After a splendid week in Delhi, we moved on to our last destination........ Agra.
Agra is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh,. It is 200 kilometres south of the national capital New Delhi.
It is a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Tāj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpūr Sikrī, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Taj Mahal "crown of palaces", is a white marble mausoleum, It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar component of the Taj Mahal, it is actually an integrated complex of structures. The construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen.
Taj Mahal is regarded by many as the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles.
Agra Fort, is a monument, located in Agra. It is about 2.5 km northwest of its more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. The fort can be more accurately described as a walled city. Two of the fort's gates are notable: the "Delhi Gate" and the "Lahore Gate." The construction is splendid and skillful craftsmanship is everywhere. The rooms, the halls, the passages and the gardens. Very Majestic!
Fatehpur Sikri is a city in Agra district. The city was founded in 1569 by the Mughal emperor Akbar, and served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585. After his military victories over Chittor and Ranthambore, Mughal emperor Akbar decided to shift his capital from Agra to a new location 37 km on the Sikri ridge, to honor the Sufi saint Salim Chishti. Here he commenced the construction of a planned walled city which took the next fifteen years in planning and construction of a series royal palaces, harem, courts, a mosque, private quarters and other utility buildings. He named the city, Fatehabad, with Fateh, a word of Arabic origin in Persian, meaning "victory." it was later called Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri is one of the best preserved collections of Mughal architecture in India.
Akbar planned the complex on Persian principles. But the influences of his adopted land came through in the typically Indian embellishments. The easy availability of sandstone in the neighbouring areas of Fatehpur Sikri, also meant that all the buildings here were made of the red stone.
After visiting such marvelous and majestic places, it was now time to pack up and head back home. This trip taught me a valuable lesson, that, friendship is without boundaries. We were treated very specially by our hosts in all the cities we visited and stayed. They not only opened the doors of their homes to us but they greeted us with open arms and took really good care of us, for which I will always be very thankful to Aunty Sudha and all her relatives in India.