Asia & Rest of the world
The City of Taj, Agra, is the perfect destination to view some of the specimens of the fine architecture of Mughal Era. The visitors could easily find the glimpses of Mughals in every structure. The Taj Mahal, World’s Heritage Site, is the epitome of eternal love and thus is praised for fine architecture. Apart from this, the Agra Red Fort is also worth visiting. The visitors could also take pleasure in exploring the colorful markets of Agra and buy unique artifacts as souvenirs. The city also experiences huge footfall from every part of the world due to the wonder of the world and proper connectivity with various regions of India via road, rail and airways.
Taj Mahal, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World due to the intricate architecture. It took 17 years, from 1631 AD to 1648 AD, for the completion of this Mughal masterpiece. Ustad Ahmad Lahauri was the architect of this mausoleum and thus, around 20,000 workmen were employed for the construction. Materials from various corners of India as well as Central Asia were sourced. To bring the raw materials from Central Asia, it required almost 1000 elephants to carry the materials to the site. From Fatehpur Sikri, red sandstone was sourced, crystal & jade from China, jasper from Punjab, sapphire and lapis lazuli from Sri Lanka, turquoise from Tibet, diamonds from Panna, and cornelian and coal from Arabia were used in the construction and decoration of the Taj Mahal. The main material of construction, the white marble, was quarried from Makrana, Rajasthan.
There is no clear evidence available for the derivation of the name ‘Taj Mahal’. Some sources call it rauza (tomb) of Mumtaz Mahal and also considered as the translation of ‘Crown of the Palace’. This credit of the construction of the marble monument goes to Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. He constructed this masterpiece in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Bano Begum), who took her last breath in AH 1040 (AD 1630). Soon after the completion of the Taj Mahal, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was house arrested by his son and was kept captive near the Agra Fort. After his death, Aurangzeb, his son, buried him next to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, in the mausoleum. Different sections of Taj Mahal had fallen into bad condition by the late 19th century.
During the revolt of 1857, the British soldiers defaced the Taj Mahal and took away the precious stones from its walls along with lapis lazuli. By the end of 19th century, remodeling of the Taj Mahal was brought into action by the British Viceroy Lord Curzon. The restoration project remodeled the lawns with British Style by 1908. Along with it, he also installed the large lamp in the inner chambers of the mausoleum.
The tomb of the mausoleum is the main source of attraction in the entire complex. The origin of this huge marble structure is inspired from the Persian style of architecture. The height of the marble tomb is equal to the length of the base, about 115 ft (35 meters). This tomb is positioned on a cylindrical "drum" which measures to the height of 23 ft (7 meters). The onion shaped tomb is decorated with the design of a lotus. Therefore, a perfect blend of Persian and Indian elements of decoration is witnessed in the monument. The exteriors of the monument reflect one of the finest specimens of Mughal Architecture in India. The decorations on the surface are proportionally refined as changes in the surface area. Stucco, paints, stone inlays as well as carvings are some of the decorative elements used in the exteriors of the monument.
Moreover, calligraphy abstract from Quran and vegetative motifs also add an amazing-cum-unique decorative element. Alternatively, the decoration of the interior chamber of the mausoleum is beyond comparison. The inlay work resembles to pietra dura but is a lapidary of semiprecious and precious gemstones. The inner chamber of the Taj Mahal is an octagon, with door on each face. However, the doors facing the garden area at the south of the complex are used by the visitors to witness the magnificent piece of Mughal architecture.
The magnificent appearance of the Agra Fort includes huge walls of almost 70 ft high turrets and gateways. The location of the fort is along the side of the river Yamuna and the semicircular structure extends to the length of 1.6 mi (2.5 km). Walls of red sandstone and various buildings inside the fort are the source of attraction. There are two gates namely the Delhi Gate and the Amar Singh Gate. The tourists are allowed to enter the fort through the Amar Singh Gate. Entering the great courtyard, one can find numerous pillared Hall of Public Audience (Diwan-i-Am), on the right side. Shah Jahan built the Diwan-i-Am in the year 1628. There are imperial Pavilions that include mosques, palaces and the Zenana Mina Bazaar. The intricate carvings on the buildings, made of marble, also reflect glory of the Mughal architecture. Rooms with hollow walls were created and to cool off the rooms, the hollow walls were filed with running water. The balconies also show splendid view of the Taj Mahal and the river Yamuna.
The fort is built according to the guidelines stated in ‘Shilp Shastra’, namely ‘Karmuka–Khadaga’ plan. The plan gave a semicircular structure to the fort along with parallel fortification along the river Yamuna. According to the ancient Indian Vastu Shahstra, the layout of the fort is described as ‘Karmuka’. This layout is considered very beneficial for a king as the fort was fortified with huge walls and moats in the surrounding. In every element of the fort, namely, Nagina Masjid, Mina Masjid, Macchi Bhavan, Khas Mahal, Shish Mahal, Shah Jahani Mahal and the Zenana Mina Bazaar, one can find an outstanding mix of Hindu and Islamic architecture. The Islamic adornment here includes unusual portraits of living creatures like elephant, dragons and birds, and Islamic calligraphy on surface.
Also known as Baby Taj, Itmad ud Daulah is a monument which deserves a must-visit from all. This beautiful marble tomb as built by Emperor Jahangir's queen, Nurjahan in the memory of her father Mirza Ghias Beg. The structure is completely build using white marble along with some semi-precious stones. Itmad ud Daulah is located on the banks of the Yamuna rives and it has a Persian touch to it.
Itmad ud Daulah is delicate in appearance which further enhances its appearance. One cannot miss the beautiful architecture of the structure. When paying a visit to this place, visitors can also visit Chini-ka-Rauza, Ram Bagh and Mehtab Bagh which are near to this place.
One of the most popular mosques in the country, Jama Masjid was built by Shah Jahan in 1648. Shah Jahan dedicated this building to his favorite daughter Jahanara Begum. The place has finely crafted panels of inlaid work which look similar to the work in Taj Mahal. Jama Masjid also has some paintings, carvings and glazed tiles which make this structure more beautiful. There are inscriptions on the walls of the mosque which praise Shah Jahan and his daughter Jahanara. The beauty of the mosque is such that it is compared with Baitul-Mamur which is known to be located in the fourth sky with ruby and pearl decorations.
The place lightens up more on Fridays when Muslim devotees come here and offer their weekly prayers. This brings about a calming atmosphere in the mosque.
An important piece of Mughal architecture, Tomb of Akbar the Great has the mortal remains of the greatest Mughal Emperor Akbar. The main tomb has five-storey which exhibit some really beautiful carvings, intricate calligraphy and ornamented work. The architecture and design of the tomb is enough to leave the visitors spellbound.
Around the tomb of Akbar, there is a garden which offers a soothing environment to the visitors. Visitors can have a good time here while having a look at peacocks, antelopes and monkeys. The tomb of Akbar the Great is another gem in the city of love, Agra. The architectural as well as natural beauty of the tomb makes it a worth visit place.
Those who wish to view the Taj Mahal with a difference; Mehtab Bagh is the place for them. Also known as the Moonlight garden, this garden complex is square in shape. The garden covers an area of 25 acres and is one of the most beautiful gardens of the country. A number of tourists visit here mainly for the fact that from the garden, they can enjoy an exquisite view of the Taj Mahal.
It is a must-visit for nature lovers and history buffs. This is because from the place they get to see and understand the greatness of the Mughal Empire. Along with having a look at the wide variety of flower species, visitors can also enjoy the cool breeze which keeps on flowing through the garden. The garden is the perfect combination of history and beauty.