Agra is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Agra is included on the Golden Triangle tourist circuit, along with Delhi and Jaipur. The city was first mentioned in the epic Mahabharata, where it was called Agrevaṇa (derived from Sanskrit meaning "the border of the forest"). Legend ascribes the founding of the city to Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king, whose fort, Badalgarh, stood on or near the site of the present fort.
Though Agra's history is largely recognised with Mughal Empire, the place was established much before it and has linkages since Mahabharat period and Mahirshi Angira in 1000 BC. It is generally accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lodī, the Ruler of the Delhi Sultanate founded Agra in the year 1504. After the Sultan's death the city passed on to his son Sultan Ibrāhīm Lodī. He ruled his Sultanate from Agra until he fell fighting to Bābar in the First battle of Panipat fought in 1526.
The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous buildings in the world, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan's favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, and one of the three World Heritage Sites in Agra. Agra is commonly identified as the "City of Taj".
Agra Fort (sometimes called the Red Fort), was commissioned by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1565, and is another of Agra's World Heritage Sites. A stone tablet at the gate of the Fort states that it had been built before 1000 but was later renovated by Akbar. The red sandstone fort was converted into a palace during Shah Jahan's time, and reworked extensively with marble and pietra dura inlay. Notable buildings in the fort include the Pearl Mosque or Moti Masjid, the Diwan-e-'Am and Diwan-e-Khas (halls of public and private audience), Jahangir's Palace, Khas Mahal, Shsh Mahal (mirrored palace), and the Musamman Burj.
The Mughal Emperor Akbar built Fatehpur Sikri about 35 km (22 mi) from Agra, and moved his capital there. Later abandoned, the site displays a number of buildings of significant historical importance. A World Heritage Site, it is often visited by tourists. The name of the place came about after the Mughal Emperor Babar defeated Raṇa Sanga in a battle at a place called Sikri (about 40 km (25 mi) from Agra). Then the Mughal Emperor Akbar wanted to make Fatehpur Sikri his headquarters, so he built a majestic fort due to shortage of water, however, he had to ultimately move his headquarters to Agra Fort.
Buland Darwaza or 'the lofty gateway' was built by the great Mughal emperor, Akbar in 1601 CE. at Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar built the Buland Darwaza to commemorate his victory over Gujarat. The Buland Darwāza is approached by 52 steps. The Buland Darwaza is 53.63 m high and 35 meters wide. it is made of red and buff sandstone, decorated by carving and black and white marble inlays. An inscription on the central face of the Buland Darwāza demonstrates Akbar's religious broadmindedness, it is a message from Jesus advising his followers not to consider this world as their permanent home.
Sikandra, the last resting place of the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great, is on the Delhi-Agra Highway, only 13 kilometres from the Agra Fort. Akbar's tomb reflects the completeness of his personality. The vast, beautifully carved, red-ochre sandstone tomb with deers, rabbits and langurs is set amidst a lush garden. Akbar himself planned his own tomb and selected a suitable site for it. To construct a tomb in one's lifetime was a Turkic custom which the Mughals followed religiously. Akbar's son Jahāngir completed construction of this pyramidal tomb in 1613.
The Mankameshwar Temple is one of four ancient temples dedicated to Lord Shiva located on the four corners of Agra City. It is located near the Jama Masjid and is about 2.5 kilometres from the Taj Mahal and less than 1 km from Agra Fort. Being located in the old city, the temple is surrounded by markets, many of which date back to the Mughal Era.
The oldest Mughal garden in India, the Ram Bagh was built by the Emperor Bābar in 1528 on the bank of the Yamuna. It lies about 2.34 km north of the Taj Mahal. The pavilions in this garden are designed so that the wind from the Yamuna, combined with the greenery, keeps them cool even during the peak of summer. The original name of the gardens was Aram Bagh, or 'Garden of Relaxation', and this was where the Mughal emperor Bābar used to spend his leisure time and where he eventually died
206 km from Delhi, 125 km from Gwalior.
October to March.