāj Mahal was built by the Mughal king Shāh Jahān as the final resting place for his beloved wife, Mumtāz Mahal. The king immortalized his love for his wife Mumtaz by building the most beautiful mausoleum, which has stood the test of time. Finished in marble, it is perhaps India’s most fascinating and beautiful monument. This perfectly symmetrical monument took 22 years (1630–1652) of labour and 20,000 workers, masons and jewelers to build and is set amidst landscaped gardens. Built by the Persian architect, Ustād ‘Īsā, the Tāj Mahal is on the bank of the Yamuna River. It can be observed from Agra Fort from where Emperor Shāh Jahān gazed at it, for the last eight years of his life, a prisoner of his son Aurangzeb. It is an acknowledged masterpiece of symmetry. Verses of the Koran are inscribed on it and at the top of the gate are twenty-two small domes, signifying the number of years the monument took to build. The Tāj Mahal was built on a marble platform that stands above a sandstone one. The most elegant dome of the Tāj Mahal has a diameter of 60 feet (18 m), and rises to a height of 80 feet (24 m); directly under this dome is the tomb of Mumtāz Mahal. Shah Jahān’s tomb was erected next to hers by his son Aurangzeb. The interiors are decorated by fine inlay work, incorporating semi-precious stones.
The other places of interest in Agra are:
The fort is also known as Lal Qila , Fort Rougeand Red Fort of Agra . It is about 2.5 km northwest of its much more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal . The fort can be more accurately described as a walled palatial city. By most estimates, the fort was taken over from the Lodis by the Moghuls in the late 16th century, by Akbar the Great. During his reign, he shifted the government of his empire from Delhi to Agra. Because of this, much of Agra flourished and the site of the old Lodis fort began changing into more of a royal estate. Akbar tended to build from red sandstone, often inlaid with white marble and intricate decorations.
Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb isa Mughal mausoleum in the city of Agra in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh . Often described as ‘jewel box’, sometimes called the Baby Taj , the tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daulah is often regarded as a “draft” of the Taj Mahal. Along with the main building, the structure consists of numerous outbuildings and gardens. The tomb, built between 1622 and 1628 represents the transition between the first phase of monumental Mughal architecture – primarily built from red sandstone with marble decorations, as in Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi and Akbar’s tomb in Sikandra – to its second phase, based on white marble and pietra dura inlay – most elegantly realized in the Taj Mahal.
The mausoleum was commissioned by Nur Jahan , the wife of Jahangir , for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg , who had been given the title of Itimâd-ud-Daulâ (pillar of the state). Mirza Ghiyas Beg is also the grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal (originally named Arjumand Bano, daughter of Asaf Khan), the wife of the emperor Shah Jahan , responsible for the building of the Taj Mahal.
Fatehpur Sikri was the political capital of India’s Mughal Empire under Akbar ‘s reign, from 1571 until 1585 , when it was abandoned, ostensibly due to lack of water. 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.
It 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 constitutes an extension of the city. The place lies at a distance of about 13 kms from the city center. Although it forms the peripheral regions of the city but the place has a good influence of the city.
Built at a great height, the Jama Masjid has a large courtyard where the faithful can gather to pray. On a tour of Jama Masjid, you can also witness two other imposing structures- the Jammat Khana hall and the Zenana Rauza (the tomb for the women of royal household).
The Mausoleum of Akbar the Great is situated about 10 km from Agra, in Sikandra. Akbar started the construction but it was completed by his son Jahangir in 1605. It is built partially in red sandstone and in marble, with a mixture of Hindu and Muslim design elements.
After experiencing immortal love and some amazing mughal architecture at Agra, it is now time to head for Jaipur – the best showcase of royal Rajasthan.