Agra the former capital of Hindustan, is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is 363 kilometres (226 mi) west of the state capital, Lucknow, and 200 kilometres (124 mi) south of the national capital New Delhi. With a population of 1,686,976 (2010 est.), it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most populous in India. Agra can also refer to the administrative district that has its headquarters in Agra City.
Places of interest:
Tāj Mahal is one of the most famous buildings in the World, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan's favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, and one of three World Heritage Sites in Agra. Completed in 1653, the Tāj Mahal was built by the Mughal king Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his beloved wife, Mumtāz Mahal. Finished in marble, it is perhaps India's most fascinating and beautiful monument. This perfectly symmetrical monument took 22 years (1630–1652) of labour and 20,000 workers, masons and jewellers to build and is set amidst landscaped gardens.
Built by the Persian architect, Ustād 'Īsā, the Tāj Mahal is on the south bank of the Yamuna River. It can be observed from Agra Fort from where Emperor Shāh Jahān gazed at it for the last eight years of his life, a prisoner of his son Aurangzeb. It is an acknowledged masterpiece of symmetry. Verses of the Koran are inscribed on it and at the top of the gate are twenty-two small domes, signifying the number of years the monument took to build. The Tāj Mahal was built on a marble platform that stands above a sandstone one. The most elegant dome of the Tāj Mahal has a diameter of 60 feet (18 m), and rises to a height of 80 feet (24 m); directly under this dome is the tomb of Mumtāz Mahal. Shah Jahān's tomb was erected next to hers by his son Aurangzeb. The interiors are decorated with fine inlay work, incorporating semi-precious stones.
Agra Fort (sometimes called the Red Fort), was commissioned by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1565, and is another of Agra's World Heritage Sites. A stone tablet at the gate of the Fort states that it had been built before 1000 but was later renovated by Akbar. The red sandstone fort was converted into a palace during Shāh Jahān's time, and reworked extensively with marble and pietra dura inlay. Notable buildings in the fort include the Pearl Mosque or Motī Masjid, the Dīwān-e-'Ām and Dīwān-e-Khās (halls of public and private audience), Jahāngīr's Palace, Khās Mahal, Shīsh Mahal (mirrored palace), and the Musamman Burj.
The Mughal Emperor Akbar built Fatehpūr Sikrī about 35 km (22 mi) from Agra, and moved his capital there. Later abandoned, the site displays a number of buildings of significant historical importance. A World Heritage Site, it is often visited by tourists. The name of the place came about after the Mughal Emperor Bābar defeated Rāṇā Sāngā in a battle at a place called Sikrī (about 40 km (25 mi) from Agra). Then the Mughal Emperor Akbar wanted to make Fatehpūr Sikrī his head quarters, so he built a majestic fort; due to shortage of water, however, he had to ultimately move his headquarters to Agra Fort.
The Mankameshwar Temple is one of four ancient temples dedicated to Lord Shiva located on the four corners of Agra City. It is located near the Jāma Masjid and is about 2.5 kilometers from the Tāj Mahal and less than 1 km (1 mi) from Agra Fort. Being located in the old city, the temple is surrounded by markets, many of which date back to the Mughal Era.
Swāmī Bāgh Samādhi:
The Swāmī Bāgh Samādhi is a monument to hold the ashes of Huzūr Swāmijī Mahārāj (Shrī Shiv Dayāl Singh Seth) in the Swāmībāgh section, on the high road that goes from Bhagwan Talkies to Dayāl Bāgh, in the outskirts of the city. He was the founder of the Radhāswāmī Faith and the Samādhi is sacred to its followers. Construction began in February 1904 and still continues. Many believe that construction will never end at Swāmī Bāgh – it is often seen as the next Tāj Mahal. The carvings in stone, using a combination or coloured marble, are lifelike and not seen anywhere else in India. The picture shown is taken from the rear of the building and shows only two floors. When completed, the Samādhi will have a carved dome and a gateway.
Indrabhan Girls' Inter College:
It is widespreadly considered to be the birthplace of great poet Mirza Ghalib. It is located near the Mankameshwar Temple and is about 3 kilometers from the Tāj Mahal and less than 1 km (1 mi) from Agra Fort. Being located in the old city, the College is surrounded by markets. Approximately four or five years back, the birth room of Mirza Ghalib was hidden behind the wall by the Management of the college to keep the identity of the place secret.