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Agra is located on the banks of Yamuna River and was the capital of the Mughal Empire from 16th to the 17th century till the capital was shifted to Delhi. This place is rich with culture and fantastic palaces, forts and mausoleums.

Agra became the Capital of the Mughal Empire after King Sikander Lodhi made it his capital and the subsequent Emperors added to the splendor of Agra.
The initial input was put in by Mughal Emperor Babur who was a man of vision and he wanted to create lifestyle which would put Agra on the world map, for this he brought together artists, craftsmen and statesmen. who started this quest of creating this amazing and visually stunning masterpiece known as Agra.

This city was lavished upon by the Emperors who came next in line like Emperor Akbar, Emperor Jhangir, Emperor Shah Jahan who built luxurious palaces, gardens, forts and mausoleums by attracting the finest artists from Asia, Persia and different parts of India as well. Fatehpur Sikri was built by Emperor Akbar as his capital in 1585 to honor Salim Chisti a Sufi Saint and was the capital of the Mughal Dynasty for 14 years and was later abandoned for lack of water.

Fatehpur Sikri, Agra Fort and the jewel in the crown Taj Mahal are now World Heritage Sites sponsored by UNESCO.
This city retains its old world charm and has a stunning range of buildings and monuments which take you back in time and leaves a impression on each and everybody who comes here.

The places to visit here are:


Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal is the eternal symbol of love, which was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the year 1631 to1648 for his wife Mumtaz Mahal as a mausoleum. This labor of love was created by artists from across the world; designers and architects were called from central Asia as well as from Europe and more then 20,000 people were employed during the construction, the construction material was brought from across India and Central Asia as well. It was a gigantic task just to gather and get the material to Agra.

The prime Architect of this project was Ustad Isa who was a famed architect of that time able assistance was provided by craftsmen from Multan, Lahore and Delhi as well as artists from Shiraz and Baghdad.

Shah Jahan was born on January 15th 1592 and at birth he was named Khurram (joyous) by Mughal Emperor Akbar, who was Khurram, s grand father. Shah Jahan was given the best education from extraordinary teachers who molded him into a highly cultured man.

Taj Mahal is based on red sandstone which is topped by a white marble terrace flanked by four minarets and in the center is the dome in it lies the cenotaph of the queen and it is encrusted with precious and semi precious jewels, right next to it lies the cenotaph of the Emperor which was built there afterwards the thought of keeping both the cenotaphs together was because of the great love they shared, although Taj Mahal was made only for the Queen. The emperor was deposed by his son Aurangzeb and held prisoner in the red fort, the only concession which made his life livable was that he had an uninterrupted view of the Taj Mahal through out his imprisonment which lasted 8 long years till his death.     

The Taj Mahal comprises of five main elements Rauza (mausoleum), Masjid (mosque), Darwaza (gateway), Bageecha (garden) and Naqqar Khana (rest house) 

The dome of the Taj Mahal is made of white marble and is 58 feet in diameter with a height of 213 feet; the minarets are 162.5 feet high. The archways are covered with passages from the Quran which is the holy book of Muslims and scroll designs in a flowery pattern, inside the entire mausoleum is covered with inlaid design of flowers which are calligraphed with precious and semi precious gems.

The Taj Mahal is one of the wonders of the world and that is evident by the changes which occur as the day progresses in the morning it is pinkish in the daytime its milky white and it turns golden in the moon light.  

Agra Fort

Agra Fort was built by Emperor Akbar on the west bank of the river Yamuna between 1565- 1573, the foundation was laid by Emperor Akbar and during the reign of Emperor Shahjahan this imposing Mahal made by and large with red sandstone was ready, it is surrounded by a moat which used to contain water from yamuna at one time and the double walls of the fort from a crescent along side river yamuna, the approximate height of the walls is 69 ft and they encircle the fort measuring 2.5 km.

There are two gates which lead into the fort Amar Singh Gate and the Delhi Gate. The entry is through the grand Amar Singh Gate which is the only entry point to the Fort; on the right side is the Jahangiri Mahal.

Jahangiri Mahal was built by Akbar and is the largest residence in the entire fort, there is a complex arrangement of halls, galleries and courtyards and at one time it was used as the zenana (royal harem). The courtyard has a two story Façade which has brackets carved with floral and animal motifs and the entire structure is covered in gilded decorations from cross beams to the pillars which support the veranda facing the river front. This is the most important building left over from Emperor Akbar, s time.

Khas Mahal is alongside the river front (Yamuna) and was built by Emperor Shah Jahan, the enclosure has 3 pavilions and the center one was used by the Emperor Shah Jahan as his sleeping chamber. The other two pavilions have Bangaldar roofs with golden pavilions and were the favorite places of the two Mughal Princesses Roshanara and Jahanara.

Sheesh Mahal and the royal baths are near the Musamman Burj and Sheesh Mahal was a changing room for the royalty, the entire wall has inlaid work with tiny mirrors and the glass mosaic is the best specimen left in India.

Musamman Burj is a double story octagonal tower which has a clear view of the Taj Mahal and was the place where Shah Jahan spent his last 8 years after being imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb. The tower has a marble dome which a carved fountain in the center and it is surrounded by a veranda, this place has the best view of the Taj Mahal and according to legend Shah Jahan spent his entire time gazing at the monument built for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.   

Diwan-i-Khas wasbuilt byShah Jahan, it’s a lavishly decorated hall with Pietra Dura work on its magnificent columns and the three sided pavilion is finely proportioned. There are two thrones placed on the terrace one made with white marble and the other made with black slates, which were used by the Emperor to watch Elephant Fights.

Machchhi Bhavan is bang opposite Diwan-i-Khas and was a place which had a great collection of marble fountains and pools in which the royals used to swim and cool of in the summer months.

Diwan-i-Am was the place where the Emperor used to meet the public and his officials. It is an arcaded hall which is situated in a courtyard, the throne alcove which has beautiful setting in inlaid marble; it provided a perfect setting for the Peacock Throne.

Nagina Masjid was built by Shah Jahan for his royal harem and was a private mosque.

Moti Masjid also built by Shah Jahan and has three domes and the entire mosque is built in white marble which is surrounded in red sand stone wall.


Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri was built by Emperor Akbar between 1571 to 1585 in memory of Sufi saint Salim Chisti and it was the capital of the Mughal Empire for 14 years till it had to be abandoned for lack of water. This place is a combination of two architecture heritages and is built in red sandstone, the dome and the arches signify the Islamic culture and the concentric circles separated the royal quarters which were private from the public places, the main sights to see here are the Turkish Sultana, s House, Diwan-i-Khas and Panch Mahal.

Turkish Sultana, s House has Dado panels and sculpted walls of stone which look like wood as the finishing is marvelous; the roof is made with clay tiles which look like stone.

Diwan-i-Khas is a true inspiration of Gujarati culture, the brackets and the central axis is predominantly Gujarati.

Panch Mahal is a five storied pavilion made with sandstone which is right next to the Paschisi court, the meeting point of all the Queens and there attendants in the evening to enjoy the cool breeze which wafted over the water.

Jodha Bai' s Palace is an amazing place which is surrounded with pavilions which are decorated glazed tiles and screened for the privacy for the Queen and is connected with Hawa Mahal which was the place for relaxation at the time of summers.

Birbal Bhawan was the residence ofEmperor Akbar’s prime minister and one of the nine jewels of Emperor Akbar’s court Raja Birbal, it is two stories high and the craftsmen ship is exact and to the detail.

Diwan-i-Aam was used for addressing the public and to look into there problems, the court of Emperor Akbar used to gather here and work out the problems faced by the public. It’s a rectangular courtyard with cloisters on three sides and on the western end was the throne of Emperor Akbar, there is a screen (Jali) on both sides through which the ladies could also attend the court.

Jama Masjid is one of the largest Mosques in India; Jama Masjid was constructed in the early 17th century. The Jama Masjid has exquisite workmanship and is decorated with colored tiles, inscriptions and inlaid geometric designs.
The entry to Jama Masjid is through the Bulund Darwaza and Badshahi Darwaza.


This place is just outside Agra and is the final burying ground for Emperor Akbar; the construction off this magnificent mausoleum was started by Emperor Akbar himself but was completed by his son Emperor Jahangir.

The entry is through magnificent red sand stone gate with a colossal central arch which has inlaid work on white marble with polychrome mosaic finished with colored stone and black slate, the corners are graced by marble minarets. The tomb is located in the center of a garden where there is an abundance of monkeys; this is an enclosed garden (charbagh) which is divided into four equal quarters representing the four phases of a mans life. The tomb is four stories high and is made with red sandstone pavilions, enclosed with marble screened terrace; the tomb is carved with arabesque and floral designs and Chinese cloud patterns.

This place can be covered in a to and fro journey from Agra itself.
There is an entry fee of 245 rupees for all foreign visitors and 10 rupees for Indian nationals. It is open on all weekdays.


This tomb contains cenotaphs of Asmat Begum and Mirza Ghiyas who was given the title of Itmad-ud-daulah (pillar of the state) by Emperor Akbar. This jewel box of marble was built by Nur Jahan wife of Emperor Jahangir and daughter of Asmat Begum and Mirza Ghiyas. It is on the river Yamuna and around 2 kilometers upstream from Taj Mahal.

This tomb is beautiful combination of lattice work, white marble, stone inlay and colored mosaic and marks the transition from red sandstone to marble; the pietra dura technique was used here for the first time in mughal architecture, the niches painted with floral patterns, fruit and wine decanters and trees are embellished in the central chamber of the main tomb. The marble screens are made from a single slab of marble carved complex ornamental patterns with perforated marble screens.

There are four minarets 12 meters tall on each corner of the tomb with open pillared domed pavilions on the top of the minarets with tapering pinnacles and lotus moldings on the crown of the minarets.

The tomb itself is 21 meters high and stands bang in the center of a charbagh, the central chamber contains the tomb of Itmad-ud-daulah and his wife, and the exact replicas are placed in the marble screened upper pavilion as well.
The shape of the dome is different from the conventional domes of this period; it is shaped like a canopy.

Radha Swami Samadhi has been under construction for the past 100 years; this marble temple is surrounded by lush green lawns and is the epic center of the Radhaswami religion. The ashes of the founder of this religion are preserved here.

Taj Mahotsav is a ten day Mela (carnival) heldnear theTaj Mahal every year in February at Shilpgram. This place comes alive with a potpourri of classical dance performances, authentic folk music, ride some camels and elephants, listen to musical recitals from maestros and enjoy the exotic cuisines and the mouth watering ethnic delicacies from the heart land of Uttar Pradesh. There is a vast collection of ethnic products from across this might state, for example silk from Benaras, carpets from Badohi, Chikan work from Lukhnow, word work and carving from Saharanpur, metal and Brass work from Moradabad and pottery from Khurja.

Chinni Ka Roja is thetomb of Afzal Khan and was constructed by him using brightly colored glazed tiles on the façade; there is evidence of Persian influence in the architecture.  Afzal Khan was a minister and a renowned poet in the court of Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan. 

There is a wide variety of places to stay in Agra from low budget hotels to really opulent hotels and resorts.

Five star hotels

  • Welcome group Mughal Sheraton
  • Clarks Shiraz
  • Jaypee Palace Hotel and Convention Center
  • Hotel Taj View
  • Hotel Amar Vilas
  • Howard Park Plaza International
  • Hotel Agra Ashok

Four star

  • Holiday Inn
  • The Trident

Three star

  • Deedar-e- Taj
  • Mansingh Palace
  • Hotel Amar

Government run Hotels

  • Mayur Tourist Complex
  • Hotel Amar Yatri Niwas

The best time to visit Agra is from November till March. There are good rail and road connections from Delhi and the distance from Delhi is 204kms.

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