| Agra (The city of Taj)
Agra was once the capital of the Mughal
empire and even today it seems to linger in the past. Not
surprising, for the Mughal emperors with their passion for
building, endowed the city with some of the finest structures
in the world. It is very easy to slip away here through the
centuries into the grandeur and intrigues of the Mughal court.
Agra is an old city and it is said that its name was derived
from Agrabana, a forest thats finds mention in the epic Mahabharta.
In more recent times Agra came into prominence when Sikandar
Lodi made it his capital city in 1501. The Lodi rule was to
end very soon and Agra passed into the possession of the Mughals.
It was during the time of the third emperor Akbar that Agra
came into its own. He embarked on the construction of the
massive Agra Fort in 1565. Though Akbar was diverted into
building a new capital at Fatehpur Sikari not far away, Agra
continued to retain its importance and Shah Jehan, Akbar's
grandson ornamented the city with that masterpiece of Mughal
architecture -the Taj Mahal and built several other beautiful
buildings within the Agra Fort.
Taj Mahal (Agra)
Described as the most extravagant monument ever built
for love, it was constructed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan
as a memorial to his queen Mumtaz Mahal, made out of white
marble took 22 years to complete (1630-1652 AD). Ustad Ahamad
Lahori, a Persian Architect, is said to be the main designer
and planner for this magnificent memorial. On full moon nights,
the glory of the Taj is at its best. Legend has it that once
the construction was completed, Shah Jehan had Lahori's hands
cut off and his eyes gouged out, so he would never be able
to duplicate the structure. Over the centuries, the Taj has
attracted more visitors than perhaps any other Monuments in
the country, and it is all too easy resort to conventional
superlatives when describing it. What makes the Taj Unique
is its perfect proportions, distinct femininity, medium of
construction and ornamentation. Its marble exterior reflects
rose and golden tints at sunrise and sunset, while it is dazzling
white during the day and glowes pearl-like in the moonlight
and during the monsoon. Standing on a high plinth, the Taj
Mahal is visible for miles around and forms a backdrop to
mustard fields and mud-walled villages. It can be seen from
guestrooms at some of Agra's hotels, as well as from the landscaped
gardens to the west of the complex.
This tomb belongs to the father of Nur Jahan, Ghias-ud-Din
Beg. He was the Wajir or the Chief Minister of Emperor Jehangir.
This white marble tomb was built by Nur Jahan between 1622
and 1628. The tomb may not be as mammoth as the Taj but the
inlay designs and carvings are no less than Taj if not more.
The delicate marble latticework in the passages allows the
light to enter the interiors. A similar tomb was built by
Nur Jahan for Jehangir in Lahore. This tomb was the first
complete marble Moghul structure.
Agra Fort (Agra)
Construction of the massive red sandstone Agra Fort
on the bank of the Yamuna River was begun by Emperor Akbar
in 1565, though additions were made up until the rule of his
grandson, Shah Jahan. In Akbar's time the fort was principally
a military structure, but during Shah Jaha regin it had partially
become Palace. It is an imposing strcture with walls of red
sandstone almost three kilometers long. Entered through the
Amar Singh Gate, the eastern part of the fort contain palace,
audience hall and mosques built by three emperors. The fort
presents a good sampling of their favoured architectural styles.
Akbar drew on Islamic and Hindu traditions and the result
is eclectic. By Shah Jahan's time the style had become so
homogenized that it is impossible to seprate the Hindu and
Muslim strands. The Diwan-i-Am (public audience hall), the
beautiful Diwan-i-Khas (private audience hall) and the magnificent
Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) were also added by Shah Jahan.
Jami Masjid (Agra)
Across the railway tracks from the Delhi Gate of
Agra Fort, the Jami Masjid was built by Shah Jahan in 1648.
An inscription over the main gate indicates that it was built
in the name of Jahanara, Shah Jahan's daughter, who was eventually
imprisoned with Shah Jahan by Aurangzeb.
Chini Ka Rauza (Agra)
It is the only building in India to be decorated
exclusively with glazed tile work. The tiny mausoleum overlooking
the River Yamuna was the tomb of Afzal Khan, a minister in
the court of Shah Jahan.
Previously known as Araambagh, is the probably amongst
one of the first Mughal monuments of India. Built by Emperor
Babar in 1526 for his recreation, its architecture shows Afghani
Jahangir Mahal (Agra)
The biggest private residence in the Fort is the
Jahangir Mahal, the Palace of Emperor Jahangir. It is an excellent
blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture. The palace has a hall
which is called Jodhabai's dressing Room. Jodhabai was Jahangir's
Hindu mother. Its desigen and layout is essentially Hindu.
Later the palace was used by Jahangir's Dressing Room. Jodhabai
was Jahangir's Hindu mother. Its design and layout is essentially
Hindu. Later the palace was used by Jahangir's queen Noorjahan,
the Light of the World. Jahangir was very found of wine as
well as his queen whom he adored even more. The love of wine
interfered in the day do day running of the Government. To
help him out in administering imperial justice, Noorjahan
sat with her husband to advise him in taking decisions. She
was an iron lady and never tolerated opposition. Those who
came in her way ended mysteriously in the yamuna river.
Chisti's Tomb (Agra)
The Gateway buildings leads to the Friday mosque
or the Jami Masjid.
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