Agra is situated on a bend in the River Yamuna, and this defensive strength has proven definitive in its history. The city’s past goes back as far as 2,500 years, when the area was part of Ashoka’s Buddhist empire. It was a stronghold of the last Hindu kings of the Lodi Dynasty in the 16th century, but was subsequently taken as capital by the Moghul rulers, Babur, Humayun and Akbar. The city is famous for the Taj Mahal. The British recognised the strategic importance of Agra and established a garrison here on the edge of the plains of Panipat. Agra grew as a centre for heavy industry following partition in 1947, becoming famous for its chemical industry, but tourism is now the major source of income.
I don’t think this needs much explanation!
Fun fact – The Lady Diana bench (where EVERYONE wants their picture taken) is not at all busy. A nearby bench is very crowded. The Princess had her picture taken at a distance, with a pond in between the photographer and the bench. However, at the time of her visit the pond was drained and this has caused the confusion!
The Red Fort is where Shah Jahan, spent the last years of his life imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb. It was built in the late 1560s by their predecessor, Akbar, with later embellishments by Jehangir, his son, and Shah Jahan, his grandson. The fort is huge, with 20 metre high walls and a two and a half kilometre circumference. Thousands of people, court officials, clerks, servants and aristocracy alike, were housed there and they all had to be fed, watered and entertained. Even the ladies of the court had their jewellers and cosmetics merchants brought to them.
Baby Taj – a mausoleum for the father of the wife of Jahangir,
We also visited Metah Bagh, which is a pretty garden on the other side of the river to the Taj Mahal which has spectacular views of the mausoleum at sunset.
And Chini Ka Rauza, the tomb of a scholar and poet who was the prime minister of the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan, which has some Chinese style glazed tile remains.
We popped into Fatehpur Sikri on the way to Jaipur. It was founded in 1569 by Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great and served as capital of his empire until only 1585, when it was abandoned due to the exhaustion of the spring-fed lake that supplied the city with water.