The history of Agra dates back to the Mahabharata times when it was called Agrabana or Paradise. It has got a place on the world map designed by Ptolemy, the famous geographer of the 2nd century AD. Many of the monuments in and around Agra that we see today were built during the reign of Akbar and Shahjahan. The Agra Fort, Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, keeps the city a busy tourist destination. The Mughal emperor Babur established his capital here in 1526.
Agra city is lively and there is a number of places to eat and stay but it is also annoyingly crowded with rickshaw-wallahs, self-styled guides, touts, and newspaper/magazine vendors, who are capable of making firsttime travelers, easily irritated. Although viewing the Taj Mahal in the moonlight (only on select days of the month) is a wonderful sight, many travellers opt to visit Agra on a day trip. It is really worth to delve deeper in and around Agra.
How to get there
The new NH2 stretching about 253 km connects Delhi and Agra. There is plenty of government and private buses along this route. A taxicab is also a better choice for a luxury ride. The main bus stands are Agra Fort and the Idgah bus stand. Agra is well
connected by rail with Delhi, Varanasi and the cities of Rajasthan. The main railway station is the Agra Cantonment station. There are many trains connecting Delhi and Agra like the Shatabdi, Rajdhani, Taj Express and luxury trains like the Palace on Wheels. Agra airport is connected with all major cities of the country. The Delhi-Agra flight takes only 40 minutes. There are daily to and fro flights from Delhi to Agra, Khajuraho and Varanasi. Agra airport is located 7 km from the city center.
|§f Places of interest Taj Mahal: Taj Mahal is a spellbinding white- marble beauty and one of the most elegant masterpieces of architecture. Listed as the seventh wonder of the world and a World Heritage Monument by the UNESCO, this perfectly symmetrical dream in marble is located in the city of Agra, on the banks of the Yamuna River.
The lasting monument to love, Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in memory of his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, a Persian princess. The construction of Taj Mahal was started in 1631 and took nearly 22 years. Twenty thousand people from India, Central Asia and Europe were deployed to work on it. The material was brought in from all over India. Iranian architect Ustad Isa designed the Taj with a view to make it a ‘symbol of eternal love.’
The Taj rises on a high red sandstone base topped by a huge white marble terrace on which rests the famous dome flanked by four tapering minarets. Like a jewel, the Taj
sparkles in the moonlight. A total of 400 tourists are permitted to see the Taj Mahal, on or around moonlit nights, on five specific nights in a month. These nights are the full moon night itself and the two nights before and after the full moon night. Interestingly, the Taj is pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden when the moon shines. These changes are compared to the different moods of a woman.
The spectacular mausoleum has been hit by pollution and a huge restoration project was carried out to restore its original glory. Several measures are being taken to protect this monument which includes a ban on new industrial ventures in Agra and only nonpolluting vehicles are allowed within 500 meters of the Taj.
Agra Fort: Close to the gardens of the Taj Mahal lies this important Mughal monument, also known as Lai Qila, Rouge and the Red Fort of Agra. The Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Fleritage site, located about 2.5 km northwestoftheTaj Mahal.
The construction of the expansive red- sandstone Fort and Palace on the bank of the Yamuna river was begun by Emperor Akbar in 1565. It comprises many fairy-tale palaces, like the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal, built by Shah Jahan; audience halls, like the Diwan-i-Khas; and two magnificent mosques. It is the most important fort in India and it housed the largest state treasury and mint. The Fort saw many foreign ambassadors, travellers and the highest dignitaries who took part in the making of history in India