Agra, one of India’s most popular tourist destinations, holds an important place in history as it is home to many architectural wonders from the Mughal era. Agra is a city on the banks of the Yamuna river in the Agra district of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is one hundred and twenty eight miles south of the national capital New Delhi. One the best ways to get to Agra from is to take a train from New Delhi . Agra was the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1648, under the Emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. The Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Yoga tours visit Agra, Delhi, Jaipur, and the Uttar Pradesh Heritage Arc, commonly known as The Golden Triangle.
The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. This ivory-white marble mausoleum is the perfect example of the intricacy and brilliance of Persian and Mughal architecture, it is one of India’s many beautiful monuments and is set amidst landscaped gardens. Verses of the Quran are inscribed on it and at the top of the gate are twenty two small domes. Today, the Taj Mahal is a Unesco World Heritage site, and it continues its magical appeal, attracting approximately eight million tourists a year. Viewing of the Taj Mahal is usually permitted from sunrise to sunset, except Fridays.
Ram Bagh Garden
The Aram Bagh, commonly known as Ram Bagh today, is one of the oldest Mughal garden in India, and was built by the emperor Babur in 1528. It lies about one mile north of the Taj Mahal. Ram Bagh is said to be the oldest Mughal garden in the country. Mariams Tomb, is the tomb of Mariam, the wife of Emperor Akbar, and is within the compound of the Christian Missionary Society.
Agra Fort was commissioned by the conquering Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great in 1565. The red sandstone fort was converted into a palace during Shah Jahan’s reign, and reworked extensively with marble and pietra dura inlay. Notable buildings in the fort include the Pearl Mosque or Moti Masjid, the Diwan-i-Am, Jahangir’s Palace, Khas Mahal, Shish Mahal (mirrored palace), and the Musamman Burj. Shivaji visited the Agra Fort, as a result of the conditions of the Treaty of Purandar entered into with Mirzā Rājā Jaisingh.
The Red-Sandstone Palace
Fatehpur Sikri was the short-lived capital of the Mughal empire between 1572 and 1585. The city was erected in an area that supposedly suffered from water shortages and so was abandoned shortly after Akbar’s death. The red-sandstone palace walls are at their most atmospheric and photogenic near sunset. A structure called Aankh Michauli (blind man’s buff) is believed to be where the emperor would play the eponymous game with his queens. A vast sandstone courtyard nearby is named after another game, Pachisi, and is a life-sized version of the Indian board game. The tomb of Salim Chishti is an oasis of white in the midst of red sandstone.
Little Taj Mahal
The Empress Nur Jahan built Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb for her father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg, the Chief Minister of the Emperor Jahangir. Located on the left bank of the Yamuna river, the mausoleum is set in a large cruciform garden, crisscrossed by water courses and walkways. Itimad-ud-Daula is sometimes referred to as the baby Taj or a draft of the Taj Mahal, as it has been constructed with the same elaborate carvings and pietra dura (cut-out stone work) inlay techniques. The tomb is surrounded by beautiful gardens that make it the perfect site to relax in and experience the beauty of an old era that was rich in art, culture and history
Agra is a great place to sample traditional Mughlai cuisine, which combines Persian influences, such as nuts and dried fruits, with aromatic North Indian spices. Richly spiced, creamy curries feature on many restaurant menus and dishes are often shared. Petha, a sweet made using ash gourd, is one of the famous dishes of Agra. Paratha is a main dish from the Mughlai and is a pan-fried unleavened flatbread made from wheat flour and often served stuffed with various ingredients, mostly vegetarian.