Nobody visiting Agra will want to miss the most famous of its landmarks, the Taj Mahal. After that, it is only a short distance to Fort Agra, yet another marvel in architecture. Indeed, India is full of such wonders, a testament to the rich and ancient culture that inhabits this area of the world.
The Taj Mahal stands calm and breathtaking, on a raised marble platform, by the banks of the Yamuna, testifying to the timelessness of art and love. Its pure white marble shimmers silver in the soft moonlight, exudes a shell – pink glow at dawn, and at the close of the day, takes on the tawny, fiery hue of the majestic sun.
Shahjahan built the monument in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the ‘lady of the Taj’, who died giving birth to their 14th child. It has been called the most extravagant monument ever built for the sake of love. The construction of the Taj commenced in 1631, and was completed in 1653. Workers were gathered from all over the country and from Central Asia, and about 20,000 people were recruited to translate this wild dream into a reality.
The main architect was Isa Khan, who was brought all the way from Shiraz in Iran. After he was deposed and brutally imprisoned in the Agra Fort, by his son Aurangzeb, Shahjahan spent the rest of his life looking wistfully at his wife’s final resting place, just across the river. The Taj remains a symbol of eternal love where the heart – broken Shahjahan was subsequently buried, re-united finally with his beloved Mumtaz.
Among the other monuments that Agra takes pride in is the Agra Fort. Armed with massive double walls, punctuated by four gateways, the fort houses palaces, courts, mosques, baths, gardens and gracious pavilions lie within its premises. The palace is also notable for its smooth blending of Hindu and central Asian architectural styles.