2016

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.

The Taj Mahal Agra

The Taj Mahal (Crown of Palaces) is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–1658), to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The tomb is the centrepiece of a 42-acre complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.

Taj Mahal, Agra, IndiaConstruction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (US$827 million). The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.

The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". Described by the Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, as "the tear-drop on the cheek of time", it is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India's rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts 7–8 million visitors a year. In 2007, it was declared a winner of the New7Wonders of the World (2000–2007) initiative.

Inspiration

Mumtaz Mahal
The Taj Mahal was commissioned by Shah Jahan in 1631, to be built in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, a Persian princess who died giving birth to their 14th child, Gauhara Begum. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632. The imperial court documenting Shah Jahan's grief after the death of Mumtaz Mahal illustrate the love story held as the inspiration for Taj Mahal. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1643 and the surrounding buildings and garden were finished about five years later.

Architecture and design

The Taj Mahal incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian and earlier Mughal architecture. Specific inspiration came from successful Timurid and Mughal buildings including; the Gur-e Amir (the tomb of Timur, progenitor of the Mughal dynasty, in Samarkand), Humayun's Tomb, Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb (sometimes called the Baby Taj), and Shah Jahan's own Jama Masjid in Delhi. While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily constructed of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones. Buildings under his patronage reached new levels of refinement.

Tomb

The tomb is the central focus of the entire complex of the Taj Mahal. It is a large, white marble structure standing on a square plinth and consists of a symmetrical building with an iwan (an arch-shaped doorway) topped by a large dome and finial. Like most Mughal tombs, the basic elements are Persian in origin.

The actual tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan in the lower level.The base structure is a large multi-chambered cube with chamfered corners forming an unequal eight-sided structure that is approximately 55 metres (180 ft) on each of the four long sides. Each side of the iwan is framed with a huge pishtaq or vaulted archway with two similarly shaped arched balconies stacked on either side. This motif of stacked pishtaqs is replicated on the chamfered corner areas, making the design completely symmetrical on all sides of the building. Four minarets frame the tomb, one at each corner of the plinth facing the chamfered corners. The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual graves are at a lower level.

The most spectacular feature is the marble dome that surmounts the tomb. The dome is nearly 35 metres (115 ft) high which is close in measurement to the length of the base, and accentuated by the cylindrical "drum" it sits on which is approximately 7 metres (23 ft) high. Because of its shape, the dome is often called an onion dome or amrud (guava dome). The top is decorated with a lotus design which also serves to accentuate its height. The shape of the dome is emphasized by four smaller domed chattris (kiosks) placed at its corners, which replicate the onion shape of the main dome. Their columned bases open through the roof of the tomb and provide light to the interior. Tall decorative spires (guldastas) extend from edges of base walls, and provide visual emphasis to the height of the dome. The lotus motif is repeated on both the chattris and guldastas. The dome and chattris are topped by a gilded finial which mixes traditional Persian and Hindustani decorative elements.

The main finial was originally made of gold but was replaced by a copy made of gilded bronze in the early 19th century. This feature provides a clear example of integration of traditional Persian and Hindu decorative elements. The finial is topped by a moon, a typical Islamic motif whose horns point heavenward.

The minarets, which are each more than 40 metres (130 ft) tall, display the designer's penchant for symmetry. They were designed as working minarets—a traditional element of mosques, used by the muezzin to call the Islamic faithful to prayer. Each minaret is effectively divided into three equal parts by two working balconies that ring the tower. At the top of the tower is a final balcony surmounted by a chattri that mirrors the design of those on the tomb. The chattris all share the same decorative elements of a lotus design topped by a gilded finial. The minarets were constructed slightly outside of the plinth so that in the event of collapse, a typical occurrence with many tall constructions of the period, the material from the towers would tend to fall away from the tomb.

Exterior decorations

The exterior decorations of the Taj Mahal are among the finest in Mughal architecture. As the surface area changes, the decorations are refined proportionally. The decorative elements were created by applying paint, stucco, stone inlays or carvings. In line with the Islamic prohibition against the use of anthropomorphic forms, the decorative elements can be grouped into either calligraphy, abstract forms or vegetative motifs. Throughout the complex are passages from the Qur'an that comprise some of the decorative elements. Recent scholarship suggests that the passages were chosen by Amanat Khan.
Taj Mahal in India
The calligraphy on the Great Gate reads "O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you." The calligraphy was created in 1609 by a calligrapher named Abdul Haq. Shah Jahan conferred the title of "Amanat Khan" upon him as a reward for his "dazzling virtuosity". Near the lines from the Qur'an at the base of the interior dome is the inscription, "Written by the insignificant being, Amanat Khan Shirazi." Much of the calligraphy is composed of florid thuluth script made of jasper or black marble inlaid in white marble panels. Higher panels are written in slightly larger script to reduce the skewing effect when viewed from below. The calligraphy found on the marble cenotaphs in the tomb is particularly detailed and delicate.

Abstract forms are used throughout, especially in the plinth, minarets, gateway, mosque, jawab and, to a lesser extent, on the surfaces of the tomb. The domes and vaults of the sandstone buildings are worked with tracery of incised painting to create elaborate geometric forms. Herringbone inlays define the space between many of the adjoining elements. White inlays are used in sandstone buildings, and dark or black inlays on the white marbles. Mortared areas of the marble buildings have been stained or painted in a contrasting color which creates a complex array of geometric patterns. Floors and walkways use contrasting tiles or blocks in tessellation patterns.

On the lower walls of the tomb are white marble dados sculpted with realistic bas relief depictions of flowers and vines. The marble has been polished to emphasise the exquisite detailing of the carvings. The dado frames and archway spandrels have been decorated with pietra dura inlays of highly stylised, almost geometric vines, flowers and fruits. The inlay stones are of yellow marble, jasper and jade, polished and levelled to the surface of the walls.

Interior decoration

The Taj Mahal AgraThe interior chamber of the Taj Mahal reaches far beyond traditional decorative elements. The inlay work is not pietra dura, but a lapidary of precious and semiprecious gemstones. The inner chamber is an octagon with the design allowing for entry from each face, although only the door facing the garden to the south is used. The interior walls are about 25 metres (82 ft) high and are topped by a "false" interior dome decorated with a sun motif. Eight pishtaq arches define the space at ground level and, as with the exterior, each lower pishtaq is crowned by a second pishtaq about midway up the wall. The four central upper arches form balconies or viewing areas, and each balcony's exterior window has an intricate screen or jali cut from marble. In addition to the light from the balcony screens, light enters through roof openings covered by chattris at the corners. The octagonal marble screen or jali bordering the cenotaphs is made from eight marble panels carved through with intricate pierce work. The remaining surfaces are inlaid in delicate detail with semi-precious stones forming twining vines, fruits and flowers. Each chamber wall is highly decorated with dado bas-relief, intricate lapidary inlay and refined calligraphy panels which reflect, in miniature detail, the design elements seen throughout the exterior of the complex.

Muslim tradition forbids elaborate decoration of graves. Hence, the bodies of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan were put in a relatively plain crypt beneath the inner chamber with their faces turned right, towards Mecca. Mumtaz Mahal's cenotaph is placed at the precise centre of the inner chamber on a rectangular marble base of 1.5 by 2.5 metres (4 ft 11 in by 8 ft 2 in). Both the base and casket are elaborately inlaid with precious and semiprecious gems. Calligraphic inscriptions on the casket identify and praise Mumtaz. On the lid of the casket is a raised rectangular lozenge meant to suggest a writing tablet. Shah Jahan's cenotaph is beside Mumtaz's to the western side, and is the only visible asymmetric element in the entire complex. His cenotaph is bigger than his wife's, but reflects the same elements: a larger casket on a slightly taller base precisely decorated with lapidary and calligraphy that identifies him. On the lid of the casket is a traditional sculpture of a small pen box.

The pen box and writing tablet are traditional Mughal funerary icons decorating the caskets of men and women respectively. The Ninety Nine Names of God are calligraphic inscriptions on the sides of the actual tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. Other inscriptions inside the crypt include, "O Noble, O Magnificent, O Majestic, O Unique, O Eternal, O Glorious... ". The tomb of Shah Jahan bears a calligraphic inscription that reads; "He travelled from this world to the banquet-hall of Eternity on the night of the twenty-sixth of the month of Rajab, in the year 1076 Hijri."

Garden

The complex is set around a large 300-metre (980 ft) square charbagh or Mughal garden. The garden uses raised pathways that divide each of the four quarters of the garden into 16 sunken parterres or flowerbeds. Halfway between the tomb and gateway in the center of the garden is a raised marble water tank with a reflecting pool positioned on a north-south axis to reflect the image of the mausoleum. The raised marble water tank is called al Hawd al-Kawthar in reference to the "Tank of Abundance" promised to Muhammad.

Taj MahalElsewhere, the garden is laid out with avenues of trees and fountains. The charbagh garden, a design inspired by Persian gardens, was introduced to India by Babur, the first Mughal emperor. It symbolises the four flowing rivers of Jannah (Paradise) and reflects the Paradise garden derived from the Persian paridaeza, meaning 'walled garden'. In mystic Islamic texts of the Mughal period, Paradise is described as an ideal garden of abundance with four rivers flowing from a central spring or mountain, separating the garden into north, west, south and east.

Most Mughal charbaghs are rectangular with a tomb or pavilion in the center. The Taj Mahal garden is unusual in that the main element, the tomb, is located at the end of the garden. With the discovery of Mahtab Bagh or "Moonlight Garden" on the other side of the Yamuna, the interpretation of the Archaeological Survey of India is that the Yamuna river itself was incorporated into the garden's design and was meant to be seen as one of the rivers of Paradise. Similarities in layout and architectural features with the Shalimar Gardens suggests both gardens may have been designed by the same architect, Ali Mardan. Early accounts of the garden describe its profusion of vegetation, including abundant roses, daffodils, and fruit trees. As the Mughal Empire declined, the Taj Mahal and its gardens also declined. By the end of the 19th century, the British Empire controlled more than three-fifths of India, and assumed management of the Taj Mahal. They changed the landscaping to their liking which more closely resembled the formal lawns of London.

The Taj Mahal AgraOutlying buildings

The Taj Mahal complex is bordered on three sides by crenellated red sandstone walls; the side facing the river is open. Outside the walls are several additional mausoleums, including those of Shah Jahan's other wives, and a larger tomb for Mumtaz's favourite servant.

The main gateway (darwaza) is a monumental structure built primarily of marble, and reminiscent of the Mughal architecture of earlier emperors. Its archways mirror the shape of the tomb's archways, and its pishtaq arches incorporate the calligraphy that decorates the tomb. The vaulted ceilings and walls have elaborate geometric designs like those found in the other sandstone buildings in the complex.

The Taj Mahal Agra
At the far end of the complex are two grand red sandstone buildings that mirror each other, and face the sides of the tomb. The backs of the buildings parallel the western and eastern walls. The western building is a mosque and the other is the jawab (answer), thought to have been constructed for architectural balance although it may have been used as a guesthouse. Distinctions between the two buildings include the jawab's lack of a mihrab (a niche in a mosque's wall facing Mecca), and its floors of geometric design whereas the floor of the mosque is laid with outlines of 569 prayer rugs in black marble. The mosque's basic design of a long hall surmounted by three domes is similar to others built by Shah Jahan, particularly the Masjid-i Jahān-Numā, or Jama Masjid, Delhi. The Mughal mosques of this period divide the sanctuary hall into three areas comprising a main sanctuary and slightly smaller sanctuaries on either side. At the Taj Mahal, each sanctuary opens onto an expansive vaulting dome. The outlying buildings were completed in 1643.

Construction

The Taj Mahal is built on a parcel of land to the south of the walled city of Agra. Shah Jahan presented Maharajah Jai Singh with a large palace in the center of Agra in exchange for the land. An area of roughly three acres was excavated, filled with dirt to reduce seepage, and leveled at 50 metres (160 ft) above riverbank. In the tomb area, wells were dug and filled with stone and rubble to form the footings of the tomb. Instead of lashed bamboo, workmen constructed a colossal brick scaffold that mirrored the tomb. The scaffold was so enormous that foremen estimated it would take years to dismantle.

The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from all over India and Asia. It is believed over 1,000 elephants were used to transport building materials. The translucent white marble was brought from Makrana, Rajasthan, the jasper from Punjab, jade and crystal from China. The turquoise was from Tibet and the Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, while the sapphire came from Sri Lanka and the carnelian from Arabia. In all, twenty eight types of precious and semi-precious stones were inlaid into the white marble.

According to the legend, Shah Jahan decreed that anyone could keep the bricks taken from the scaffold, and thus it was dismantled by peasants overnight. A fifteen kilometer (9.3 mi) tamped-earth ramp was built to transport marble and materials to the construction site and teams of twenty or thirty oxen pulled the blocks on specially constructed wagons. An elaborate post-and-beam pulley system was used to raise the blocks into desired position. Water was drawn from the river by a series of purs, an animal-powered rope and bucket mechanism, into a large storage tank and raised to a large distribution tank. It was passed into three subsidiary tanks, from which it was piped to the complex.

The plinth and tomb took roughly 12 years to complete. The remaining parts of the complex took an additional 10 years and were completed in order of minarets, mosque and jawab, and gateway. Since the complex was built in stages, discrepancies exist in completion dates due to differing opinions on "completion". Construction of the mausoleum itself was essentially completed by 1643 while work continued on the outlying buildings. Estimates of the cost of construction vary due to difficulties in estimating costs across time. The total cost has been estimated to be about 32 million Indian rupees, which is around 52.8 billion Indian rupees ($827 million US) based on 2015 values.

Later days

Abdul Hamid Lahauri in his book Badshahnama refers to Taj Mahal as rauza-i munawwara, meaning the illumined or illustrious tomb. Soon after the Taj Mahal's completion, Shah Jahan was deposed by his son Aurangzeb and put under house arrest at nearby Agra Fort. Upon Shah Jahan's death, Aurangzeb buried him in the mausoleum next to his wife. In the 18th century, the Jat rulers of Bharatpur invaded Agra and attacked the Taj Mahal, the two chandeliers, one of agate and another of silver, which were hung over the main cenotaph, were taken away by them, along with the gold and silver screen. Kanbo, a Mughal historian, said the gold shield which covered the 15-foot high finial at the top of the main dome was also removed during the Jat despoliation.

By the late 19th century, parts of the buildings had fallen into disrepair. During the time of the Indian rebellion of 1857, the Taj Mahal was defaced by British soldiers and government officials, who chiselled out precious stones and lapis lazuli from its walls. At the end of the 19th century, British viceroy Lord Curzon ordered a sweeping restoration project, which was completed in 1908. He also commissioned the large lamp in the interior chamber, modelled after one in a Cairo mosque. During this time the garden was remodelled with British-style lawns that are still in place today.

Threats

In 1942, the government erected a scaffolding to disguise the building in anticipation of air attacks by the Japanese Air Force. During the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, scaffoldings were again erected to mislead bomber pilots.

More recent threats have come from environmental pollution on the banks of Yamuna River including acid rain due to the Mathura Oil Refinery, which was opposed by Supreme Court of India directives. The pollution has been turning the Taj Mahal yellow. To help control the pollution, the Indian government has set up the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ), a 10,400-square-kilometre (4,000 sq mi) area around the monument where strict emissions standards are in place.

Concerns for the tomb's structural integrity have recently been raised because of a decline in the groundwater level in the Yamuna river basin which is falling at a rate of around 5 feet a year. In 2010, cracks appeared in parts of the tomb, and the minarets which surround the monument were showing signs of tilting, as the wooden foundation of the tomb may be rotting due to lack of water. In 2011 it was reported that some predictions indicated that the tomb could collapse within 5 years.

Tourism

The Taj Mahal attracts a large number of tourists. UNESCO documented more than 2 million visitors in 2001, which increased to about 3 million in 2015. A two tier pricing system is in place, with a significantly lower entrance fee for Indian citizens and a more expensive one for foreigners. Most tourists visit in the cooler months of October, November and February. Polluting traffic is not allowed near the complex and tourists must either walk from parking lots or catch an electric bus. The Khawasspuras (northern courtyards) are currently being restored for use as a new visitor center.

The small town to the south of the Taj, known as Taj Ganji or Mumtazabad, was originally constructed with caravanserais, bazaars and markets to serve the needs of visitors and workmen. Lists of recommended travel destinations often feature the Taj Mahal, which also appears in several listings of seven wonders of the modern world, including the recently announced New Seven Wonders of the World, a recent poll with 100 million votes.

The grounds are open from 06:00 to 19:00 weekdays, except for Friday when the complex is open for prayers at the mosque between 12:00 and 14:00. The complex is open for night viewing on the day of the full moon and two days before and after, excluding Fridays and the month of Ramadan. For security reasons only five items—water in transparent bottles, small video cameras, still cameras, mobile phones and small ladies' purses—are allowed inside the Taj Mahal.

Myths

Ever since its construction, the building has been the source of an admiration transcending culture and geography, and so personal and emotional responses have consistently eclipsed scholastic appraisals of the monument. A longstanding myth holds that Shah Jahan planned a mausoleum to be built in black marble as a Black Taj Mahal across the Yamuna river. The idea originates from fanciful writings of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a European traveller who visited Agra in 1665. It was suggested that Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb before it could be built. Ruins of blackened marble across the river in Moonlight Garden, Mahtab Bagh, seemed to support this legend. However, excavations carried out in the 1990s found that they were discolored white stones that had turned black. A more credible theory for the origins of the black mausoleum was demonstrated in 2006 by archaeologists who reconstructed part of the pool in the Moonlight Garden. A dark reflection of the white mausoleum could clearly be seen, befitting Shah Jahan's obsession with symmetry and the positioning of the pool itself.

No evidence exists for claims that describe, often in horrific detail, the deaths, dismemberments and mutilations which Shah Jahan supposedly inflicted on various architects and craftsmen associated with the tomb. Some stories claim that those involved in construction signed contracts committing themselves to have no part in any similar design. Similar claims are made for many famous buildings. No evidence exists for claims that Lord William Bentinck, governor-general of India in the 1830s, supposedly planned to demolish the Taj Mahal and auction off the marble. Bentinck's biographer John Rosselli says that the story arose from Bentinck's fund-raising sale of discarded marble from Agra Fort.

Another myth suggests that beating the silhouette of the finial will cause water to come forth. To this day, officials find broken bangles surrounding the silhouette.

In 2000, India's Supreme Court dismissed P. N. Oak's petition to declare that a Hindu king built the Taj Mahal. In 2005 a similar petition was dismissed by the Allahabad High Court. This case was brought by Amar Nath Mishra, a social worker and preacher who says that the Taj Mahal was built by the Hindu King Parmar Dev in 1196.

Agra Fort Entrance Gate
The Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It is about 2.5 km northwest of its more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. The fort can be more accurately described as a walled city.

History

The present-day structure was built by the Mughals, though a fort had stood there since at least the 11th century. Agra Fort was originally a brick fort known as Badalgarh, held by Raja Badal Singh Hindu Sikarwar Rajput king (c. 1475). It was mentioned for the first time in 1080 AD when a Ghaznavide force captured it. Sikandar Lodi (1488–1517) was the first Sultan of Delhi who shifted to Agra and lived in the fort. He governed the country from here and Agra assumed the importance of the second capital. He died in the fort in 1517 and his son, Ibrahim Lodi, held it for nine years until he was defeated and killed at Panipat in 1526. Several palaces, wells and a mosque were built by him in the fort during his period.

Agra Fort (Hall of Public Audience)
After the First Battle of Panipat in 1526, the victorious Babur stayed in the fort, in the palace of Ibrahim Lodi. He later built a baoli (step well) in it. The emperor Humayun was crowned in the fort in 1530. Humayun was defeated at Bilgram in 1540 by Sher Shah. The fort remained with Suris till 1555, when Humanyun recaptured it. The Hindu king Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, also called 'Hemu', defeated Humanyun's army, led by Iskandar Khan Uzbek, and won Agra. Hemu then went on to capture Delhi from the Mughals. The Mughals under Akbar defeated King Hemu finally at the Second Battle of Panipat in 1556.

Realizing the importance of its central situation, Akbar made it his capital and arrived in Agra in 1558. His historian, Abdul Fazal, recorded that this was a brick fort known as 'Badalgarh' . It was in a ruined condition and Akbar had it rebuilt with red sandstone from Barauli area in Rajasthan. Architects laid the foundation and it was built with bricks in the inner core with sandstone on external surfaces. Some 4,000 builders worked on it daily for eight years, completing it in 1573.

It was only during the reign of Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan, that the site took on its current state. Legend has it that Shah Jahan built the beautiful Taj Mahal for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Unlike his grandfather, Shah Jahan tended to have buildings made from white marble. He destroyed some of the earlier buildings inside the fort to make his own.

Agra Fort Uttar Pradesh, Agra
At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was deposed and restrained by his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort. It is rumoured that Shah Jahan died in Muasamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony with a view of the Taj Mahal.

The fort was invaded and captured by the Maratha Empire in the early 18th century. Thereafter, it changed hands between the Marathas and their foes many times. After their catastrophic defeat at Third Battle of Panipat by Ahmad Shah Abdali in 1761, Marathas remained out of the region for the next decade. Finally Mahadji Shinde took the fort in 1785. It was lost by the Marathas to the British during the Second Anglo-Maratha War, in 1803.

The fort was the site of a battle during the Indian rebellion of 1857, which caused the end of the British East India Company's rule in India, and led to a century of direct rule of India by Britain.

agra fort as seen from train crossing over railway nearby itLayout

The 380,000 m2 (94-acre) fort has a semicircular plan, its chord lies parallel to the river and its walls are seventy feet high. Double ramparts have massive circular bastions at intervals, with battlements, embrasures, machicolations and string courses. Four gates were provided on its four sides, one Khizri gate opening on to the river.

Two of the fort's gates are notable: the "Delhi Gate" and the "Lahore Gate." The Lahore Gate is also popularly also known as the "Amar Singh Gate," for Amar Singh Rathore.

The monumental Delhi Gate, which faces the city on the western side of the fort, is considered the grandest of the four gates and a masterpiece of Akbar's time. It was built circa 1568 both to enhance security and as the king's formal gate, and includes features related to both. It is embellished with inlay work in white marble. A wooden drawbridge was used to cross the moat and reach the gate from the mainland; inside, an inner gateway called Hathi Pol ("Elephant Gate") – guarded by two life-sized stone elephants with their riders – added another layer of security. The drawbridge, slight ascent, and 90-degree turn between the outer and inner gates make the entrance impregnable. During a siege, attackers would employ elephants to crush a fort's gates. Without a level, straight run-up to gather speed, however, something prevented by this layout, elephants are ineffective.

Agra Fort (Hall of Public Audience)
Because the Indian military (the Parachute Brigade in particular) is still using the northern portion of the Agra Fort, the Delhi Gate cannot be used by the public. Tourists enter via the Amar Singh Gate.

The site is very important in terms of architectural history. Abul Fazal recorded that five hundred buildings in the beautiful designs of Bengal and Gujarat were built in the fort. Some of them were demolished by Shahjahan to make way for his white marble palaces. Most of the others were destroyed by the British between 1803 and 1862 for raising barracks. Hardly thirty Mughal buildings have survived on the south-eastern side, facing the river. Of these, the Delhi Gate and Akbar Gate and one palace – "Bengali Mahal" – are representative Akbari buildings.

Akbar Darwazza (Akbar Gate) was renamed Amar Singh Gate by the British. The gate is similar in design to the Delhi Gate. Both are built of red sandstone.

The Bengali Mahal is built of red sandstone and is now split into Akbari Mahal and Jahangiri mahal.

Popular culture


    Agra Fort Inner View
  • The Agra Fort won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004. India Post issued a stamp to commemorate this event
  • The Agra Fort plays a key role in the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Sign of the Four, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • The Agra Fort was featured in the music video for Habibi Da, a hit song of Egyptian pop star Hisham Abbas.
  • Shivaji came to Agra in 1666 as per the "Purandar Treaty" entered into with Mirza Raje Jaisingh to meet Aurangzeb in the Diwan-i-Khas. In the audience, he was deliberately placed behind men of lower rank. Insulted, he stormed out of the imperial audience and was confined to Jai Sing's quarters on 12 May 1666.
  • In the second expansion pack for the videogame Age of Empires 3, the Asian Dynasties, Agra fort is one of five wonders for the Indian civilisation.

Shot of Tajmahal from Mehtab Bagh in foreground agraMehtab Bagh (Moonlight Garden) is a charbagh complex in Agra, North India. It lies north of the Taj Mahal complex and the Agra Fort on the opposite side of the Yamuna River, in the flood plains. The garden complex, square in shape, measures about 300 by 300 metres (980 ft × 980 ft) and is perfectly aligned with the Taj Mahal on the opposite bank. During the rainy season, the ground becomes partially flooded.

History

The Mehtab Bagh garden was the last of eleven Mughal-built gardens along the Yamuna opposite the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort; the first being Ram Bagh. It is mentioned that this garden was built by Emperor Babur (d. 1530). It is also noted that Emperor Shah Jahan had identified a site from the crescent-shaped, grass-covered floodplain across the Yamuna River as an ideal location for viewing the Taj Mahal. It was then created as "a moonlit pleasure garden called Mehtab Bagh." White plaster walkways, airy pavilions, pools and fountains were also created as part of the garden, with fruit trees and narcissus. The garden was designed as an integral part of the Taj Mahal complex in the riverfront terrace pattern. Its width was identical to that of the rest of the Taj Mahal. Legends attributed to the travelogue of the 17th century French traveler Jean Baptiste Tavernier mention Shah Jahan's wish to build a black marble mausoleum for himself, as a twin to the Taj Mahal; however, this could not be achieved as he was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb. This myth had been further fueled in 1871 by a British archaeologist, A.C.L. Carlleyle, who, while discovering the remnants of an old pond at the site had mistaken it for the foundation of the fabled structure. Thus, Carlleyle became the first researcher to notice structural remains at the site, albeit blackened by moss and lichen. Mehtab Bagh was later owned by Raja Man Singh Kacchawa of Amber, who also owned the land around the Taj Mahal

Lawn of Mehtab Bagh
Frequent floods and villagers extracting building materials nearly ruined the garden. Remaining structures within the garden were in a ruinous state. By the 1990s, the garden's existence was almost forgotten and it had degraded to little more than an enormous mound of sand, covered with wild vegetation and alluvial silt.

Site plan

Inscriptions on the site of Mehtab Bagh mention that it adjoins other gardens to the west; these are called "Chahar Bagh Padshahi" and "Second Chahar Bagh Padshahi". A compound wall surrounded the garden; it was made of brick, lime plaster, and red sandstone cladding. Measuring about 289 metres (948 ft) in length, the river wall is partially intact. Built on platforms, there were domed towers of red sandstone in an octagonal shape, which may have stood at the corners. A 2–2.5 metres (6 ft 7 in–8 ft 2 in) wide pathway made of brick edged the western boundary of the grounds, covering the remains of the boundary wall to the west. Near the entrance is a small Dalit shrine on the riverside. Of the four sandstone towers, which marked the corners of the garden, only the one on the southeast remains. A large octagonal pond on the southern periphery reflects the image of the Mausoleum. There is a small central tank on the eastern side. Water channels enrich the landscape and there are baradaris on the east and west. There is a gate at the northern wall. The foundations of two structures remain immediately north and south of the large pond, which were probably garden pavilions. From the northern structure a stepped waterfall would have fed the pool. The garden to the north has the typical square, cross-axial plan with a square pool in its centre. To the west, an aqueduct fed the garden. Other structures which are not in keeping with the original landscape plan include nurseries owned by private individuals, a temple in place of a gazebo, an odd statue of B. R. Ambedkar holding the Constitution of India in the courtyard, and relics of a water supply network to the park.

Restoration

Map of Mehtab Bagh
Restoration of the Mehtab Bagh began after the ASI survey, setting new standards for Mughal garden research. This included a surface survey, historical documentation, paleobotanical assessment, archaeological excavation techniques, and requirements coordination with the Ministries of Culture, Tourism, and Planning. Restoration began in the 1990s, aided by the Americans, during which barbed-wire fencing was added to the Mehtab Bagh site. The garden's original ambiance was restored as ASI insisted on having plants that the Mughals had used in their gardens. Though the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) had suggested planting of 25 pollution-mitigating plant species every 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) in the proposed renovation of the garden, this was opposed by the ASI. The Supreme Court intervened in the matter in favour of ASI who wanted the garden to only have plants that the Mughals used in their gardens.


A common list of plants was suggested. ASI landscape artists meticulously planned the replanting of trees, plants and herbage to match the original Mughal gardens, replicating the riverside gardens brought to India from Central Asia in Shalimar Bagh in Kashmir. Some 81 plants adopted in Mughal horticulture were planted, including guava, maulshri, kaner, hibiscus, citrus fruit plants, neem, bauhinia, ashoka and jamun. The herbage was planted in such a way that tall trees follow the short ones, then shrubs, and lastly flowering plants. Some of these plants produce bright-coloured flowers that shine in the moonlight. The park has been reconstructed to its original grandeur and has now become a very good location to view the Taj Mahal.

Archaeology

Archaeological excavations in the Mehtab Bagh site have been described as "setting new archaeological standards for Mughal garden research", using paleobotanical and excavations techniques. Excavations to the extent of 90,000 cubic metres of earth, were carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), in 1994. The excavations unearthed a large octagonal tank with 25 fountains, and a garden, divided into four compartments. Mumtaz Mahal's tomb was found to be situated halfway between the Taj Mahal complex's main entrance and the ends of the Mehtab Bagh site. This is corroborated by a letter from Aurangzeb addressed to Shah Jahan in which he referred to the condition of the garden after the flood event in 1652 AD.

Tomb of Mariam-uz-Zamani Agra
The Tomb of Mariam-uz-Zamani is the mausoleum of Mariam-uz-Zamani, the Hindu consort of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. The tomb was built by Jahangir, in memory of his mother Mariam-uz-Zamani. The tomb is located in Sikandra, a suburb of Agra.

Heer Kunwari was born a Rajput princess and was also the eldest daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amer. She was married to Emperor Akbar in 1562 CE. She was honoured with the title Mariam-uz-Zamani ("Mary of the Age") after she gave birth to Jahangir. She died in Agra in 1623 and her son Jahangir built a tomb for her in between 1623 and 1627 CE.The tomb is only a kilometer away from the Tomb of Akbar the Great, which was built as per her wish, the only nearest of all the tombs of his other wives.

Architecture

The structure was originally an open baradari (pleasure pavilion) under Sikander Lodi, who built it in 1495 AD. It was adopted by the Mughals in 1623 AD and was converted into a tomb by making a crypt below the central compartment and remodelling it substantially.

The mausoleum contains three tombstones: one in the underground mortuary chamber, which is the grave itself; the cenotaph above it; and another cenotaph on the terrace.

The ground floor consists of some forty chambers built by Sikander Lodi, which bears faint traces of paintings on plastered walls. The centre of the ground floor houses the cenotaph of Mariam.

This square tomb stands in the centre of the Mughal garden. It is built on a raised platform with stairs on its northern and southern sides. The two corridors running from east to west and from north to south divide the structure into nine sections that are further subdivided into smaller compartments. The largest one is at the centre, four smaller square ones at the corners and four oblong ones in their middle. Massive piers have been used to support the broad arches and vaulted ceilings. The tomb is built of brick and mortar, and finished with stucco.

The facades (exterior) of the building were reconstructed with red sandstone panels and a chhajja with the addition of duchhati (mezzanine floors) at the corners by the Mughals. On each facade there is a rectangular structure which projects forward and has a pointy arch in it. It is flanked on either sides by wings, which consists of three arches and a set of double arches, one over the other, thus accommodating a duchhatti at each corner of the building. The wings are protected by chhajjas. The duchhatti are accessible by stairways.

The tomb also contains the work of the Mughals, who remodelled them by adding chhatris and chhaparkhats. The tomb has four massive octagonal chhatris on its four corners, and four oblong chhaparkhats in the centre of the four sides. Each chhatri is made out of red sandstone with a white dome and stands on a square platform. The domes are crowned with an inverted lotus or 'padma kosha'. Brackets have been used to support the internal lintels and external chhajja, five on each pillar, making a total of 40 brackets in one chhatri. Each chhaparkhat is rectangular and has eight pillars with a similar cluster of brackets and a white roof. These chhatris and chhaparkhats are the most important ornament of the whole composition. The rectangular chhaparkhats with eight pillars and a cluster of brackets resemble the corner cupolas.The tomb doesn't have a dome. The mausoleum is of architectural importance in the category of Mughal tombs without a dome.

Another important aspect of the tomb is that it is identical both in the front and the rear. Unlike other Mughal era structures, the back entrance is not a dummy but an actual entrance.

Ornamentation

The red sandstone facade and panels with a variety of decorative designs, such as floral patterns, tell a lot about the former splendor of this tomb. There are chevron patterns in the nook shafts, wine-vases within sunk niches and geometrical floral designs gracing the piers between the arches. The chhatris have beautiful carved columns with hexagonal bases. The stone brackets occupy the spaces just below the chajja, while beautifully carved friezes are above it. And white marble is inlaid underneath the dome. The friezes of the chhaparkhats were originally covered with glazed tiles and have pyramidal roof. Traces of floral paintings can still be seen in the corners that tells about the former beauty of the tomb.

Chini ka Rauza Agra
Chini ka Rauza is a funerary monument, rauza in Agra, India, containing the tomb of Allama Afzal Khan Mullah, a scholar and poet who was the Prime Minister of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The tomb was built in 1635. Chini ka Rauza is situated just 1 kilometer north of Itmad-Ud-Daulah Tomb, on the eastern bank of Yamuna river in Agra.

The facade of the monument is also known for one of finest examples of glazed tile work, called kashi or chini in Mughal era buildings.

Also known as China Tomb, this is the mausoleum of Afzal Khan who was a Persian poet during the reign of Jahangir. Later he became the wazir during Shah Jahan's reign. Khan died in Lahore in 1639 and was buried here at Agra. The tomb is built facing the city of Mecca.

The structure's architectural style is "unusual". This is because of the exotic architectural style in which it is built. It is "unusually plain" possessing a sultanate style unproportional dome.

Due to the inclement weather, the various types of enamel colors have worn away from the tiles. In the facades, the builders used earthern pots to reduce the weight of the concrete filling which was followed in Rome and Egypt.

The Tomb of Akbar the Great Agra
The Tomb of Akbar the Great is an important Mughal architectural masterpiece, built 1605–1613, set in 48 Ha (119 acres) of grounds in Sikandra, a suburb of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.

The third Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great (1555–1605), himself commenced its construction in around 1600, according to Tartary tradition to commence the construction of one's tomb during one's lifetime. Akbar himself planned his own tomb and selected a suitable site for it. After his death, Akbar's son Jahangir completed the construction in 1605-1613. Akbar was one of the greatest emperors in the history of India. However, during the reign of Aurangzeb Alamgir, Rebellious Jats under Raja Ram Jat, ransacked the intricate tomb, plundered and looted all the beautiful gold, jewels, silver and carpets, whilst destroying other things. There are still signs of burning on the gates. Akbar's bones were also burnt and the Tomb suffered a lot, until extensive repair was carried out by the British under Lord Curzon. The neighboring Taj Mahal was also looted, and two of Agra's gates were taken away.

It is located at Sikandra, in the suburbs of Agra, on the Mathura road (NH2), 8 km west-northwest of the city center. About 1 km away from the tomb, lies Mariam's Tomb, the tomb of Mariam-uz-Zamani, wife of the Mughal Emperor Akbar and the mother of Jahangir.

The Tomb of Akbar the Great AgraThe south gate is the largest, with four white marble chhatri-topped minarets which are similar to (and pre-date) those of the Taj Mahal, and is the normal point of entry to the tomb. The tomb itself is surrounded by a walled enclosure 105 m square. The tomb building is a four-tiered pyramid, surmounted by a marble pavilion containing the false tomb. The true tomb, as in other mausoleums, is in the basement.

The buildings are constructed mainly from a deep red sandstone, enriched with features in white marble. Decorated inlaid panels of these materials and a black slate adorn the tomb and the main gatehouse. Panel designs are geometric, floral and calligraphic, and prefigure the more complex and subtle designs later incorporated in Itmad-ud-Daulah's Tomb.

Moti Masjid Agra
The Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) in Agra was built by Shah Jahan. During the rule of Shah Jahan the Mughal emperor, numerous architectural wonders were built. Most famous of them being the Taj Mahal. Moti Masjid earned the epithet Pearl Mosque for it shined like a pearl. It is held that this mosque was constructed by Shah Jahan for his members of royal court.

It stands on ground that slopes from east to west to the north of Diwan-i-Am complex in Agra Fort. The courtyard of the Moti Masjid has side arcades and arched recessions and the main sanctuary facade beyond. The sanctuary is roofed with three bulbous domes built of light white marble and stand on the red sandstone walls. There are a series of Hindu-style domed kiosks along the parapet. There are seven bays that are divided into aisles which are supported by piers and lobed arches. The Moti Masjid boasts of extensive white marble facing, a typical stylistic feature of architecture during the reign of Shah Jahan.

This masjid was constructed at a cost of 1 lakh and 60 thousand rupees[citation needed] and took four years to build. According to Sant Nihal Singh, "It struggles of the soul to soar above worldly entanglements."

Panch Mahal Agra
Panch Mahal is a five-story palace in Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, India.

The Panch Mahal,also known as "Badgir" meaning wind catcher tower, was commissioned by sikarwar rajputs. This structure stands close to the Zenana quarters (Harem) which supports the supposition that it used for entertainment and relaxation. This is one of the most important building in Fatehpur Sikri . This is an extraordinary structure employing the design elements of a Buddhist Temple; entirely columnar, consisting of four stories of decreasing size arranged asymmetrically upon the ground floor, which contains 84 columns. These columns, that originally had jaali (screens) between them, support the whole structure. Once these screens provided purdah (cover) to queens and princess on the top terraces enjoying the cool breezes and watching splendid views of Sikri fortifications and the town nestling at the foot of the ridge.

The pavilion gives a majestic view of the fort that lies on its left. The pool in front of the Panch Mahal is called the Anoop Talao. It would have been filled with water, save for the bridge, and would have been the setting for musical concerts and other entertainment. The ground floor has 84 columns, the first story has 56 columns and the second and third stories have 20 and 12 columns respectively. The topmost story has 4 columns supporting a chhattri. There are 176 columns in all and each is elegantly carved with no two alike.

The Jama Masjid Agra
The Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) in Fatehpur Sikri is a mosque in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India, completed in 1571-5 by Sheikh Salim Chishti. The Imam of the Mosque has been the late Hazrat Shah Muhammad Mazhar Ullah and now his son Maulvi Mukarram Ahmad leads the prayer.Being the mosque constructed by the Mughal Emperor,they are referred to as 'Shahi Imams' (Royal Imams)

The rectangular mosque comprises a central nave with a single dome, two colonnaded halls on either side, with two square chambers crowned with domes. Carved mihrabs adorn the main chamber and the two smaller rooms.

The Jama Masjid AgraThe mosque marks the phase of transition in Islamic art, as indigenous architectural elements were blended with Persian elements. The pillared dalan of the facade, the liwan with three arched openings framed by panels and crowned by five chhatris and the central mihrab adorned with an inlaid mosaic of stones that are bordered by glazed tiles, and it has golden inscriptions on a royal blue background, a tribute to this fusion. The interiors of the iwan are adorned with watercolour paintings depicting stylized floral designs. The dado panels, spandrels of arch and soffits are painted profusely. Unlike other monuments, where domes are supported on squinches, here corbelled pendentives support the dome.

The Buland Darwaza and the Tomb of Salim Chishti are also a part of the mosque complex.

Ram Bagh AgraThe Ram Bagh (Urdu: اراما باغ‎ ) is the oldest Mughal Garden in India, originally built by the Mughal Emperor Babur in 1528, located about five kilometers northeast of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Babur was temporarily buried there before being interred in Kabul.

The garden is a Persian garden, where pathways and canals divide the garden to represent the Islamic ideal of paradise, an abundant garden through which rivers flow. The Aram Bagh provides an example of a variant of the charbagh in which water cascades down three terraces in a sequence of cascades. Two viewing pavilions face the Jumna river and incorporates a subterranean 'tahkhana' which was used during the hot summers to provide relief for visitors. The garden has numerous water courses and fountains.
Ram Bagh Agra

The name is a corruption of the Persian Aaram Bagh meaning 'Garden of Rest'. It is also variously known as Bagh-i Nur Afshan 'Light-Scattering Garden', Aalsi Bagh or 'Lazy Garden': according to legend, Emperor Akbar proposed to his third wife, who was a gardener there, by lying idle for 6 days until she agreed to marry him.

Jahangir waited in the garden in early March 1621 for the most astrologically auspicious hour for him to enter Agra after he took the Fort of Kangra. The preserved, surviving architecture dates to his reign and demonstrates the skill of his wife Nur Jahan as a garden designer.

Mankameshwar Mandir Agra
Mankameshwar Mandir (Temple) in Agra is one of the ancient temples devoted to Lord Shiva. The temple is situated at Rawatpara, near Agra Fort Railway Station. It is said that the shiv linga is covered by silver metal and was founded by Lord Shiva himself during Dwapara era, when Krishna was born in Mathura. Shiva wished to get a darshan of Lord Krishna in child form.While he was coming from mount kailash he rested here. Yamuna used to flow here, Shiva meditated and night-stayed at the Mankameshwar Temple.He said "If I would be able to make Krishna play on my lap I will put a linga here". Next day after seeing Shiva's swaroop, Ma Yashoda asked Shiva not to come near the child as Krishna might get afraid of him. Seeing this Krishna did a leela(drama),he started crying and pointing towards Shiva who was sitting under a banyan tree in samadhi position.seeing this Ma Yashoda called Lord Shiva and asked him to give his blessings to her child(Krishna). Coming back from Gokul, Shiva came back and laid his linga(swaroop) here. Thus, he said "My wishes were fulfilled here;Whosoever in coming future comes here with his mankamna(wishes) this lingaswaroop will fulfill his or her mankamna(wishes)". From then onwards this lingaswaroop is known asShri Mankameshwarnath .

The temple has one sanctum sanctorum where the vigraha of Lord Shiva sits. It is surrounded by the typical Shiva family idols. One has to descend down a score of stairs to reach the sanctum sanctorum. One can reach fully close to the main vigraha provided one doesn't wear leather items and English style pants, pyjamas, and salwaar suits.

On 24 July 2004, Lord Krishna's swaroop(ShriNath ji) was established under the guidelines of Shri Nanaji Bhai Mukhiya ji of Mathura. Madhurashtkam and aarti of Shrinath ji is a special scene to see.

Behind the sanctum sanctorum are several small temples within the main temple complex. These are devoted to various deities like Goddess Ganga, Saraswati, Gayatri, Hanuman, Kaila devi, Narsimha, Krishna,Rama to name a few.

Math is looked after by Shri Mahant Yogesh Puriji, who succeeded his father late Shri Mahant Udhav Puriji. 11 Akhand jyotis are being lit every day (24 hrs.) with desi ghee. Devotees after fulfilling their wishes comes here to light a deepak of 1.25 Rs. to 1.25 lakh Rs. every day.

Math also runs a Hospital, Vidyalaya, Gowshaala, village, digner on shamshabad road agra, 17km far from the temple. Temple of Shri Girraj Maharaj(Govardhan Nath) is getting constructed over there. At Rawatpada a pre-nursery school, homeopathic clinic, computer education centre, a dharmshaala(guesthouse) is also run by the Math Administrator, Shri Harihar Puriji.

There are special paan which you get near Mankameshwar. These are folded in such a manner so that their shape becomes that of a pyramid. They are then coated with "chandi ka verk" (Silver Foil) and garnished with coconut powder.

Musamman Burj AgraMusamman Burj also known as the Saman Burj or the Shah-burj, is an octagonal tower standing close to the Shah Jahan's private hall Diwan-e-Khas in Agra Fort.

History

Musamman Burj was built by Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is said that at first a small marble palace built by Akbar was situated at this site, which was later demolished by Jehangir to erect new buildings. Shah Jahan in his turn chose this site to erect the multi-storied marble tower inlaid with precious stones for Mumtaz Mahal. It was built between 1631–40 and offers exotic views of the famous Taj Mahal.

Architecture

The Musamman Burj is made of delicate marble lattices with ornamental niches so that the ladies of the court could gaze out unseen. The decoration of the walls is pietra dura. The chamber has a marble dome on top and is surrounded by a verandah with a beautiful carved fountain in the center.

The tower looks out over the River Yamuna and is traditionally considered to have one of the most poignant views of the Taj Mahal. It is here that Shah Jahan along with his favorite daughter Jahanara Begum had spent his last few years as a captive of his son Aurangzeb. He lay here on his death bed while gazing at the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Tomb of I'timād-ud-DaulahTomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah (Urdu: اعتماد الدولہ کا مقبرہ‎, I'timād-ud-Daulah kā Maqbara) is a Mughal mausoleum in the city of Agra in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Often described as a "jewel box", sometimes called the "Baby Tāj", the tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah is often regarded as a draft of the Tāj Mahal.


Along with the main building, the structure consists of numerous outbuildings and gardens. The tomb, built between 1622 and 1628 represents a transition between the first phase of monumental Mughal architecture – primarily built from red sandstone with marble decorations, as in Humayun's Tomb in Delhi and Akbar's tomb in Sikandra – to its second phase, based on white marble and pietra dura inlay, most elegantly realized in the Tāj Mahal.

The mausoleum was commissioned by Nūr Jahān, the wife of Jahangir, for her father Mirzā Ghiyās Beg, originally a Persian Amir in exile, who had been given the title of I'timād-ud-Daulah (pillar of the state). Mirzā Ghiyās Beg was also the grandfather of Mumtāz Mahāl (originally named Arjūmand Bāno, daughter of Asaf Khān), the wife of the emperor Shāh Jahān, responsible for the construction of the Tāj Mahal. Nur Jehan was also responsible for the construction of the Tomb of Jehangir at Lahore.
Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah Agra
Tomb

Located on the right bank of the Yamuna River, the mausoleum is set in a large cruciform garden criss-crossed by water courses and walkways. The mausoleum itself covers about twenty-three meters square, and is built on a base about fifty meters square and about one meter high. On each corner are hexagonal towers, about thirteen meters tall.

The walls are made up from white marble from Rajasthan encrusted with semi-precious stone decorations – cornelian, jasper, lapis lazuli, onyx, and topaz formed into images of cypress trees and wine bottles, or more elaborate decorations like cut fruit or vases containing bouquets. Light penetrates to the interior through delicate jālī screens of intricately carved white marble. The interior decoration is considered by many to have inspired that of the Taj Mahal, which was built by her stepson, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

Many of Nūr Jahān's relatives are interred in the mausoleum. The only asymmetrical element of the entire complex is that the cenotaphs of her father and mother have been set side-by-side, a formation replicated in the Tāj Mahal.

Incredible Bihar

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