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Golden Triangle Destinations(Agra)

Agra is the third city on the Golden Triangle Destinations. Situated on the bank of river Yamuna, the region of Agra originally formed the part of the Surasena Empire. Legends state that Agra has its origin in the period of Mahabharata when it was called Agraban. Later, Badal Singh established the city in 1475 AD. Sikandar Lodhi also shifted his capital from Delhi to Agra. But the credit of giving Agra its present glory goes to Akbar and his successors Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Akbar founded his capital at Agra in1588 AD. Explore the Golden Triangle Destinations, Agra, to know more about the romance of the Mughals with the city and their passion for constructing buildings.

Taj Mahal is the major attraction of the Golden triangle destinations. Taj Mahal, considered as one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World and the most photographed monument in India, is the last resting place of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Situated on the bank of the River Yamuna in the city of Agra, Taj Mahal is the culmination of the Mughal architecture. Taj Mahal was built at the orders of Shah Jahan originally as the mausoleum for his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal. Considered as an eternal symbol of love, Taj Mahal is the outcome of one of the four promises extracted by Mumtaz from Shah Jahan while on her deathbed.

The stories of love between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz were very famous as they were childhood sweethearts. Mumtaz accompanied Shah Jahan on each of his campaigns. She died during the childbirth when they were on campaign to Burhanpur. The body of the queen was buried temporarily in the Zainabadi Garden at Burhanpur for six months and later shifted to Agra. 20,000 labors were employed for 22 years to complete the tomb from1631 AD to 1653 AD. The intensity of love between the Mughal King and his wife can be by just having a look at the grandiose monument with delicate ornamentation, symmetrical proportions and placid beauty.

The renowned architect Ustad Isa of Iran was the chief architect realized the promise of Shah Jahan to Mumtaz to build a tomb for her unrivalled in beauty and elegance in the entire world. Specialist artisans and consultants like calligraphers from Shiraz, garden designers from Kashmir, dome designers, inlay artists, stonecutters, sculptors and masons from Bukhara, Constantinople and Samarkand were recruited to construct the tomb. The final result was the pure white Taj Mahal made of white marble quarried from the mines of Makrana. The simplicity of the white was enhanced by the use of several precious and semi-precious stones including Bloodstone, Corals, Garnet, Mother-of-Pearl, Onyx, Rare Shells, Sapphire and Topaz for the intricate inlay work on the Taj.

The main building of Taj comprises of five main architectural including the entrance gate to the monument or the Darwaza, the garden or the Bageecha, the mosque or the Masjid on the left, the guesthouse or the Naqqar Khaana and the mausoleum or the Taj itself. One enters through the gateway, passes through the garden crisscrossed by channels of water and then reaches to the end of the complex where the Taj is flanked by the mosque and the guesthouse on the two sides. The tomb is placed over a massive platform guarded by four tapering minarets on the four corners. The graves of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are in the basement while their elaborately decorated cenotaphs are placed inside the octagonal chamber.

The other attraction of the Golden Triangle Destination is the Agra Fort. Agra Fort was built around the same time as the Humayun's Tomb in Delhi on the banks of the River Yamuna. Akbar initially planned to build a mud-brick fortress to serve the military purpose and started the construction work in 1565 AD, which was completed by 1571 AD. The additions of the new structures and renovations of the existing ones were done by Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Out of the 500 buildings within the fort, only a few survive now. Of importance are the Jahangiri Mahal, Jahangir's Palace; Zenana Palace, Palace for the royal ladies of the court; Diwan-I-Aam, Hall of Public Audience; Diwan-I-Khas, Hall of Private Audience; Khas Mahal, room with special provision for circulation of air; Angoori Bagh, Garden of Grape; Sheesh Mahal, Palace of Mirror; Hammam, Royal Bath and Mussaman Burj, Octagonal Tower.

Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daullah is the mausoleum of Mirza Ghiyas-ud-Din or Ghiyas Beg, Prime Minister during Jahangir's reign. He was awarded with the title 'Itmad-ud-Daullah', which means the 'Pillar of the State'. Noor Jahan, the chief queen of Jahangir and daughter of Gjiyas Beg constructed the tomb for her father in 1622 AD. Built in the shape of a jewel box, the tomb is in the middle of the garden with network of water channels running all over. The tomb is built of white marble with inlay work of precious and semi precious stones. Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daullah is also called as the 'Baby Taj' and is the predecessor of the Taj Mahal.

Akbar's Tomb at Sikandra is a unique example of Mughal architecture where a tomb is constructed without a dome. Akbar had started the work of the tomb during his lifetime but did not live to see it complete, as he died in 1605 Ad. The construction was then completed under the supervision of his son, Jahangir. Built of red sandstone, the five-storeyed tomb is placed in the middle of a garden and entered through a massive gateway flanked by minarets. The real grave of Akbar is placed in the basement while the imitation of the grave lies open in the sky.

Fatehpur Sikri also comprises of the Golden triangle Destination even though it is a little distance away from Agra. Akbar built the imperial city of Fatehpur Sikri in the vicinity of the shrine of Saint Salim Chisti in the village of Sikri short distance from Agra. Built from 1571 AD to 1584 AD, the city was abandoned soon after its completion due to acute shortage of water. The buildings within the fort include Diwan-I-Aam and Diwan-I-Khas, the Halls of Public and Private Audience; Anup Talao, Water Tank; Panch Mahal, Five-Tiered Palace; Palace of Turkish Sultana; Jodha Bai's Palace; Mariam's Palace; House of Birbal; Jami Masjid, Congregational Hall and Bulund Darwaza, Victory Gateway.


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