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Entry to Taj <graphic>(9699 bytes) The city of Taj was established in 1475 by Badal Singh. But the city has its mention in the Mahabharata as Agraban. This city in those days was concidered to be the sister city of Mathura which was more in action than Agraban. Thus, Agra is an ancient city which has seen time flow infront of her eyes. Thsi city came into prominence when the Lodhi Kings choose this place beside the Yamuna to be their capital city. Sikander Lodhi made Agra as his capital but Babur defeated the Lodhis to capture not only agra but also laid down the foundation of the Mughal empire. The coming of Babur heralded a new era which was to see Arga at its Zenith during the reign of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. It was during Akbars period that Agra became the center of art, culture and commerce and learning. This trend went its height when Shah Jahan became the ruler. Agra went off track when the capital of Moghals was shifted from Agra to Delhi but even then Agra maintained its chram which still hangs after centuries have goneby.

<<-- Pictograph 1 Entrance of the Taj Mahal

In the mid 16th century and earlier 17th century Agra witnessed a frenzied building activity and it was during this time when the symbol of love Taj Mahal was built. The bulidings made during this era were purely in the contemporray Mughal style and of very high quality whichis still reflected in what ever monuments remain in Agra.The narrow lanes of Agra filled with aroma of Mughlai cusine, the craftsman who are busy in crating master pieces with their skill all remind of the Mughal royalty which this city had once experienced. Today whatever remains, has become a major tourist attraction which has taken Agra again to the heights of glory but this time as a major tourist destination of India.

Agra is not only a famous tourist destination but is a shoppers paradise too. There are plenty of shopping areas and shopping malls where one can buy the specialities of the place. Agra is famous for the Taj Mahal made out of Marble, the markets are bound to have replica of the Taj in marble being sold as decorative, gift item or as soveiners. But the all that looks is not marble. There is one stone called Talk. This stone is cheap and looks like marble only difference being that marble is opaque and talk is not. So, while purchasing any marble item make sure that you are buying the oroginal thing.
Pictograph 2  Taj Mahal -->>
Taj Mahal <graphic> (16610 bytes)

Agra is also famous for the leather items. Agra is the hub of hand made leather items. Particularly the Agra jail inmates are make these items which are sold to give them a decent earning. The local artisans are also good at making leather chappals, purses, bags, decorative items and many more such leather product which instantaniously attracts your attention. In the handi craft emporiums and shops there are sandal and rose wood items even though there are no rose or sandal wood forest nearby. The shops also have brass decorative pieces and stone carved images. Agra is also famous for the Zari and embroidery work, Stone inlay work and durries.

Agra is one of the hottest tourist destinations in India and all facilities have been provided for the easy access to this place. It has its own airport which connects Agra with all the major places in India. The Agra airport or the Kheria airport has all the major domestic airlines havinmg their services to this place of the Taj. Agra is a major railway station with almost all the trains to south India, Mumbai and many trains to Calcutta stopping here. The city is visited by the "Palace on Wheels" .The Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains have also their stopage in Agra. The city is weel connected by trains to almost every corner of the nation. Agra has the national highway numbers 2, 3, 11 passing through it. So the premier tourist destination of India is also well linked by bus services to other places in the State as well as outside the state. The state transports have delux as well as ordinary bus services for the place. There are conducted tours which take tourist not only to Agra but the near by tourist spots too.

Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb - This tomb belongs to the father of Nur Jahan, Ghias-ud-Din Beg. He was the Wajir or the Chief Minister of Emperor Jehangir. Thsi whirte marble tomb was built by Nur Jahan between 1622 and 1628. The tomb may not be as mamoth 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 emteriors. A similar tomb was built by Nur Jahan for Jehangir in Lahore. This tomb was the first complete marble Moghul structure.

Chini-Ka-Rauza - A tomb of glazed tiles is a memorial dedicated to poet-scholar and later the Prime Minister of Shah Jahan, Allama Afzel Khal Mullah Shukrullah of Shiraz.

Jama Masjid- Built by Shah Jahan in 1648, the main gate of this mosque has inscription written on it that it was built by Jahanara Begum. She was the favourite daughter of Shah Jahan and was imprisoned with him. The absence of minarets and the shape of the dome give sit a distinguished character.

Taj Mahal - Even as the world is caught in the skirmishes of War & peace, Nuclear and Non-Nuclear; Taj has stood as the epitome of love. This extravagant monument of love is one of the most visited and most photographed places in the world. Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal was the culmination point of Indo-Persian architecture. The Mughals Emperor were always fond of constructing monuments. Perhaps they knew that they would be gone but these structures will remind the world of their grandeur. Shah Jahan was particularly fond of building . He built the city of Shah Jahanabad which today is called the old Delhi.He loved construction more than that he loved his wife. Mumtaz Mahal as the name indicates, her beauty is compared with the light of heavan. She died while giving birth to her fourteenth child. Shah Jahan was so shocked by her death that his hair turned grey over night.

Red Fort of Agra - Built principally as a military establishment by Akbar in 1565, the red sandstone Agra fort was partially converted into a palace during Shah Jahan's time. Though the principle structure was built by Akbar many more additions were made by his grandsons.

Information written & Compiled by Anurag Prasad
For travel.indiamart.com

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