If you are looking to experience the splendour of the Mughals, and bask in the glories of India’s golden age, then Agra is the place for you. Part of the Golden Triangle, along with New Delhi and Jaipur, Agra is the most popular tourist destination in India.
Before the Muslin period Agra was not a swell known area but there are records which describe it as a thriving city with a protective fort nestled within several hills.
Agra was transformed into the country’s capital in 1504 when Sikandar Lodi, the Sultan of Delhi, in order for him to watch out for trouble from warring factions. Buildings and ruins are still visible from this period, still retaining Agra’s history and splendour.
The Taj Mahal is perhaps the country’s number one tourist attraction and can be found in Agra. Millions of tourists from all over the world come to India just to visit this amazing tomb, which is considered to be the archetype of Mughal architecture.
It was commissioned by the emperor Shah Jahan to be the final resting place for his beloved wife, Arjumand Bann Begum, also known as Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14thchild. More than 20,000 men took 20 years to build this magnificent testament to her beauty and his love for her. Marble from Makrana was imported to India, along with semi-precious jewels from Tibet, Russia, Persia, China and the Indian Ocean. The Taj Muhal was finally completed in 1653 and holds the body of both the emperor and his wife.
The Agra Fort is another much loved tourist attraction. Located about 2km north of Agra and sitting in a bend on the Yanuma River, the red-sandstone fortress appears as though it has been set alight if you arrive at sunrise or sunset. It was constructed on earlier fortifications and became a symbol of the strength of the Mughal rulers.
The Agra Fort reaches a height of 20 meters and covers a distance of 2.5km dotted with a collection of imposing gates. However, the only gate which is open to the public is Amar Singh Pol.
Because of its vast distance, to explore the beauty of Agra you will spend a lot of time in either taxis or rickshaws. Due to the constant traffic and the poor conditions of the road, travelling from one tourist attraction to another is time consuming to say the least. One of the worst places to try and cross is the Yamuna River.
If you are travelling short distances then cycle rickshaws are perhaps your best bet. In addition to this, they provide a livelihood for the city’s poorer residents, as well as being a greener way to travel than what cars or motorbikes are. However, you may find yourself being pestered by rickshaw drivers to try and use their services.
If you don’t mind bargaining then auto-rickshaws are quite affordable and faster – but come to an agreed price before you set off. For those who like to travel more environmentally friendly, the electric bus is a good way to travel between the Taj Muhal and the Agra Fort.
Agra is a beautiful place to visit; it is a destination where the glories and splendour of the past still shines brightly for the entire world to see.