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Agra City Map

Agra has a rich historical background, which is amply evident from the numerous historical monuments in and around the city. The earliest reference for Agra comes from the epical age, when Mahabharata refer Agra as Agravana. In the sources prior to this, Agra has been referred as Arya Griha or the abode of the Aryans. The first person who referred Agra by its modern name was Ptolemy.

Though the heritage of Agra city is linked with the Mughal dynasty, numerous other rulers also contributed to the rich past of this city. Modern Agra was founded by Sikandar Lodhi (Lodhi dynasty; Delhi Sultanate) in the 16th century. Babar (founder of the Mughal dynasty) also stayed for sometime in Agra and introduced the concept of square Persian-styled gardens here. Emperor Akbar built the Agra fort and Fatehpur Sikri near Agra. Fatehpur Sikri remained his capital for around fifteen years after which the city was left isolated in mysterious circumstances. Jahangir beautified Agra with palaces and gardens despite spending most of his time in Kashmir with which he was passionately attached.

Agra came to its own when Shahjahan ascended to the throne of Mughal Empire. He marked the zenith of Mughal architecture, when he built the Taj in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. In his later years, Shahjahan shifted his capital to the new city of Shahjahanabad in Delhi and ruled from there. Shahjahan was dethroned in 1658 by his son, Aurangzeb who imprisoned him in the Agra Fort. Aurangzeb shifted the capital back to Agra till his death. After the death of Aurangzeb, Mughal Empire could not touch its peak and many regional kingdoms emerged. The post-Mughal era of Agra saw the rule of the Jats, Marathas and finally the British taking over the city.

Origin and Development

Agra is the city of the inimitable Taj Mahal. The story of Agra beigns much earlier then the Taj, However it finds mention in the epic Mahabharata when it was called Agrabana are Paradise. Ptolemy, the famous second century A.D. geographer, marked it on his map of the world as Agra. Tradition and legend ascribe the present city of Raja Badal Singh (around 1475 A.D.) whose Fort, Badalgarh, Stood on or near the site of the present Fort. However, the 12th century A.D. persian poet Salman, too, Speaks of a desperate assault on the forrtress of Agra, then held by one King Jaipal, by sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. It was Mughals who finally nurtured Agra with the finest monuments architects could design : The Taj Mahal  of Shah Jhan, Agra Fort of Akbar, Itmad-Ud-Daulah and neighbouring Sikandra are but few of the many that spangle the city, each of which stands in mute testimony to the city's grandur over the ages.

Taj Mahotsav

Taj Mahotsav is a grand 10 day long fiesta which enthralls the one who witnesses. The festival is held each year in Feb/March at Shilpgram, near the Taj Mahal. Many of the famed Indian artists perform at this prestigious event. The Taj Food Festival is another attraction of this event.

Ram Barat is another gala event which is celebrated by organizing the marriage procession of Sri Rama each year before Dussehra. The procession passes through different parts of the town. Bateshwar Fair is organized in Bateshwar which is 70 km from Agra. It is celebrated in the name of the presiding deity of the region, Bateshwar Mahadeo. The fair is organized every year during the months of October or November honoring Lord Shiva.

Kailash Fair is another event to look out for if one is visiting Agra. It is organized in the Kailash temple, which is situated just 12 km away. An attractive fair is organized each year in the honour of Lord Shiva. The fiesta occurs in the month of August/ September every year.

The Sharadotsav held in October, is a cultural show with the country’s leading dancers and musicians performing at historical locations in the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.

Taj Mahal

You might be surprised to learn that there is so much more to see and do in the fascinating city of Agra than ‘just’ the mighty Taj Mahal; the Mughal rulers left exquisite forts, elaborate tombs, decorative mausoleums and awe-inspiring monuments for curious travellers with more than just a day to spare.

Taj Mahal – So we can’t start a list of the top things to do in Agra without mentioning the most famous structure in the world: the mighty Taj Mahal. Both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the monument stands as the ultimate testament of love; for Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan constructed this white marble wonder in 1632 for his queen, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is located on the banks of River Yamuna and is best captured either at sunrise or sunset.

Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah – Dubbed the ‘Baby Taj’ thanks to its resemblance, the tomb is an elaborate Mughal mausoleum dedicated to I’timād-ud-Daulah, although this wad actually built first! It was constructed in 1625 by Empress Noor Jahan to commemorate her father. The tomb is built from yellow marble, punctuated with a black and white black marble inlay. The most striking thing about the tomb is its feminine qualities.

Agra Fort – Emperor Akbar constructed UNESCO-listed Agra Fort in 1565 and is similar in layout to Delhi’s Red Fort, yet it’s much better preserved. The exquisite design houses many other ornate buildings, such as the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque), Diwan-i-Am (hall of public audience) and the octagonal tower of the Musamman Burj where Emperor Shah Jahan died.

Jama Masjid – Also known as the Friday Mosque, Jama Masjid overlooks Agra Fort. This mosque is one of the largest in India and is culturally important thanks to its Iranian architecture. It was constructed in 1648 by Jahanara Begum, who was the daughter of Empress Mumtaz Mahal and Emperor Shah Jahan.

Tomb of Akbar the Great – The Mughal masterpiece commemorates Emperor Akbar. Located in the Sikandra district of Agra, the tomb covers some 48 hectares. The tomb was initiated by Akbar himself in 1605 and was completed by his son Jehangir eight years later. The tomb complex is richly decorated in a multitude of styles. The main structure is built in red sandstone surrounded by a four square formal garden. The tomb is reached via the ornate marble gateway.

Ram Bagh – The delectable Ram Bagh is the earliest example of a Mughal styled garden in India and was created by the Mughal Emperor Babur in 1528.

Mankameshwar Temple – Devoted to Lord Shiva, the Mankameshwar Temple is located close to the Agra Fort railway station and tends to attract mostly locals rather than tourists.

Mehtab Bagh – Located opposite the Yamuna River, are the beautiful Mehtab Bagh Botanical Gardens, where you can spy on the Taj Mahal from a (relatively crowd-free) distance.

Dayal Bagh – This pure white marble memorial to Radhaswamy Samadhi is highly ornate and the 110 feet tall structure has, deliberately, been under a constant state of construction for the last 100 years.

Fatehpur Sikri – This UNESCO World Heritage Site was constructed as the capital of the Mughal Empire in the 16th century.  Fatehpur Sikri, aka the City of Victory, was built by Emperor Akbar and contains exquisite palaces, hidden courtyards and the Jama Masjid Mosque. It was later abandoned by the ruler, however the reasons remain unknown.

Agra Museum – Don’t miss the small museum located within the Taj Mahal gardens which is home to original architectural plans of the mighty Taj. There are also special plates on display which break into pieces should the food placed upon them contain poison.

Kailash Temple – Strategically located on the banks of the Yamuna River at Sikandra, this majestic temple welcomes all to prayer and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is part of the four temple complex that stands at each corner of Agra.

Mariam’s Tomb – This tomb contains ornate carvings and legend has it that it was built in 1611 for the wife of Emperor Akbar – Mariyam, aka Mariam who hailed from Goa.

Soami Bagh – The gardens of the unfinished Samadhi dedicated to the Radha Soami religion (see above) are more complete and a good place to get some respite from the heat of the city.

Chini-Ka-Roza – Emperor Shah Jahan’s Prime Minister,  Allama Afzel Khal Mullah of Shiraz is commemorated at this memorial, which is elaborately decorated with a dome of blue glazed tiles.

Mathura-Vrindavan – Make the journey to Mathura which is hailed as the birthplace of Krishna which is surrounded by a multitude of temples and shrines all dedicated to this god.

Taj Mahotsav – Catch this ten day cultural festival which is held each February/March time at the Shilpgram, which is close to the Taj Mahal. Taj Mahotsav is a colourful lively festival celebrating arts, cultures and crafts.

Sur Surover – For a little slice of peace, head out to Sur Surover, aka Keetham Lake which covers 2.5 square kilometers. Teeming with water birds and various fish species, the lake is nestled within the Surdas Reserve Forest and is a great spot for picnicking families.

Balkeshwar Temple – Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Balkeshwar Temple lies on the banks of the Yamuna River.

Bhartpur Bird Sanctuary – Discover India’s endemic water birds at this bird sanctuary with the Keoladeo Ghana National Park which welcomes its most famous resident each winter; the very rare Siberian Crane.

Rawli Maharaj Temple – This is one of the oldest temples within Agra City on the Fatehpur Sikri and is typically busiest when locals meet during all Hindu festivals.

Amazing Facts About Agra
Taj Mahal

Agra is defined by the presence of the Taj Mahal on its soil. Also well known is the monument's ode to true love, as professed by its builder Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The pillars around the final resting place of this couple are built slightly tilted outwards. In case of an earthquake, the structure would collapse away from the tombs. Also visit the Agra Museum in the gardens here. It displays plates that allegedly shatter when used to serve poisoned food!

Taj Ganj

People gasp at the idea that the artisans who made the Taj Mahal from scratch eventually lost their arms, so the gorgeous structure would never be replicated. Maybe if you travel around here, the congested network of homes where the labourers of the Taj allegedly set up home, you could find someone to validate the horrific story!

Agra Fort

Tourist sites in the city like the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri have been titled as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The fort is spectacular in conception and build. Possibly why it made a special appearance in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mystery called 'The Sign of the Four'!

Tomb of Akbar the Great

Mughal ruler Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar was a very interesting figure in Mughal history. Although he was dyslexic, he surrounded himself with the best of writers, musicians, artists and learned men. The Navratnas who were part of his elaborate darbar included the fabled musician Tansen and nobleman Birbal. He also founded a religion called Din-e-Ilahi, that combined Islamic and Hindu teachings to create an ethical way of living. Don't miss visiting his elaborate tomb if you're in town.

Itmad-ud-daulah

While on the subject of tombs, the Itmad-ud-daulah deserves mention. It's the mausoleum of Mir Ghiyas Beg, a minister in the court of emperor Shah Jahan. This was India's very first tomb made completely of white marble, rather than the usual red sandstone seen in Mughal monuments. This possibly gave it the nickname 'Baby Taj'. Still need more reasons to check it out?

Chini ka Rauza

Which is India's first building exclusively decorated using glazed tiles all over its surface? Oddly, its a mausoleum in Agra, built by the man himself before his death! Mulla Shukrullah Shirazi, Prime Minister during Shah Jahan's reign and also a famous poet, built his tomb in 1639 in stunning Indo-Persian style of architecture. While not maintained as it should be, it still retains the royal past in its faded exteriors.

Confused how to go to Agra? How to reach Agra easily?

Now reaching Agra became more convenient than earlier. If anyone is planning one day trip to Agra then Gatiman Express is best option. The train which is slated to run at 160 km/h, is targeted at tourists visiting Agra and is seen covering the distance of around 200 km in 100 minutes.

The 12050 Nizamuddin - Agra - Nizamuddin Gatiman Express, as it is called, will run six days in a week except Fridays.

These are the following facts that you would like to know about the train:

1) The train will start journey from Nizamuddin at 8.10 AM to reach Agra at 9.50 AM.

2) The train will return from Agra at 5.50 PM and likely to reach Nizamuddin at 7.30 PM.

3) The train will have two Executive AC Chair Car and eight AC Chair Car coaches.

4) The passengers will be welcomed with roses, with soft music playing in the coaches.

Visitor can go to Agra in morning from Gatiman Express and return back by evening from Gatiman Express itself.

Gatiman Express, Delhi to Agra, Agra to Delhi

How to reach Agra? Hoe to reach Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal, an embodiment of love and romance, is located in the city of Agra that lies approximately 204 km to the south of Delhi. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the monument attracts hordes of domestic and international tourists from all over the world, all year round. Such is the magnetic appeal and charismatic essence of the monument that visitors can never have enough of it ever and would want to visit it time and again. In case you have made up your mind to be enthralled by the excellence of this architectural brilliance, and are planning a trip to explore the beauty of this splendid monument, then the very first question that would come to your mind in how to reach the Taj Mahal. We have devoted this section on discussing various ways of traveling to the Taj Mahal in India.

By Air

The fastest way of reaching Taj Mahal, Agra is by air. The city of Taj, Agra, has its own airport that is around 7 km from the city center. Indian Airlines operates flights to Agra on a daily basis.

By Rail

There is a good network of trains connecting Agra with the rest of the country. Apart from the main railway station of Agra Cantonment, there are other two stations also, that of Raja-ki-Mandi and Agra Fort. The main trains connecting Agra with Delhi are Palace on Wheels, Shatabdi, Rajdhani, and Taj Express.

By Road

There are regular bus services from Agra to a number of important cities. The main bus stand of Idgah has a number of buses running for Delhi, Jaipur, Mathura, Fatehpur-Sikri, etc.

Local Transportation

After reaching the city also, you need some sort of local transport to reach Taj Mahal. You can easily get taxi, tempo, auto-rickshaw and cycle rickshaw in the city that will take you to your destination. Prepaid taxis are also available if you want to visit the various places near the city. For the adventurous kind, there are bicycles that can be hired on hourly basis from different parts of the city. Since diesel and petrol vehicle are not permitted in the vicinity of Taj Mahal area, you can find battery-operated buses, horse-driven tongas, rickshaws and other pollution-free vehicles there.

Incredible Bihar

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