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Agra, Uttar Pradesh

Taj Mahal, One of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Beautiful Taj Mahal was made in white marble...

Agra - Uttar Pradesh

Agra is the city of the Taj Mahal, in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, some 200 km from Delhi.

Agra has three UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort in the city and Fatehpur Sikri 40 km away. There are also many other buildings and tombs from Agra's days of glory as the capital of the Mughal Empire.

Besides these three sites, the city has little else to recommend it. Pollution, especially smog and litter, is rampant and visitors are pestered by swarms of touts and hawkers at every monument, besides the inner Taj Mahal which, once you are in, is free of scams and touts. The sites are some of the wonders of the world and no trip to India is complete without at least one visit to the Taj. For the vast majority of visitors, a single day in Agra is more than enough.

The magical allure of the Taj Mahal draws tourists to Agra like moths to a wondrous flame. And despite the hype, it’s every bit as good as you’ve heard. But the Taj is not a stand-alone attraction. The legacy of the Mughal empire has left a magnificent fort and a liberal sprinkling of fascinating tombs and mausoleums, and there’s also fun to be had in the bustling chowks (marketplaces). The downside comes in the form of hordes of rickshaw-wallahs, touts, unofficial guides and souvenir vendors, whose persistence can be infuriating at times.

Agra straddles a large bend along the holy Yamuna River. The fort and the Taj, 2km apart, both overlook the river on different parts of the bend. The main train and bus stations are a few kilometres southwest.

The golden age of the city began with the Mughals. It was known then as Akbarabād and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under the Badshahs Akbar, Jahāngīr and Shāh Jahān. Akbar made it the eponymous seat of one of his original twelve subahs (imperial top-level provinces), bordering (Old) Delhi, Awadh (Oudh), Allahabad, Malwa and Ajmer subahs. Shāh Jahān later shifted his capital to Shāhjahānabād in the year 1648.

Since Akbarabād was one of the most important cities in India under the Mughals, it witnessed a lot of building activity. Babar, the founder of the Mughal dynasty, laid out the first formal Persian garden on the banks of the river Yamuna. The garden is called the Arām Bāgh or the Garden of Relaxation. His grandson Akbar the Great raised the towering ramparts of the Great Red Fort, besides making Agra a centre for learning, arts, commerce, and religion. Akbar also built a new city on the outskirts of Akbarabād called Fatehpur Sikri. This city was built in the form of a Mughal military camp in stone.

Kos Minar #793 at 12 mile on Agra-Fatehpur Sikri Road section of National Highway 21 His son Jahāngīr had a love of flora and fauna and laid many gardens inside the Red Fort or Lāl Qil'a. Shāh Jahān, known for his keen interest in architecture, gave Akbarabād its most prized monument, the Taj Mahal. Built in loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the mausoleum was completed in 1653.

Shāh Jahān later shifted the capital to Delhi during his reign, but his son Aurangzeb moved the capital back to Akbarabād, usurping his father and imprisoning him in the Fort there.

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