Agra - The City Of Love...






      Agra a.k.a. Akbarabad is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, 363 kilometres (226 mi) west of state capital, Lucknow and 200 kilometres (124 mi) south from national capital New Delhi. With a population of 1,686,976 (2010 est.), it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most populous in India.

     Agra can also refer to the administrative district that has its headquarters in Agra city. The city finds mention in the epic Mahabharata where it was called Agreva, or 'the border of the forest'.Legend ascribes the founding of the city to Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king (circa 1475), whose fort, Badalgarh, stood on or near the site of the present Fort. However, the 11th century Persian poet Mas'ud Sa'd Salman writes of a desperate assault on the fortress of Agra, then held by the Shahi King Jayapala, by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. Sultan Sikandar Lodi was the first to move his capital from Delhi to Agra in the year 1506; he died in 1517 and his son Ibrahim Lodi remained in power there for nine more years, finally being defeated at the Battle of Panipat in 1526.

      It achieved fame as the capital of the Mughal emperors from 1526 to 1658 and remains a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Since Akbarabad 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 Aram Bagh 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.

     His son Jahangir had a love of gardens and flora and fauna and laid many gardens inside the Red Fort or Lal Qil'a. Shah Jahan, known for his keen interest in architecture, gave Akbarabad its most prized monument, the Taj Mahal. Built in loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the mausoleum was completed in 1653. Shah Jahan later shifted the capital to Delhi during his reign, but his son Aurangzeb moved the capital back to Akbarabad, usurping his father and imprisoning him in the Fort there. Akbarabad 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.

Transport

Agra Airport is about 12.5 km (8 mi) from city center
Agra is on the central train line between Delhi (Station Code: NDLS) and Mumbai (Bombay) (Station Code: CSTM) and between Delhi and Chennai (Station Code: MAS) and many trains connect Agra with all major Indian cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, etc. every day. Some east-bound trains from Delhi also travel via Agra, so direct connections to points in Eastern India (including Kolkata) (Calcutta) are also available. There are close to 20 trains to New Delhi and Gwalior Junction every day, and at least three or four to Bhopal, Indore, Nagpur, Mumbai and Chennai. There are three main railway stations in Agra:

1. Agra Cantt. Railway Station
2. Agra Fort Railway Station
3. Raja Ki Mandi

The luxury trains the Palace on Wheels, and the Royal Rajasthan On Wheels also stop at Agra on their eight day round trip of tourist destinations in Rajasthan and Agra. The Buddhist Special Train also visits Agra.

Idgah Bus Stand, Taj Depot, Ford depot and Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) are the major Bus Stands in Agra and is connected to most of the bigger cities in North India. From Delhi: NH2, a modern divided highway, connects the 200 km (124 mi) distance from Delhi to Agra. The drive is about 4 hours. The primary access to the highway is along Mathura Road in Delhi but, if coming from South Delhi or Delhi Airport, it is easier to take Aurobindo Marg (Mehrauli Road) and then work up to NH2 via Tughlakabad. From Jaipur: National Highway 11, a Four lane divided highway, connects Agra with Jaipur via the bird sanctuary town of Bharatpur. The distance of around 255 km (158 mi) can be covered in around 34 hours. From Gwalior A distance of around 120 km (75 mi), takes around 1.5 hours on the National highway 3, also known as the Agra Mumbai Highway. From Lucknow / Kanpur NH2, the divided modern highway, continues on to Kanpur (285 km, 5 hours) and from there to points East ending in Kolkata. From Kanpur, NH25 heads for the city of Lucknow (90 km, 2 hours).

Top 10 Places To Visit In Agra..

1. Taj Mahal
2. Agra Fort
3. Fatehpur Sikri
4. Itmad-Ud-Daulah
5. Sikandara
6. Swami Bagh Samadhi
7. Mankameshwar Temple
8. Dayal Bagh
9. Jama Masjid
10. Chini Ka Rauza