Agra is a city situated on the river Yamuna. Largely known for its Mughal rule (1526-1658), Agra finds mention in the great Indian epic Mahabharat where it is called Agrevana or 'the border of the forest'.
Whatever Agra is today, it is because of the Mogul dynasty. Agra is a city created by its kings.
From Babur to Shah Jahan, Agra luxuriated in its splendour. After Shah Jahan, as Aurangzeb, his son shifted his focus away from Agra, Agra started sliding down.
Agra is yet to regain its high esteem that it was witness to prior to the abandonment by the moguls. Agra is the city where you can still get a whiff or a sniff of the city's glorious past. Just walk around the city.
The narrow lanes and the Serpentine bazaars have hidden within themselves many excellent specimens of the Mogul architecture. The architectural creativity that was unleashed when the Mughals married their enthusiasm for building with their fine aesthetic taste is easy to see in these gems of exquisite buildings that lie scattered around in Agra.
Completed in 1653, nearly 22,000 workers were employed in the construction and took about 20 years to complete. Interesting to note that minor leaks were observed in the Taj Mahal just after construction and these were pointed out by Aurangzeb, the son of Shah Jahan. The repair work was quickly and effectively carried out.
Aurangzeb later on imprisoned his father at Agra Fort in a palace coup. Shah Jahan spent his last part of life in luxurious house arrest at Agra Fort, from where he with fondness and yearning used to gaze upon the Taj Mahal, where his beloved Mumtaz Mahal was and is buried.
The fort was commissioned by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1565, and is another of Agra's World Heritage Sites.
It is a redstone fort was converted into palace by Shah Jehan. Notable buildings inside fort are Pearl Mosque or Moti Masjid, the Diwan-e-aam and Diwan-e-Khas (halls of public and private audience), Jahangir's Palace, Khas Mahal, Shish Mahal (mirrored palace), and the Musamman Burj.
The forbidding exteriors of this fort conceal an inner paradise. This is the fort from where Chhatrapati Shivaji escaped.
It houses the shrine of the sufi saint Saleem Chisti. Akbar was the grandfather of Shah Jahan who built Taj Mahal.
In the guidebooks it is also referred to as the ghost city. An English merchant Ralph Fitch records in 1584 that the road between Agra and Fatehpur Sikri was so full of people that it looked like a market of the town. It was so populous then itself.
Ghiyas Beg was appointed as the revenue Minister by Jehangir, the Mughal emperor. He was a Persian migrant to Agra, and Nur Jahan, wife of Jehangir, was born to him on his way to India.Ghiyas Beg easily found a job in Akbar's service at Fatehpur Sikri.
Quickly he rose to be the incharge of the Royal household at Fatehpur Sikri. Records about him say that he was very able, very erudite, very polished as well as highly generous and totally corrupt.
It is said that he was both fearless and uncompromising in the matters of corruption. This mausoleum is often referred to as the baby Taj. It was built by his daughter Nur Jahan, the Empress of India.
This mausoleum serves as a resting place for many of Nur Jahan's relatives as well, including her mother.