Taj Mahal   ||   Red Fort   ||   Chini Ka Roza   ||   Itmad-Ud-Daula   ||   Mehtab Bagh 

 
                                                                                      

The most beautiful building in the world. In 1631 the emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife Mumtaz, who died in childbirth. The white marble mausoleum at Agra has become the monument of a man's love for a woman.

Shah Jahan came to power in 1622 when he seized the throne from his father, while murdering his brothers to ensure his claim to rule. He was known as an extravagant and cruel leader. But he redeemed himself by his generosity to his friends and the poor, by his passion in adorning India with some of its most beautiful architecture, and by his devotion to his wife Mumtaz Mahal - "Ornament of the Palace." He had married her when he was 21, when he already had two children by an earlier consort. Mumtaz gave her husband 14 children in eighteen years, and died at the age of 39 during the birth of the final child. Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a monument to her memory and her fertility, but then relapsed into a life of scandalous behavior. This tomb was only one of hundreds of beautiful buildings that Shah Jahan erected, mostly at Agra and in the new Dehli that came into being under his planning.

Many architects have rated it as the most perfect of all buildings standing on earth. Three artists designed it: a Persian, an Italian, and a Frenchman. But the design is completely Mohammedan. Even the skilled artisans who built it were brought in from Baghdad, Constantinople, and other centers of the Muslim faith. For 22 years more than 20,000 workmen were forced to build the Taj. The Maharaja of Jaipur sent the marble as a gift to Shah Jahan. The building and its surroundings cost more than $200,000,000 in todays currency.

Passing through a high wall, one comes suddently upon the Taj - raised upon a marble platform, and framed on either side by handsome mosques and stately minarets. In the foreground spacious gardens enclose a pool in whose waters the inverted palace becomes a quivering dream. Every portion of the structure is of white marble, precious metals, or costly stones. The building is a complex figure of twelve sides, four of which are portals. A slender minaret rises at each corner, and the roof is a massive spired dome. The main entrance, once guarded with solid silver gates, is a maze of marble embroidery; inlaid in the wall in jeweled script are qotations from the Koran, one of which invites the "pure in heart" to enter "the gardens of Paradise."
 

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Agra is not only about Shah Jahan and the beautiful mausoleum-Taj Mahal - that he built in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. In fact Agra is like a chapter in Mughal history that needs to be enjoyed lesson by lesson. If Taj Mahal is the most captivating lesson that every body wants to read and enjoy, it is eventually the Agra Fort that makes an informative and interesting read. Enjoy learning more about Mughal history on tours to Agra with Taj Mahal Agra.

Interestingly, Agra Fort has a history that spans two generations of the Mughal emperors. Started during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar (1556-1605), the construction work on the Agra Fort continued till the reign of his grand son Shah Jahan (1627-58). Though started by Akbar in 1565, it was Shah Jahan, who constructed most of the buildings inside the fort.

Situated on the bank of river Yamuna, the Agra Fort today, stands as a citadel of the past that has witnessed centuries slip by. Built in red stone, the Agra fort stretches almost two kilometres on the bank of the Yamuna. A huge wall that stands 69 ft in height encircles the crescent shaped fort. With only two main gates built to enter the fort, the impregnable stature of the fort becomes amply clear. The two gates are named the Delhi gate and the Amar Singh Gate.

Once inside the Agra Fort, one comes across a number of mosques and palaces, most of them are built in white marble and red stone during the rein of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. At one point of time in the 16th century, the fort used to house a small city.
 

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}Chini-ka-Rauza is considered a milestone in Indo-Persian architecture, as it is the very first building in India that has been exclusively decorated by the glazed tile works. The decoration is prominent on façade and exteriors. Chini-ka-Rauza is actually a small mausoleum that overlooks the River Yamuna. The tomb is a fine architectural example of pure and undiluted Persian architecture.

This is a tomb to Mir Afzal Khan, a senior Wazir or minister in the court of Shah Jahan. Afzal Khan was actually a resident of Shiraz in the then Persia who migrated to India on the invitation of Shah Jahan. He was actually a poet-scholar who later rose to the post of Wazir-e-Ala i.e. Prime Minister in the reign of Shah Jahan. The man himself constructed Chini-ka-Rauza. The name is derived from two Persian words Chini Mitti and Rauza that means glazed tiles and tomb respectively.

Built in 1635, Chini-ka-Rauza is situated just a Kilometer North to the famous Itmad-ud-Daula on the same side of Yamuna but is in dire straits due to negligence. Though it does not match the charm of Itmad-ud-daula, its importance as being the only pure Persian architecture in India, makes it worth preserving.

Parts of the walls are still covered with the colored enamel tiles that once enhanced the whole of the exterior and gave the tomb its name, while traces of paintings and Islamic calligraphy can still be made out on the high domed ceiling. On the top of the chamber are inscribed some Quranic verses. Although it is in a dilapidated condition, but still its craftsmanship is worth seeing.
 

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Itmad- Ud - Daula, known as the "Baby Taj", it is the first tomb in India built entirely in white marble. It was built in 1628 by Nurjahan, wife of Emperor Jahangir, for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg, an Imperial Officer who had received the title of Itmad-ud-Daula (Pillar of Government). The mausoleum rests in a walled garden close to the Yamuna river, approximately one and a half kilometers upstream of the Taj Mahal.

Itmad-ud-Daulah's tomb is a highly ornate edifice, which is looked upon as an imminent precursor of the Taj Mahal as far as elaborate carvings and inlay work are concerned. The tomb marks a significant departure from the tombs of the Mughal dynasty built before its construction.

Itmad-ud-Daulah was buried in a tomb that resembles a jewel box and set in a garden. This tranquil, small, garden located on the banks of the Yamuna was to inspire the construction of the Taj Mahal in the later years. For the general information to tourists planning their vacations in Agra, the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah is the first tomb in India built entirely in white marble. The tomb is also justly famous for the glorious pietra dura (stone inlay) decoration depicting cypresses, wine glasses, and an amazing variety of geometrical arabesque. The jali screens set in arched recesses are splendid. Four small minarets rise at the four corners of the small tomb structure. The whole structure gives the impression of an enlarged precious object. Due to the profusion of intricate work done on marble and the beautiful marble screen-work, the tomb easily qualifies as a veritable forerunner of the famous Taj Mahal. The tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah in Agra is a must-visit for tourists on vacations in Agra.
 

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350 years ago, when the Taj was built on the Yamuna's south bank, a moonlight garden called Mehtab Bagh was also laid just across the river. It was laid alongside the northern waterfront. The place was once an oasis with fragrant flowers, shaded pavilions, fountain jets and reflecting pools but it ceased to exist in the due course of history. Slowly, the site became barren.

This 25-acre plot has now turned in to an epicenter for the apex court-ordered project to establish protective greenways around the Taj. As the land is reclaimed, historians and geographers from around the world are jostling to learn about the magnificent garden that once existed near this oasis. A breakthrough technology inspired from Iran has been applied to bloom the Mehtab Bagh once again.

This interest in Mehtab Bagh has developed due to the increasing concern for the Taj and its grounds, which are threatened by urban sprawl, too many tourists, and air pollution that eats away at the shrine's marble exterior. The lush gardens that once lined the riverbanks on either side of the Taj may be reincarnated in a scheme to shield it from further depredations. Conservationists maintain that a buffer zone of greenery would keep development at bay and help remedy local air, noise, and water pollution. Much of the land for the greenbelt had already been acquired through an earlier initiative to establish a 340-acre national park around the Taj.
 

 
 
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