Agra – The City Of Awe Inspiring Monuments
There is no doubt that life today has become very busy. With hectic schedules and strenuous daily life, it has become a need to take short breaks often. Going somewhere away from our place of residence for a short while provides the perfect short break. For North Delhi people, especially for ones who are living in or near Delhi, there are a few options that come handy to select for fabulous weekends. Agra comes as a good choice for a weekend break for Delhiites. Just 3 hours away from Delhi, it offers exciting shopping avenues, good food options (remember the ever famous petha?), world famed tourist attractions and perfect hospitality. Let’s take a small dive into Agra’s history.
Agra was chosen by the Mughal emperors as their capital during the early years. Babur, the founder of Mughal dynasty laid out the first Persian garden alongside river Yamuna where his grandson, Akbar, further raised the magnificent Red Fort (also known as Agra Fort). Adding to the family heritage, Jahangir, son of Akbar, built red- stone palaces, courts and beautiful wide gardens. Shah Jahan then embellished it with marble mosques, palaces and domes of white marble adorned with gems. Agra is globally renowned as the city of Taj Mahal and carries great importance in history. It’s a matter of pleasure and pride to tour this historic city that represents India to the world.
Taj Mahal, the spectacular seventh wonder of the world and a UNESCO world heritage site was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 17th century as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal took almost 22 years and about 22,000 workers to complete! Taj, the epitome of love, stands on the banks of the river Yamuna and attracts innumerable tourists from all over the world. Viewing Taj just once is just not sufficient. It amazes all its visitors from all of its various views at different points of time. Take out a few minutes to sit on the bench outside along the beautiful gardens and fountains and admire the wholesome beauty. Being an Indian, no one should miss viewing this World’s Wonder. It brings a certain pride that it belongs to us. It has helped India win respect and fame from all over the world.
You must have certainly seen pictures of Taj, but it’s an unmatched experience to witness its spell bound beauty with your own eyes. Every visitor is overwhelmed by its captivating feel and wants to visit it again. Thousands of visitors come here every day but it’s built in such a huge area that the place still keeps calm and relaxed. It shines with the sunshine outside so much so that you have to sneak through your own eyes to look at it, and when you enter inside, you find it surprisingly chilly. Take a closer look at the walls and set your eyes on the fine marble carvings which were once ornamented with many precious stones of many colors. Unfortunately, precious stones are now plucked out. The cenotaphs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are surrounded by immaculately carved marble walls. Tint of pink in the morning, perfect white in the evening and shines like silver under the moon light, Taj is a magical marble building which changes its colors with changing hours.
Next best attraction of Agra is the magnificent Agra Fort. It was built by Akbar during his reign and continued to the time of Shah Jahan. Jehangir had beautified the fort with palaces and gardens. This huge red stone monument stands alongside river Yamuna and stretches for around 2.5kms, giving a spectacular view of Taj Mahal. The fort has around 16 palaces, several gardens and huge open areas. Once you enter, you realize it can be a city in itself. There is only one gate open for the public and some areas are closed for public viewing too but all the places of tourist interest are open. When you step into the main entrance, you breathe in a pleasant fragrance. It’s an unsolved mystery as to why that fragrance is still there but its good anyways, as it helps you take into that era and you feel magnetized. It is perhaps because of the special stone of the walls or maybe the secret has gone with the workers. Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khas were built by Shah Jahan for receiving audiences. Don’t miss the Musamman Burj, an octagonal tower with a beautiful marble balcony. This is the place where Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb. It gives a majestic view of Taj and it is believed that Shah Jahan took his last breath here. Imagine how full of love he was for Mumtaz that he died remembering his beloved and seeing her resting place, perhaps longing to go to her fast.
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Quite near to the Agra Fort is Itimad-Ud-Daulah. Earlier in the day you saw the World’s Wonder Taj. And now, you should give a look at the Baby Taj! Itimad-Ud-Daulah, known as Baby Taj was the first ever Mughal structure built in white marble and inlay stone work. Empress Nur Jahan had commissioned this construction for her father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg, the then Chief Minister of Emperor Jehangir. With several water courses and spectacular walkways, the tomb is situated on the banks of Yamuna River. Stone inlay work specially the pillars is just amazing! If the weather is cool, you may as well get lucky to see some peacocks roaming around! It is not generally included in the itineraries but i would strongly recommend it to all Agra tourists.
Cover these major Agra attractions with convenience. There is no need to rush. Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Itimad-ud-Daulah will take most of your day. In the late evening, you can (well, you should!) go for some shopping from local areas and get some packs of different types of pethas and dalmoth. If you’ve got another day at Agra, I’ll tell you about some more places to see in my next blog.
Till then, enjoy some dalmoth and chocolate petha, my favourite! 😀