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 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.
Many tourists choose to visit Agra on a whistle-stop day trip from Delhi. This is a shame. There is much more of interest here than can be seen in that time. In fact, you can enjoy several days’ sightseeing with side trips to the superb ruined city of Fatehpur Sikri and the Hindu pilgrimage centre of Mathura.
Agra sits on a large bend in 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 labourers and artisans who toiled on the Taj set up home immediately south of the mausoleum, creating the congested network of alleys known as Taj Ganj, now a popular area for budget travellers.
THE MAGICAL TAJ MAHAL
Standing majestically on the banks of River Yamuna, the Taj Mahal is synonymous to love and romance. The name “Taj Mahal” was derived from the name of Shah Jahan’s wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and means “Crown Palace”. The purity of the white marble, the exquisite ornamentation, precious gemstones used and its picturesque location, all make a visit to the Taj Mahal gain a place amongst the most sought-after tours in the world. However, until you know the love story behind the construction of the Taj Mahal, the beauty of the same would not enliven in your heart and mind and instead would come up as just another beautiful building/monument. It is the love behind this outstanding monument that has given a life to this monument. Come and explore the visceral charisma that it emanates
At the brink of dawn when the first rays of the sun hits the dome of this epic monument, it radiates like a heavenly abode, cloaked in bright golden. And then at dusk, basking in the glory of moon, it shines like a perfectly carved diamond; appearing as if straight owwut of some magical tale, leaving the viewers awestruck by its sense of grandeur. Nothing short of an architectural marvel, no wonder it stands proud at being one of the Seven Wonders of the World. And the rich beauty of this visual spectacle turns visceral when one hears the story behind it. The story of Taj Mahal!
ARCHITECTURE IN ITS OWN ART -AGRA FORT
The fort is like a little city protected within its walls, and it’s located only about a mile and a half from the world famous Taj Mahal. The fort is a collection of protective walls, palaces, water wells, a mosque, towers and more. It was supposedly first occupied by Hindu Sikarwar Kings, but there is little written history until a Sultan named Sikandar Lodi moved from Dehli to rule the country from the Fort between 1488 – 1517 AD. Agra was the second capital of India for some time and the Agra Fort was the capital building. Dehli was and remains the primary capital of India. Lodi passed away in 1517 and his son Ibrahim Lodi ruled for nine years, but lost power when he died in the historic first Battle of Panipat in the state ofHaryana.
During his rule, he built several palaces, drinking wells and a mosque. Following his death in battle, Mughals were able to seize the fort and take its great treasure, which included a famous diamond called Koh-i-Noor. Subsequent Afghan rulers; Babur, Humayun, Bilgram and Sher Shah held power here until the Mughals defeated the Afghans in the second battle of Panipat in 1556.