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Taj Mahal, Agra

The name of Agra, is supposed to be derived from the word Agrabana meaning Paradise, as mentioned in the longest Indian epic, Mahabharata. However, there are several legends that follow behind the name of the place. Agra is considered as the third biggest city in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. The city is situated on the banks of river Yamuna. It shares its political boundaries with Fatehabad to the South as well as some parts of the East, Bharatpur to its West, Firozabad on the East and Mathura to its North.

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Agra is a historical resort with exquisite Mughal epoch buildings, world heritage architecture and forts. The state takes pride in hosting innumerable number of nationwide and global tourists throughout every year. Agra enjoys a sub tropical climate for maximum part of the year, being located on the Indo-Gangetic plain.

The chief attractions for tourists in Agra are the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri and Agra Fort among others like Itmad-ud-Daulah’s tomb, Akbar’s tomb or Sikandra,  Chini Ka rauza, Jama Masjid, Mariam’s tomb, Ram Baagh, Swami Bagh Samadhi, Mankameswar Temple,Keetham Lake and Mehtab Bagh.

Taj Mahal
One of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal is one of the most magnificent buildings of the world with excellent and unique work of architecture. It is situated on the bank of the river Yamuna.  Apart from the Agra Fort and the Fatehpur Sikri, Taj Mahal is also considered to be one of the three World Heritage Sites in Agra. According to history, Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is supposed to be the latter’s interment. It is believed to be the world’s finest and most mesmerizing monument built of white marble.  This enticing edifice took almost twenty two years for the completion of its construction work. As per statistics, 20000 labourers, jewelers and masons were employed for the purpose. The main architect was Ustad Isa, who was roped in for the project from Persia, under whose guidance the monument was built. Verses from the holy book of Islam, the Koran, are found inscribed on it and even the number of years it had taken for completion of the work is also mentioned. The interiors are decked up with numerous precious stones of the Mughal era. It is erected on a marble platform above sandstone. The main dome, of the monument has a diameter of 60 feet or 18 metres and rises up to a height of above 80 feet or 24 metres over the structure. Under this dome lies the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. The tomb of Shah Jahan was put up beside hers by his son Aurangzeb. Ironically, Shah Jahan was arrested and kept in the Agra Fort during his later years by his son Aurangzeb. Those eight long years, spending his days as a prisoner, Shah Jahan’s only solace was the view of the masterpiece of art, the Taj Mahal on the river Yamuna, which looked like a mirage from the Agra Fort. Rested amidst lush green gardens, the Taj Mahal appears to be an idyllic creation, especially on a full moon night.

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Agra Fort
Although a stone inscription near the gate of the fort mentions that the fort was built before 1000 followed by renovations made by Akbar, yet it is believed to have been built by Akbar in 1565. Later on it was turned into a palace during the reign of Shah Jahan. Initially the fort was made of red sandstone. However, when it was renovated during Shah Jahan’s time, pietra dura and marble stones were used. The fort is semi-circular in shape. One can have a very good view of the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort. The main buildings seen in the fort are Diwan-e-khas and Diwan-e-aam (halls of special audience and general mass), Khaas Mahal, Mussaman Burj, Jehangir’s Palace, the Pearl Mosque and the mirrored hall, the Sheesh Mahal.

Fatehpur Sikri
Located about 35 kilometres from the city of Agra, was built by Akbar who intended to have his headquarters here and shifted his capital here. However, due to scarcity of water he had to withdraw his plans. It was named after a place called Sikri, where Babar defeated Rana Sanga in a fierce battle. The main attraction is the Buland Darwaza or the mighty gateway built by Akbar in 1601 to venerate his triumph over Gujarat. It is the world’s highest gateway, 53.63 metres high with a width of 35 metres. It has got religious inscriptions on it, reveling Emperor Akbar’s tolerance to all religions. It is built of red and buff sandstones with inlaying of white and black marbles. A flight of 42 steps lead to the Buland Darwaza.

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