Agra

Agra is a city on the banks of the Yamuna river in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Agra is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh, and the 24th most populous in India.

Agra is a major tourist destination because of its many Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Tāj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpūr Sikrī, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Agra is included on the Golden Triangle tourist circuit, along with Delhi and Jaipur; and the Uttar Pradesh Heritage Arc, tourist circuit of UP state, along Lucknow and Varanasi.

Agra is most famous for the magnificent Taj Mahal, meaning “Crown of the Palaces” which is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658), to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan, the builder. The tomb is the centerpiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.

The Taj Mahal is not the only thing to see in Agra – there is the magnificent Agra fort and the Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah a Mughal mausoleum often described as a “jewel box”, sometimes called the “Bacha Taj“, the tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah is often regarded as a draft of the Taj Mahal.

Along with the main building, the structure consists of numerous outbuildings and gardens. The tomb, built between 1622 and 1628 represents a transition between the first phase of monumental Mughal architecture – primarily built from red sandstone with marble decorations, as in Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi and Akbar’s tomb in Sikandra – to its second phase, based on white marble and pietra dura inlay, most elegantly realized in the Taj Mahal.

Agra Fort is about 2.5 km northwest of the more famous Taj Mahal but the huge and impressive fort can be more accurately described as a walled city and is the only fort in India where all early Mughal emperors lived.

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