AGRA is a city of monuments and mystique. Falling in the state of Uttar Pradesh, it is a three hour journey from the National Capital of Delhi. The expressway connecting Delhi to Agra gives the traveller the same delight as the train ride.
Agra is a place of architectural marvel. It was one of the most important cities in the Mughal Dynasty and that justifies the effect of Mughal culture on every aspect of life. Agra beholds one of the seven wonders of the world- the Taj Mahal. Strolling through the narrow streets crowded with shops and tourists, leading to the beautiful structure, when one enters the gate of the Taj Mahal, one is bound to stand agape for a long time staring at the beautiful human creation. It is indeed a wonder to look at.
The Taj Mahal stands as a testimony of love which was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in remembrance of his wife. The love of the emperor for his wife shines from each and every piece of the marble embedded on the dome. There are four towers surrounding the central dome. The garden in front of it adds to the beauty of the wonderful sight.
It is said that both emperor and his wife have been buried below the dome, a replica of which has been created inside for the visitors. The intricacy of the design and the craftsmanship involved is awe-inspiring, so much so that one can sit there forever staring at the beauty and enormity of love and art.
Agra is a small town with people thronging the narrow streets. It is a visible amalgamation of the Brij and Mughal culture with streaks of each scattered over the whole town. The cuisine also has an effect of both the periods. With the best Mughlai Chicken one would ever have to the most awesome vegetarian food available, the food is exquisite and traditional.
Bearing a typical small town aura, with the eyes of the locals screening each and every tourist welcoming them pleasantly is a common feature. There are shops selling small stone replicas of the Taj Mahal and other marble products, leather goods including traditional leather chapals and items of semi-precious stones. Handmade and handicraft shops are also a common sight in the market.
Located in North India, the climate is extreme, with temperatures soaring as high as 45⁰C in summers to extremely cold winters. Hence, one should choose an appropriate time to enjoy this beautiful town.
At an hour’s distance from Agra is the famous Fatehpur Sikri. It’s a walled city which was the political capital of India under the reign of Akbar. Made of sandstone and reflecting the bright sunlight, the walls of the fort stand high creating an impression of greatness in the minds of the onlooker.
The main entrance of the city is 175 feet high and is called the ‘Buland Darwaza’. It appears that the gate stands as a guardian to the fort against all the enemies and embraces the visitors with equal grandeur. When one steps inside the fort of Fatehpur Sikri, there is a realisation of the luxury and splendour of the Mughal emperor. A great effort has been put in the construction of every inch of the fort. In the centre of the city, there is the dargah of Sufi saint Salim Chishti who prayed and blessed the emperor with a son, who was eventually named after him.
From the main fort, one can see a small building where Akbar found his religion Din-e-illahi. Jodhabai Palace – the palace of one of Akbar’s wives is as exquisite as one can imagine. There are several other small buildings beside the fort that owns a place in the history of the Mughal Empire.
The entire city is an architectural wonder not only in terms of the intricate designs and structures but also for the very intelligent ways of ventilation and sense of direction employed which make the fort perfect for any season.
There are rooms in the fort which are now used as madrasas – schools operated by the mosque. Besides that there is a place inside the fort where the king’s courts men were buried.
When one stands in the middle of the fort, time seems to travel back to the period of the hustle bustle of the Mughal Empire. Mental imagery abounds the mind which makes one feel nostalgic and awestruck. The aura itself appears to be mobbed by the magnanimousness of the great dynasty.
Agra is a place worth visiting at least once in a lifetime – for the simplicity, serenity, the sense of love and sacrifice and the grandeur and royalty of the emperors long gone. The place makes one nostalgic as soon as one steps out and imprints itself on the mind of whoever who visits the town.