Uttar Pradesh Information
Uttar Pradesh Tourism Information
The royal seat and capital of the province of yesteryears, Agra, the city of Mughal might and splendor is about 200 km. away, due south, from Delhi. It is very well connected with not only Delhi but with Jaipur, Khajuraho, Varanasi and many other important cities of the country by rail, road and air routes. Believed tohave been in existence ‘rom the sage Angiras time in the BC ca, its historical reference begins from 1505 AD when Sikandar Lodhi chose it as his important citadel to curb the disturbance it the south-western region of his kingdom. Earlier it had only one fort ‘Badalgarh’ fort. But Agra shot into real prominence during the Mughal Rule, especially during Akbar’s reign when the Emperor chose it to be his capital. Although Shah Jehan’s reign saw Delhi again becoming the capital city, he left an indelible mark on the history of Agra by having the marvellous ‘TajMahal’ constructed in his wife’s memory. The following places are of especial importance for the tourists.
The rusty red sandstone fort of Agra was commenced by Emperor Akbar in 1566 on an older on built by Sher Shah Suns son Salim Shah. It stands majestically on the banks of river Yamuna and four successive Mughal Emperors helped in its construction and beautification. It is open to visitors from morning to sun set. Its 20 meter high massive walls are of 2.5 km. perimeter and contain elegant Moti Masjid and the palaces. A 10 meter moat surrounds the Fort. The entrance to the fort is through Amarsingh Gate. The most remarkable thing about this fort is that it was transformed from a mere military structure into a magnificent palace complex within a very short period of time. The following buildings within the fort are worth visiting.
Built by Shah Jehan in 1646-1653 at the cost of rupees three lakhs, this white and black marbled construction’s courtyard measures 154 feet by 158 feet. The abstract symphony of the three domes rising on the seven arches inspires the beholder with admiration and exaltation. Finely chiselled marble screens on either side of the mosque conceal the chambers meant for the use of royal ladies.
The Hall of Public Audience, an open pavilion was commenced by Shah Jehan hut was not completed until the advent of Aurangzeb. The surrounding arcades are of Akbar’s time. This colannaded hall 192 feet by 69 feet is of red stone, with a throne adcove of inlaid marble at the back which is connected with the royal palaces. Here the emperor sat and listened to public petitions and met the officials. At the foot of the alcove is a square marble slab on which stood the ministers to receive orders. Just in front is Jehangir’s Hauj or cistern built in 1611. Beside this Hall is Mina Bazar where merchants used to sell silks, jewellery, brocades and other costly items to the royal ladies.
The Hall of Private Audience was built in 1637 by Shah Jehan. It marble pavilions are very attractive in their inlaid flower work and details. Here the emperor would sit on his throne and receive important persons and foreign ambassadors. The famous Peacock throne was kept here on the terrace before it was taken to Delhi by Aurangzeb.
Near Diwan-i-Khas stands the tall octagonal tower or the Musamman Burj. Perhaps it was built by Jehangir for his wife Nurjehan and was afterwards used by Mumtaj Mahal, the lady in whose memory Taj stands. It was here that Shahjehan was held as captive by Aurangzeb. The captive emperor also died here, attended only by his faithful daughter Jahanara after seven years of long imprisonment and was buried in the Taj besides his beloved wife. Nearby is the white marble Nagina or Gem Mosque, a mosque built by by Shah Jehan for the use of royal ladies. It has three beautiful marble domes and a marble courtyard for prayers.
This elegant marble structure formed the private apartments of the emperors. It was built in 1636 by Shah Jehan. Once its walls are inlaid with flowers depicted by precious gems hut these were plundered and looted. A staircase to the south of this palace leads to the underground quarters where the emperor and the royal ladies retired to escape the stifling summer heat of Agra.
On the north-east of the Khas Mahal stands the Shish Mahal or the Palace of Mirrors. This zanana (ladies) bath and the dressing room were built in 1637 and once its walls and ceilings were inlaid with dazzling small mirrors.
In front of the Khas Mahal, is the Anguri Bagh surrounded by arcades on the three sides. The Anguri Bagh or the Grape Garden takes its name after the grape vines which it once had.
The biggest private residence inside the fort was built by Akbar for his son Jehangir’s dwelling. This building is remarkable for it reflects the Fort’s transition from purely military structure into the elegant and luxurious edifice. Its courtyards surrounded by pavilions, have attractive frescoes and gilded decorations though now faded to a great extent. On one side of this set of palaces is Jodhabai’s apartment. Jodhabai was Jehangir’s mother and a Hindu lady by birth. This set of palaces arc believed to he the first set of buildings with distinct Mughal Epicurean inclination.
Opposite the Delhi Gate of the Fort, stands Jama Masjid built in 1644 by Shah Jehan at a cost of five lakh rupees (then). An inscription over the main gateway says that it was built in the name of Jahanara, the eldest daughter of Shah Jehan. It is in the same style as the Jama Masjid of Delhi hut, far less impressive in design and execution.
Itinad-ud-Daulah ‘s Tomb
It was built by NurJehan between 1622 and 1628 in the memory of his father Mirza Ghias-ud-Din Beg. Nurjehan’s mother is also buried here in the central chamber. This elegant marble structure was the forerunner of the Taj Mahal. The four towers at the corners, the familiar Persian motifs of inlaid floral palterns. etc., clearly foreshadow the famous Taj.
Sikandara (Akbar’s Mausoleum)
Built by Akbar himself, and completed by Jahangir in 1613, stands this grand building. It is characterised by a fusion of Hindu and Muslim art and architecture. The tomb stands amidst huge gardens, enclosed by four high battlemented walls. The main entrance. an imposing red stone gateway, has a Persian inscription which says it was completed by Jehangir in 1613. The three storied minarets at the four corners is an example of the beginning of inlay work in stone.
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