Agra is a medieval city situated on the banks of the river Yamuna.It is generally accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lodī, the Ruler of the Delhi Sultanate founded it in the year 1504. After the Sultan's death the city passed on to his son Sultan Ibrāhīm Lodhī. He ruled his Sultanate from Agra until he fell fighting to Bābar in the First battle of Panipat fought in 1526.

In the year 1556, the great Hindu warrior, Hemu Vikramaditya also known as Samrat Hem Chander Vikramaditya won Agra as the Prime Minister cum Chief of Army of Adil Shah of the Afghan Sūrī Dynasty. The commander of Humāyūn / Akbar's forces in Agra, Tardi Beg Khan was so scared of Hemu that he retreated from the city without a fight. This was Hemu's 21st continuous win since 1554, and he later went on to conquer Delhi, having his coronation at Purānā Qil'a in Delhi 0n 7th Oct. 1556 and re-established the Hindu Kingdom and the Vikramaditya Dynasty in North India.

The golden age of the city began with the Mughals. It was known then as Akbarabād and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under the Emperors Akbar, Jahāngīr and Shāh Jahān. Shāh Jahān later shifted his capital to Shāhjahānabād in the year 1649.

Taj Mahal.Since Akbarabād was one of the most important cities in India under the Mughals, it witnessed a lot of building activity. Babar, the founder of the Mughal dynasty laid out the first formal Persian garden on the banks of river Yamuna. The garden is called the Arām Bāgh or the Garden of Relaxation. His grandson Akbar raised the towering ramparts of the Great Red Fort, besides making Agra a center for learning, arts, commerce and religion. Akbar also built a new city on the outskirts of Akbarabād called Fatehpūr Sikrī. This city was built in the form of a Mughal military camp in stone.

His son Jahāngīr had a love of gardens and flora and fauna and laid many gardens inside the Red Fort or Lāl Qil'a. Shāh Jahān ,known for his keen interest in architecture, gave Akbarabād its most prized monument, The Tāj Mahal. Built in loving memory of his wife Mumtāz Mahal, the mausoleum was completed in 1653.

Shāh Jahān later shifted the capital to Delhi during his reign, but his son Aurangzeb moved the capital back to Akbarabād, usurping his father and imprisoning him in the Fort there. Akbarabād remained the capital of India during the rule of Aurangzeb until he shifted it to Aurangabad in the Deccan in 1653. After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the city came under the influence of Marathas and Jats and was called Agra, before falling into the hands of the British Raj in 1803.

Agra, Main Street, c.1858In 1835 when the Presidency of Agra was established by the British, the city became the seat of government, and just two year later it was the witness to the Agra famine of 1837–38. During the Indian rebellion of 1857 British rule across India was threatened, news of the rebellion had reached Agra on 11 May and on 30 May two companies of native infantry, the 44th and 67th regiments, rebelled and marched to Delhi. The next morning native Indian troops in Agra were forced to disarm, on 15 June Gwalior (which lies south of Agra) rebelled. By 3 July the British were forced to withdraw into the fort. Two days later a small British force at Sucheta were defeated and forced to withdraw, this lead to a mob sacking the city. However, the rebels moved onto Delhi which allowed the British to restore order by 8 July. Delhi fell to the British in September, the following month rebels who had fled Delhi along with rebels from Central India marched on Agra - but were defeated. After this British rule was again secured over the city until the independence of India in 1947.

Agra is the birth place of the religion known as Dīn-i Ilāhī, which flourished during the reign of Akbar and also of the Radhaswami Faith, which has around two million followers worldwide.   

About Agra

One of India's most famous cities, Agra is home to the breathtaking white-marble Taj Mahal, a truly magnificent Mughal riverside mausoleum and World Heritage Site. Agra lies in the state of Uttar Pradesh, in North India, and this region is home to no less than three designated World Heritage Sites, also including the neighbouring ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri and the red-sandstone Agra Fort.

As well as being a major Indian tourist destination, Agra is also a spreading industrial city and stands just over 200 km / 124 miles to the south of Delhi, being within easy reach by train.

Agra was established as the Mughal capital in 1526 and is known for its chaotic and vibrant marketplace (chowk), endless auto rickshaw touts, plentiful souvenir vendors, historic temples and many grand, ancient monuments and tombs.

About Agra : The eternally romantic city, Agra is a must-visit destination for every traveller. It was ruled by the Mughals for several decades, who left their mark behind in the form of buildings and monuments. Among all those left behind, the Taj Mahal is undoubtedly the most beautiful structure in Agra. It is made entirely in white marble and is carved to perfection, fitted with semi-precious stones. Other than the Taj Mahal, Agra is also home to the World Heritage Agra Fort, which is built in red sandstone and houses with several interesting palaces and temples. Also visit the Itmad-ud-Daula, a tomb built by Nur Jahan for her father, which was a disctinctive move from the use of sandstone to marble. Take a quick tour of the now-deserted erstwhile Mughal capital of Fatehpur Sikri, located at a short drive away from Agra. It has within itself a number of magnificent buildings. The Ram Bagh is the oldest garden in Agra and is marked by terraced waterfalls and beautiful pathways. Since Agra is known as a centre for handicrafts, pick up some marble inlay works and replicas of Taj Mahal when shopping in Agra.

Agra Culture

Ask anyone about a popular Indian tourist destination, the most likely answer you may expect is Agra. Agra is a world renowned tourist destination. Each year, millions of tourists from different parts of India as well as tourists from far-off foreign countries come to Agra for a vacation. The rich culture of Agra is very interesting and makes the city all the more fun to explore.

Like most of the Indian sub-continent, Agra is also home to people who have diverse religious beliefs and practices. Some of the most prominent religions practiced by the residents of Agra are Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, and Buddhism. These varied religious practices have enriched the city with different cultural and traditional virtue. The historical richness of Agra still lingers in the minds of the local residents and they are rather proud of that.

The culture of Agra was largely influenced by the Mughals, who gifted the city with fine specimens of wonderful buildings and architectures. No wonder that Agra is home to some of the most highly acclaimed architectures around the world. The truly majestic character of the constructions of the yesteryears adds a touch of glamour to the city.

The dress pattern of the residents of Agra has evolved to adopt the European style of dressing. Men usually wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers. Women have also adopted the western style, but every now and then they enjoy wearing the traditional salwar kameez or the wonderful sarees.

One of the important aspects of the culture of Agra is the variety of colorful festivals. During the month of February, the city witnesses the Taj Mahotsav. Held in Shilpgram that is quite close to the Taj Mahal, the ten-day long festival hosts an exhibition of the crafts, arts, classical song and dance performances. Camel and elephant rides are worth an experience. Id, the festival of the Islamic is celebrated with great pomp. The main languages in Agra are Hindi and Urdu. The city is famous for Mughlai dishes and typical Agra delicacies.

History of Agra

For anyone with a deep interest in history, a summary of Agra's history would indeed provide a wealth of information. Situated on the banks of river Yamuna between Mathura and Surajpur, Agra was originally a part of the Surasena Empire with Mathura as its capital. But it came into limelight when Sikander Lodhi, the Sultan of Delhi made it his capital in the 16th century. After the advent of the Mughals, there was a shift in the power play and Agra became the most important seat of Mughal power in India between the 16th and 17th centuries. 

Since Agra was one of the most important cities under the Mughals, it witnessed some big scale renovation and development from time to time. Babar, the founder of the Mughal dynasty laid out the first formal Persian garden on the banks of river Yamuna. His grandson Akbar raised the towering ramparts of the Great Red Fort besides making Agra a center for learning arts and commerce. His son Jehangir built rose-red palaces, courts and gardens inside the red fort, and emperor Shah Jahan, known for his great love for architecture gave Agra its most prized monument, the magnificent Taj Mahal. Built in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the mausoleum took 20 years to finish with the combined efforts of 20,000 laborers, architects and engineers. 

Shah Jahan had shifted the capital to Delhi during his reign, but Aurangzeb shifted it back to Agra and imprisoned his father in the Agra Fort. Agra remained capital of India during the rule of Aurangzeb till his death. After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the city came under the Marathas and Jats before falling into the hands of the British in 1803. 

Agra came under different rulers and dynasties from time to time, but it was the Mughal rulers who left an indelible mark on this historic city. Anywhere you go, the city's Mughal heritage can easily be discerned, something that Agra has managed to retain in spite of the ravages of time and change.