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AGRA SIGHTSEEING

 Taj mahal
Described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love, it was constructed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his queen Mumtaz Mahal, made out of white marble took 22 years to complete (1630-1652 AD). Ustad Ahamad Lahori, a Persian Architect, is said to be the main designer and planner for this magnificent memorial. On full moon nights, the glory of the Taj is at its best. Over the centuries, the Taj has attracted more visitors than perhaps any other Monuments in the country, and it is all too easy resort to conventional superlatives when describing it. What makes the Taj Unique is its perfect proportions, distinct femininity, medium of construction and ornamentation. Its marble exterior reflects rose and golden tints at sunrise and sunset, while it is dazzling white during the day and glowes pearl-like in the moonlight and during the monsoon.

Standing on a high plinth, the Taj Mahal is visible for miles around and forms a backdrop to mustard fields and mud-walled villages. It can be seen from guestrooms at some of Agra's hotels, as well as from the landscaped gardens to the west of the complex.
 
 Itmad-ud-daulah's tomb
This tomb belongs to the father of Nur Jahan, Ghias-ud-Din Beg. He was the Wajir or the Chief Minister of Emperor Jehangir. This white marble tomb was built by Nur Jahan between 1622 and 1628. The tomb may not be as mammoth as the Taj but the inlay designs and carvings are no less than Taj if not more. The delicate marble latticework in the passages allows the light to enter the interiors. A similar tomb was built by Nur Jahan for Jehangir in Lahore. This tomb was the first complete marble Moghul structure.
 
 Agra fort
Construction of the massive red sandstone Agra Fort on the bank of the Yamuna River was begun by Emperor Akbar in 1565, though additions were made up until the rule of his grandson, Shah Jahan. In Akbar's time the fort was principally a military structure, but during Shah Jaha regin it had partially become Palace. It is an imposing strcture with walls of red sandstone almost three kilometers long. Entered through the Amar Singh Gate, the eastern part of the fort contain palace, audience hall and mosques built by three emperors.

The fort presents a good sampling of their favoured architectural styles. Akbar drew on Islamic and Hindu traditions and the result is eclectic. By Shah Jahan's time the style had become so homogenized that it is impossible to seprate the Hindu and Muslim strands. The Diwan-i-Am (public audience hall), the beautiful Diwan-i-Khas (private audience hall) and the magnificent Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) were also added by Shah Jahan.
 
 Jahangir mahal
The biggest private residence in the Fort is the Jahangir Mahal, the Palace of Emperor Jahangir. It is an excellent blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture. The palace has a hall which is called Jodhabai's dressing Room. Jodhabai was Jahangir's Hindu mother. Its desigen and layout is essentially Hindu. Later the palace was used by Jahangir's Dressing Room.

Jodhabai was Jahangir's Hindu mother. Its design and layout is essentially Hindu. Later the palace was used by Jahangir's queen Noorjahan,the Light of the World. Jahangir was very found of wine as well as his queen whom he adored even more. The love of wine interfered in the day do day running of the Government.To help him out in administering imperial justice, Noorjahan sat with her husband to advise him in taking decisions. She was an iron lady and never tolerated opposition.Those who came in her way ended mysteriously in the yamuna river.
 
 Chisti's tomb
The Gateway buildings leads to the Friday mosque or the Jami Masjid. It is believed to be a copy of the main mosque at Meca. Nearby is the small white marble tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti. It is ornamented with latticed screens and serpentine brackets. Shahjahan added exquiatie pieta dura work later as a mark of respect for the saint. The tomb was built over the exact spot where the holy man sat in meditation during his lifetime. Even, today, childess couples come to the tomb to seek the blessings of Sheikh Salim Chisti.
 
 Sikandra
Six miles north of Agra, is a glorious introduction to the city of Mughal wonders, Sikandra. The site of Akbar's mausoleum, Sikandra was begun by Akbar and completed by his son Jehangir in 1613 AD. It reflects the fusion of Hindu and Muslim art and architecture which characterised the era. The tomb is situated in the centre of a large garden and four identical red sandstone gates lead to the tomb complex. The building, with three-storey minarets at each corner, is built of red sandstone with white marble polygonal patterns inlaid. Sikandra is named after Sikandra Lodi, the Delhi ruler who was in power from 1488 to 1517.
 
 Fathepur sikri
This magnificent fortifield ghost city was the capital of the Mughal emperor Akbar between 1571 and 1585. The downfall of this once magnificent capital of the Mughals started with the rise of the Jats when Emperor Aurangazeb left this place never to return again. The credit for preserving the ancient monuments situated here goes to Lord Curzon. Since then , these protected monuments and the environs of the city have been well maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The city is rectangular in shape with nine huge gates - Delhi Darwaza, Lal Darwaza, Agra Gate, Suraj and Chandra Darwaza, Tehra Gate and Ajmeri Darwaza.
 
 The buland darwaja
The Buland Darwaja or the gate of victory, was built by Akbar in 1601 in commemoration of his victory over Khandesh and Ahmednagar in Southern India. Marble and sanstone have been freely used in the construction of this structure. Various other buildings situated here are all worth a visit not only for their historical importance, but also for the fine architectural work of the Mughal period.
 
 Palace of jodha bai
North-east of the mosque is the ticket office and entrance to the old city. The first building inside the gate is a palace, commonly but wrongly ascribed to Jodha Bai, Jehangir's Hindu mother and daughter of the maharaja of Amber. The architecture is a blend of style with Hindu columns and Muslim cupols. The Hawa Mahal (Palace of winds) is a projecting room whose walls are made entirely of stone lattice work.
 
 Panch mahal
Panch Mahal, a five storey structure is an architectural marvel. It was Akbar's personal citadel for pleasure and relaxation. Each storey is pillared and is smaller than the other. The buildings resembles a Buddhist temple. It tapers from the ground floor with 84 columns to its domed top supported by only four columns.
 
 
 
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