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Agra
Also known as “City of Taj”, it is famous as being home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Agra was once the capital of the Mughal Empire and even today it lives in its beautiful past. Located at about 204 kms. south of Delhi, Agra is one of the most famous tourist destinations of India for spending vacations. Situated on the west bank of River Yamuna, it is a part of the great Northern Indian plains. Agra is also the gateway to the wonderful city of Fatehpur Sikri.

There are very few cities in the world that can match the history and heritage of Agra . During the 16th and 17th century, Agra witnessed a colossal building activity and it was during this period that the symbol of love – Taj Mahal, was built. Badal Singh established Agra in the year 1475 and it finds mention even in the Mahabharata as " Agra ban". The Lodhis chose Agra as their capital, but Babar defeated the Lodhis to capture Agra and the whole of Mughal Empire as well.

Climate

Agra is situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Being a part of the great Northern Plain, the climate of Agra is extreme. Summers are extremely hot with the maximum temperature going as high as 46 degree celsius, while winters are cold and foggy as well. Monsoons bring some heavy rains and high humidity. So spending winter vacations will prove to be great.

How to Reach

By Air : There are regular flights from other cities of India especially Delhi, its closest metropolis.
By Rail : There are many trains from Delhi that connects Agra .
By Road : There are plenty of AC and non-AC coaches and cars available for Agra . Driving time is about 4 hours.

Attractions of Agra

Taj Mahal
One of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal is situated in Agra . This architectural beauty stands proof of the ultimate realisation of Emperor Shahjahan's dream. The work on Taj Mahal started from 1631 AD, and it took 22 years to complete this awe-inspiring structure. An estimated 20,000 people worked to complete this mausoleum, which stands proudly on the banks of river Yamuna. It is the most important tourist destination of Agra . Emperor Shah Jahan created Taj Mahal in memory of his beloved wife, Arjumand Bano Begum or more popularly known as Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1630 AD. As her last wish, she wanted her husband, emperor Shah Jahan to build a tomb in her memory.

Thus, began the work on Taj Mahal. The material, which was used to build the Taj, was brought in from all over India and even central Asia. Red sandstone was brought from Fatehpur Sikri, Jasper from Punjab, Jade and Crystal from China, Turquoise from Tibet, Lapis Lazuli and Sapphire from Sri Lanka, Coal and Cornelian from Arabia and diamonds from Panna. The chief building material, the white marbles were bought from Nagaur, Rajasthan.

Agra Fort
The great Agra Fort stands at 9 metres wide, 10 metres deep and an impressive 22 metres high. This monument, which stands proudly at 2 kms. northwest of the Taj Mahal was constructed by the Mughals during 1565 and 1571. The Mughal emperor Akbar laid down the foundation stones, though it was completed in 1571, during the time of Shah Jahan – Akbar’s grandson. Shah-Jahan replaced the structures of the Agra Fort extensively though some have survived. Among these are the Delhi Gate, the Amar Singh Gate, Akbari Mahal and the Jehangiri Mahal .

Some important buildings inside the fort are:

Diwan – I – Aam
While spending vacations in Agra you will come across to variant buildings, in which one is Diwan – I – Aam or the hall of public audience is made of red sandstone. It was used by the emperor to listen to the petitions of the commoners. It lies just in front of “Machchi Bhawan” or the fish enclosure. It was constructed by Shah Jahan, who replaced an earlier wooden structure. The throne in the Diwan-I-Aam was completed after 7 years of extensive work and it was here that Shah Jahan had kept the famous “peacock throne”, which was shifted to Delhi by Aurangzeb and was finally taken away to Iran.

Diwan – I – Khas
Another, very important building situated inside the Agra Fort is the ‘Diwan-I-Khas’ or the hall for private audience, which was used to receive kings, dignitaries and ambassadors. Situated to the right of the ‘Sheesh-Mahal’ or the glass palace, the pillars inside it are constructed in a beautiful pattern with semi precious stones. Presently, entry is not allowed inside the Diwan-I-Khas.

Sheesh Mahal
Just below the Diwan-I-Khas, at the northeastern side of Khas Mahal courtyard is the Sheesh Mahal or the Glass palace. It was the royal dressing room, which has 2 large halls of equal size, each measuring 11.5m x 6.40m. The walls of the Sheesh Mahal are laid with tiny mirrors, which represent some of the best specimen of glasswork ever seen.

Jehangiri Mahal
Undoubtedly, the most noteworthy building in the Agra Fort, as one enters it, is the Jehangiri Mahal . Akbar built the Jehangir Palace as a residence for his son Jehangir, which was also used by the Rajput wives of Akbar. It is built of stone and is simply decorated on the exterior. However a beautiful gateway leads to an even beautiful interior, which is decorated in gold and blue. While vacationing in Agra you can explore Jehangiri Mahal, the most important building remaining from Akbar’s period as his successors demolished several of his other structures.

Itam – Ud – Daula

It is the first tomb in India made entirely of marble. Built by empress Noor Jehan, this is a mausoleum overlooking the river Yamuna and is a tomb of Mir Ghiyas Beg, a minister in the court of Shah Jahan. We can see the fusion of both Indian and Persian architecture in it. The use of arched entrances and octagonal shaped flowers signify the Persian influence while the absence of a dome at the top and the use of canopies hints towards the Indian architecture.

Fatehpur Sikri

Situated about 40 kms. from Agra , Fatehpur Sikri is an imperial city built in honor of Sufi Saint Salim Chisti in the year 1571 by Mughal emperor Akbar. The numerous palaces, halls and mosques in Fatehpur Sikri are a pure work of art, typical of the Mughals. Though the general layout of the different buildings are of Islamic style, their arches, stairs etc. are of Indian style. It was also the capital of Akbar for 15 long years. If you are looking for something that shows the magnificence of the Mughals, Fatehpur Sikri is an absolute must see. Some of the other important buildings in Fatehpur Sikri are – Naubat Khana, Diwan-I-Aam, Diwan-I-Khas, Jodabai’s Palace, Panch Mahal and Buland Darwaza.