Millennium Post

Introducing Agra beyond Taj

Any mention of Agra is incomplete without the Taj Mahal. On closer inspection though, the city offers a more dynamic platter, with astounding architectural delights that enhance India’s voluminous cultural past, writes Swati Jain.

The historically rich heritage of Agra cannot be sufficiently described in words. It is synonymous to the majestic Taj Mahal, a splendid white tomb which has been an acclaimed emblem of love. The city of Agra, since ages, has been defined by this distinctive monument, built by Shah Jahan for his lady love, and will perhaps remain so for eternity. Undoubtedly, the Taj Mahal tops the list for everyone traveling to Agra and India at large. But the city hosts other delightful sights, which are overshadowed by one of the seven wonders of the world.

Mehtab Bagh: A century-old Mughal garden complex, it opens up to the perfect view of the Taj Mahal. Known as the Moonlight Garden, Mehtab Bagh was built by the emperor Babur in the 1500s. A significant aspect of this garden is that it is designed and aligned exactly complementing the width of the white tomb, providing picture perfect views of the Taj Mahal, from every corner.
Sikandra: This idyllic monument built in red sandstone with a white marble inlay, is the tomb of one of the greatest Mughal rulers, Akbar. A striking thing about this place is that Akbar had himself started the construction of this monument, whose design features are similar to that of the Taj Mahal, which was built much later. An impressive gateway with four minarets that have been intricately carved and a portico in front of the grave in the basement, which is covered with beautiful stucco paintings, the monument will give you an essence of the detailing with which it has been conceptualised. Akbar's daughters Shakrul Nisha Begum and Aram Bano are also entombed here
Agra Fort: Once considered to be the home of the famous 'Kohinoor' diamond, Agra Fort is one of the most significant stoutly strongholds of the Mughal empire. Embroidered with a number of splendidly decorated buildings encircling the Mughal style of art and architecture, this fort was constructed by the third Mughal emperor, Akbar, on the remains of an ancient site known as Badalgarh. The Agra Fort has been recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Buland Darwaza: Considered to be one of the highest gateways in the world, the Buland Darwaza is 40.84 metres high and was built on a platform which is 13.52 metres high. It took nearly 12 years to build this historic structure, which celebrates Akbar's conquest over Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat in 1601. The gate has bold inscriptions from Hindu and Christian texts and verses from the Quran, all of which personify Akbar's worldly outlook.
Itimad-ud-Daulah: Also known as the Baby Taj, this finely carved monument built in white marble is also regarded as a draft of the Taj Mahal. Regarded as the mausoleum of Mirza Ghiyas Beg, this monument was commissioned by his daughter Nur Jahan, the beautiful and most adorable wife of Jahangir. Mirzā Ghiyās Beg was also the grandfather of Mumtāz Mahāl, the wife of emperor Shah Jahan. Itimad-ud-Daulah is a true embodiment of a daughter's love for her father.
Fatehpur Sikri: 37 kilometers from Agra, this city, from the 16th century, owes its existence to Akbar. According to the historic texts, Akbar was worried that he had no heirs and visited the saint, Shaikh Salim Chishti, who then lived in Sikri. By the blessings of this revered saint Akbar was blessed with three sons. As a gesture of gratitude, he built a whole new city in Sikri. A true embodiment of the extravagance of the Mughals, Fatehpur is a delight to be visited.
Jami Masjid: Agra's Jama Masjid is also popularly known as Jami Masjid or the 'Friday Mosque'. This carved red sandstone mosque was built by Shah Jahan and was dedicated to the emperor's favourite daughter, Jahanara Begum.
Sadar Bazar: A trip to Agra remains incomplete without roaming around the old market and wandering the lanes of Sadar Bazaar, which emanates the real essence of everyday hustle-bustle in Agra.
Panchi Petha: Quite famous in Agra, the old and traditional store of Panchi Petha serves delicious Petha in various flavours including chocolate and elaichi. Don't forget to indulge yourself in one. If possible get it packed for your loved ones.

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