AGRA – A GLORIUS HERITAGE
Agra is a city on the banks of Yamuna River. It finds mention in the epic Mahabharata when it was called Agrabana, or Paradise. Ptolemy the famous second century geographer marked it on his map of the world as Agra. It is generally accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lodi, the ruler of Delhi Sultanate founded Agra in the year 1504 but the golden age of the city began with Mughals after 1526. It was known then as Akbarabad and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under Emperor Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. While Agra’s significance as a political centre ended with the transfer of the capital to Delhi by Shan Jahan, its architectural wealth has secured the city’s place on the international map.
Taj Mahal (Distance. 9.7 km) — Taj Mahal was built by the grief sticken Emperor Shahjahan as memorial to his beloved wife Mumtaj Mahal. This world renowned wonder sits pretty on the northern side of the green paradise. It looks same from all the four sides. The Quranic inscriptions on its four entrances are carved in such subtle increase in size from top to bottom. Shahjahan invited master craftsman from places like Italy and Persia to help design his ambitious tribute to love.
The Taj Mahal is Phenomenal not in the beauty alone that shines forth, but in the deep planning and design that went into its making and the ethereal idea of immortalizing love. Delicate carvings in marble vie with gorgeous peitra dura for attention. Lapislazuli, Cornelian, Jasper, Melachite, Coral, Mother of Pearl. A gate and Emerald are inlayed in floral and geometrical patterns in the marble itself. Construction of this enchanting mausoleum, on the bank of Yamuna started in 1631 and it took 22 years to complete it with the help of an estimated 2000 workers.
Fabulous view of the Taj Mahal in Full Moon Light (2 days before and 2 days after full moon night). Night viewing of the Taj Mahal is closed in the month of Ramzon and every Fridays. In the year 1983 Taj Mahal was awarded the title of ‘World Heritage Site’. Except Friday Taj Mahal remains open six days a week, For Children below the age of 15 years are complimentary. The Taj Museum at Taj Mahal is worth watching, it remains open from 09.00 am to 05.00 pm. The Museum is located on the western side of Taj Mahal Complex, this museum has wide collections of Mughal Miniature Paintings, Scriptures, Arms and Ammunitions, The route map of Taj Mahal Complex along with two marble pillars of Agra Fort. Just at the front of Taj Mahal there is huge garden named ‘Char Bagh’, beautifully decorated with varieties of flowers, fountains and thick carpet of green grass. The garden was built in French architectural style.
Taj Nature walks (Distance 9.5 km) — A beautiful nature forest cover spread over 70 hectares of area just 500 metres. Away from the Eastern Gate of Taj Mahal. An excellent view of the Taj can be found from the different mounds of the park. Flora and Fauna of different species are also seen here.
Agra Fort (Distance 4.7 km) — The great Mughal Emperor, Akbar built this world heritage monument in red sand stone as a military citadel. In eight years (1565 – 1571) the fort was ready, yet successive monarchs could not resist adding their insignia by adding personalized palaces and mosque like Moti Maszid, Diwan-e-Aam, Diwan-e-Khas, Jahangir’s Palace, Khaas Mahal, Sheesh Mahal and Musamman Burz (where Shahajahan was held captive). Agra Fort located within 2.5 km from Taj Mahal on the western banks of Yamuna River. Though Agra Fort has many entrances, but except ‘Amarsingh Darwaza’ all other gates remains closed for tourist’s entry. Every day at 07.00 pm and 08.00 pm Agra Development Authority hosts light and sound show at Agra Fort.
Radhawami Smadhi, Dayalbagh: (Distance – 10 km) — Dayalbagh, a tribute to the founder of Radha Swami Faith, Devoute followers believes the service purifies the soul. At Dayalbagh their services bears fruit in an edifice as their spectacular as the Taj built in white and coloured marble, it is continuously being decorated for 100 years now with extra-ordinary feast in stone and gems.
Chini Ka Roza (Distance – 11.2 km) — Mausoleum of Shahahan’s prime minister a Persian poet Afzal Khan, was built in 1635, exhibit fine use of glazed titles. A curtain raiser to an exotic Persian art style, which finds for itself a home in Agra.
Itmad-ud-daulah (Baby Taj) — The exquisite marbles tomb was made by emperor Jahangir’s queen, Nurjahan, in the memory of her father Mirza Ghias Beg during 1622 – 1628 A.D. Built entirely in white marbles mausoleum on the bank of Yamuna River, exhibit a strong Persian influence. It is a precursor to Taj Mahal also known as Baby Taj.
Mehtab Bagh (Distance 12 km) — Mehtab Bagh is located on the bank of River Yamuna opposite to the Taj Mahal. The garden complex is a huge square measuring approximately 300 m x 300 m and in straight aliment with the Taj Mahal. The excavation has recealed a huge octagonal tank at the centre and a gateway at the Northern wall.
Sikandra (Distance: 13.5 km) — It is the mausoleum of Emperor Akbar. It represents his philosophy and secular outlook, combining the best of Hindu and Muslim architectures in a superlative fusion. Completed in 1613 AD. It is one of the well preserved.
Fatehpur Sikri (Distance 39 km) — A worlds Heritage site built by the mughal Emperor Akbar during 1564 AD. Sonless Akbar went to Sikri for blessings of the Muslim saint Sheikh Salim Chishti. When his son was born, the emperor as gratitude developed this place as his capital and named it Faethpur Sikri. The beautiful marble tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti attracts thousands who seek blessing of the revered saint. Other renowned places are Diwan-e-Khas, Dewan-e-Am, Buland Darwaza, Panch Mahal, Jodha Bai’s palace and Birbal’s House. From Agra around 39 km to the south – west is ‘Fatehpur Sikri’. Here Emperor Akbar built a palace of Indo – Islamic style and started ‘Nava Ratna’ of which the centre of attraction was ‘Birbal’. Here the ‘Birbal Palace’ made of red sand stone is also a site of tourist visit and at the other side of the palace is ‘Buland Darwaza’. This 41 meter high amazing gate is the gateway to the tomb of Salim Chisti beautifully decorated with designed marbles. The other end is the gateway to the main area of the palace and ‘Ibadat Khana’, here Emperor Akbar held his religious meeting. Fatehpur Sikri was earlier known by the name Fatehabad. From 1571 to 1585 Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of Mughal Empire. Fatehpur Sikiri is mainly famous for Jama Masjid, but apart from this Bageshwar Nath Temple, Jahangir Palace and Mehtab Bagh are also among the places of tourist’s interest.
Bateswar (Distance 70 km) — Bateswar is renowned for sky-high Hindu Temples. In the arena, there is an atmosphere of Hindu religion, which depicts Hindu mythology, faith, culture and old architecture with sophisticated religious designs, besides Bateswar Nath temple and Lord Shiva the worth seeing the famous temple at Bhimeswar, Narmadesawr, Rameshwar, Moteshwar, Jageshwar, Panchmukhishwar, Patelshwar, Gauri Shankar’s Nemi Nath jain temple. The cattle fair of Bateshwar also attracts huge crowed of farmers, shopkeepers and cattle merchants.
Patna Bird Sanctuary (57 km) — Emerging like an oasis in the arid zone of Jaleshwar Taluq of Etah district, is the Patna Bird sanctuary, spread over an area of about 108 hectares of land, this resort for migratory birds and local birds was given reconnecting as a protected sanctuary in the year 1991. Omit holists have accounted for about 300 different species of exotic birds with multicolour plumes clustering here for roosting and breeding during peak season of winter. Besides the migratory birds, Patna Bird sanctuary, is a permanent abode for local birds also, those abound all throughout the year. An old and historic temple dedicated to lord Shiva, attracts thousands of pilgrims for spiritualistic pursuits every year.
Cahmbal Safari: (October – March) (80 km on Fatehpur Road) — An opportunity to experience the natural and historical heritage of the Chambal Valley.
The Chambal Safari is an attempt to acquaint visitors with a land that has retained its unique landscapes, rugged charm and rare wildlife. A mere 70 km southeast of Agra (home of Taj Mahal) and 125 km of Bharatpur, it is a world far removed from the chaotic madness of modern Indian cities.
Accompanied by experienced local guides and naturalists, visitors may explore the Chambal valley at their own pace, on boats, Camels back, jeeps or on foot.
Mela Kothi – The Chambal Safari Lodge — The Mela Kothi is an oasis of and tranquillity nestling in the midst of a sprawling 35 acre heritage plantation, surrounded by family owned farmland. The plantation is part of a much larger area that was used by the Zamindars (feudal Chieftains) of Jarar to conduct their annual cattle fair (Mela). The Chambal Safari Lodge is also ideally located for easy access to a number of secluded and isolated sites of natural and historical importance.
Festivals of Agra
Taj Mahotsav — This 10 days long carnival is held as an annual event between 18- 27 Feb at Agra. It is one of the most cherished cultural festivals of art, craft, culture and cuisine, included in the calendar of events Dept. Of Tourists, GOI. In this festival about 400 artisans from all over the country participate and sell their crafts at the most reasonable prices. Here one can also enjoy the music and dances from the cultural heritage of India.
Bateshwar Fair — This month long festival is held annually during the month of November. It is one of the oldest and largest cattle fair in Northern India.
Tourists are supposed to buy the ASI and ADA tickets to visit the various monuments in Agra.
For all the monuments ASI will charge the Indian rates from the national of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries while no such provisions has been made DA tickets.
ADA offers a considerable ticket of Rs.500/- which is valid to all monuments i.e. Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Sikandra, Etmud-ud-Daula and Fatehpur Sikri. While ASI do not have any such consolidated ticket.
No entry fees for children below the age of 15 years both Indian / Foreigner.
Taj Mahal is closed on every Friday.
Agra Development Authority (A.D.A) does not levy any toll tax on Friday in any monument.
Visiting hours: Taj Mahal from Sunrise to Sunset, other Monuments from Sunrise to Sunset.
How to Reach
By Air — The nearest airport is at Agra.
By Rail — The nearest railway station is Agra and Mathura is major rail junction with a number of trains from all over the country. Bharatpur, Ranthambore (with change at Bharatpur), Bandavgarh (Katni, Umaria) and Kanha (Jabalpur) national parks are well serviced by the network from Agra.
Altitude — 169 Meter above sea level.
Area — 82 square kilometer.
Language — Hindu, Urdu, English