Agra came into limelight during the rule of Afghan King Sikandar Lodhi – who had made it the capital of his empire. Later in 1526 A.D., the Mughal Emperor Babar took upon himself the task for rendering Agra, a unique character and beauty of its own.
Places of Interest
A world-renowned wonder, Taj Mahal sits pretty on the northern side of this green paradise.
It looks the same from all the four sides. The Quranic inscriptions on its four entrances are carved in such subtle increase in size that may appear to be of the same size from top to bottom.
Shahjahan invited master craftsmen from as far as Italy and Persia to help design his ambitious tribute to love.
The Taj Mahal is phenomenal not in its beauty alone that shines forth, but in the deep planning and design that went into its making, and the ethereal idea of immortalizing love. Delicate carvings in marble vie with gorgeous pietra dura for attention.
Lapis-lazuli, Cornelian, Mother of pearl, Agate and Emerald are inlaid in floral and geometrical patterns in the marble itself.
Work on this enchanting mausoleum on the bank of Yamuna started in 1631 and it took 22 years to complete with the help of an estimated 20,000 workers.
The forbidding exteriors of this fort hide an inner paradise.
There are a number of exquisite buildings like Moti Masjid, a white marble mosque akin to a perfect pearl; Diwan-I-Am, Diwan-I-Khaas, Musamman Burj – where Shahjahan died in 1666 A.D., Jahangir’s Palace; Khaas Mahal and Shish Mahal
Itmad Ud Daulas Tomb ( Baby TajMahal )
Sikandera ( Akbar’s Tomb )
This mausoleum is situated on the out skirts of the Agra City. It houses the mortal remains of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, who, during his lifetime itself had completed the tomb and laid out a beautiful garden. However, the topmost portion of mausoleum in marble was constructed by his son, Jahangir.
The shape of tomb is pyramidal and consists of five storeys. The cenotaph is at a level below the ground level, while the false cenotaph is at the top floor. The entire tomb is constructed of red sandstone but for the top storey which is constructed in white marble. The ground floor is surrounded by cloisters except at the centre on the southern side. These cloisters are divided by massive arches and piers divisible into many bays.
The square storeys have arcaded verandah, with arcades and cluster of kiosks on each side. Some of the kiosks in second storey have marble pyramidal roofs while the rest are crowned by cupolas. Each angle at the third storey has a small square room.
The top most storey is entirely made up of white marble. It has a square court, which is open to sky. The central courtyard is enclosed in all the sides by slender arches and piers and divided into bays, which has been roofed in the trabeate pattern. At the centre of the courtyard lies a square platform, over which a white marble cenotaph is laid out. This cenotaph is profusely carved with arabesque and floral patterns.
Fateh Pur Sikri
Akbar (1556-1605), grandson of Babur, shifted his residence and court from Agra to Sikri, for a period of 13 years, from 1572 to 1585 to honour the Sufi Saint Sheikh Salim Chishti, who resided here (in a cavern on the ridge). Akbar revered him very much as the Saint had blessed him with a son who was named Salim in 1569. He raised lofty buildings for his use, and houses for the public. Thus grew, a great city with charming palaces and institutions. Akbar gave it the name of Fathabad and which in later days came to be known as “Fathpur Sikri”.
Here practically, all Mughal institutions such as the ‘Ibadat-Khanah’, ‘Din-i-Ilahi’, ‘Tarikh-i-Ilahi’ , Jharokha-Darshan, the doctrine of Sulh-i-Kul and policy of liberal patronage to indigenous arts and literatures, were founded. It was also here that workshops of various handicrafts were established.
Sikri was the first planned city of the Mughals. The sloping levels of the city were connected into terraces which were utilised for various complexes such as Jami masjid, Buland-Darwazah and tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti; Khass Mahal, Shahi-Bazar, Mina-Bazar, the Panch-Mahal, Khwabgah, Diwan-i-Khass, Anup-Talao, Chaupar and Diwan-i-Am. The efficient system of drainage and water-supply adopted here suggest an extremely intelligent town-planning by the Mughal emperor.