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Agra Travel Guide
Agra, or the city of the Taj, as it is known all over the world, forms the first destination on the itinerary of most travelers coming into India. Forming part of the famous 'Golden Triangle' (Delhi-Jaipur-Agra), it is placed on the western bank of the Yamuna. The magnificent Taj Mahal which is the pride of this city is set around a Charbagh or 'four garden' plan, which is split by watercourses - a reflection of the Persian style.
Agra finds mention in the Mahabharata as Agraban. This city of the Taj ,was established in 1475, by Badal Singh, but came into its own when Sikander Lodi, chose it as his capital ,but was eventually defeated by Babur, who laid the foundation of the Mughal empire. Agra reached its zenith during the reign of the Mughal Empire, to become the center of art, culture, commerce and learning. By mid 16th and the earlier 17th century, Agra witnessed a frenzied building activity purely in the contemporary Mughal style, and it was during this time, when the symbol of love - TheTaj Mahal was built.
Tourist Places :
The Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal is one of the wonders of the world and the epitome of love, beauty and sacrifice. Built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his queen, Mumtaz Mahal, its construction is believed to have taken 22 years to complete with over 20,000 craftsmen working round the clock. Even as the world is caught in the skirmishes of War and peace, Nuclear and Non-Nuclear; Taj has stood as the epitome of love. One of the most visited and most photographed places in the world, this extravagant monument of love is the culmination point of Indo-Persian architecture.
Situated opposite the Taj Mahal on the other side of the River Yamuna, Itmad-ud-Duala houses a magnificent mausoleum of Ghias Beg, father of Noor Jehan and the Chief Minister of Emperor Jehangir. This white marble tomb and the first complete marble Moghul structure may not be as mammoth as the Taj but the inlay designs and carvings are no less than Taj if not more. The delicate marble latticework in the passages allows the light to enter the interiors. Nur Jahan built a similar tomb for Jehangir in Lahore.
Dayal Bagh is the birthplace of the Radhaswami sect, which was founded by a banker of Agra, Swami Shiv Dayal, in 1861. It is a place of pilgrimage for members of this sect and a temple is built here in honour of their fourth Guru.
Agra Fort is situated in the center of the town. Built principally as a military establishment by Akbar in 1565, the red sandstone Agra fort was partially converted into a palace during Shah Jahans time. Though Akbar built the principle structure, his grandsons made many more additions.
This deserted city lies along the top of a ridge. This new capital of Akbar had to be abandoned, only 14 years after it was created, due to lack of water. But the splendid palaces and mosques remain as a vanquished dream. However, this ghost city, is worth a view for its buildings, and can be classified into religious, secular and architectural wonders. The latticework of Jama Masjid and the Dargah of Sheikh Salim Chishti are among the finest in India. The Bais Palace, Birbals House, Mariams House, Panch Mahal, Shahi Darwaza and the Buland Darwaza definitely deserve a visit.
How to Reach
Agra is well connected by road, rail and air. By air, Kheria airport is 6 kms from Agra and is well connected to cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Khajuraho, Jaipur, Varanasi and other important cities. By rail, the nearest and main railheads are Agra Cantt, Raji-ki-Mandi and Agra Fort railway stations which are well connected to Delhi, Gwalior, Bhopal, Bangalore, Jammu Tawi and other parts of the country. By road, Agra is well connected by good motorable roads. For those driving from Delhi, the best route is by Mathura Road via Faridabad. It is well connected to the neighbouring state of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh as buses depart for Khajuraho, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Mathura frequently.
Delhi Travel Guide
Delhi is the capital city of India, and can be called as a major gateway to India. Delhi is one of the most important metropolis in India,as it is the city of power. It has a very good combination of both modern, as well as ancient culture. It is also known as the Headquarters of Indian politics, as most of the heads of the Indian government and other political parties, reside here, including the Prime Minister, and President of the country. In these 3000 years of its existence, there has been the origin of seven more cities ,where the traditional Indian capital is. Strategic location, mixture of modern and Indian culture, rich history, medieval market, beside the modern ones etc are the main reasons for choosing it, as the seat of power. Delhi is a city waiting to be explored.
Down the ages, the region in and around modern Delhi, saw Lalkot built in the mid-11th century; Siri established by Allauddin Khilji; Tughlakabad and Ferozabad built by the Tuglaks, followed by the city of the Lodis; and then came Shahjahanbad, the capital of the Mughals under Shah Jahan. New Delhi also reflects the legacy, the British left behind. The division between New and Old Delhi, is the distinction, between the capitals of the British and the Mughals respectively. So, wherever the visitor goes, he will invariably confront the past of the city.
The throbbing presence of Delhi, pulls one out of the reflections of a mute past. The divisions in the Walled City and New Delh,i also mark their varied lifestyles. The Walled City, is all about traditions, whereas New Delhi, in contrast, is a city living up to contemporary international standards.
Climate & Geogaphical Location
It is extremely hot and dry in summer and cold and pleasant in winter. Standing on the west bank of the Yamuna river, at the narrowest point between the Aravalli hills and the Himalayas is Delhi.
How to Reach
New Delhi is well connected by rail, road and air. By air, New Delhi has two terminals, one for domestic and the other for international flights. 4.5 km apart ,the two are linked by coach services. The Indira Gandhi International Airport connects Delhi , to the world. On the domestic front, it is well connected with all state capitals and major metros all over India. By rail, Old Delhi, New Delhi and Hazrat Nizammuddin stations ,connect Delhi to all parts of the country. All these 3 stations ,are located at a distance of maximum 5 km from each other. By road, Delhi is connected by National Highways ,to all the parts of the country. It is also linked by bus services of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and state roadways ,of neighbouring states to all important cities and destinations in North India. Delhi is well connected by road ,with many major cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Shimla, Nainital, Agra, Ajmer, Gwalior etc.
Tourist Places :
Mahatma Gandhi was cremated here in 1948. This sprawling site, on the banks of the Yamuna, is marked by a brick platform, flanked by an eternall flame, surrounded by lush green lawns and imposing boundary walls of concrete.
The official residence of the President of India, it stands at the opposite end of the Rajpath, from India Gate. This palace-like building, is an interesting blend of Mughal and western architectural styles, the most obvious Indian feature being the huge copper dome. Attached is a Mughal garden which remains open to the public, only in February and early March. Prior to Independence this was the viceroy's residence.
Although a large and imposing building, Sansad Bhavan, the Indian parliament building, stands almost hidden and virtually unnoticed,at the end of Sansad Marg. A circular colonnaded structure, its relative physical insignificance in the grand scheme of New Delhi, shows how the focus of Power has shifted,from the viceroy's residence, which was given pride of place during the time of the British Raj, when New Delhi was conceived.
Lying to the east of Siri Fort, is the Bahai Temple shaped like a lotus flower. Completed in 1986, it is set amongst pools and gardens, and adherents of any Faith, are free to visit the temple and pray, or meditate silently, according to their own religion. It looks spectacular at dusk, particularly from the air, when it is floodlit, but is rather disappointing close up. The temple lies just inside the Outer Ring Road, 12 km southeast of the city centre.
The red sandstone walls of Lal Qila, the Red Fort, extends for 2 km, and vary in height from 18ms on the riverside, to 33ms on the city side. Started by Shah Jahan in 1638, the construction of the massive fort was completed in 1648. But he was never able, to move his capital from Agra to this new city of Shahjahanabad in Delhi, for he was imprisoned in Agra Fort by his son Aurangzeb. Dating from the very peak of Mughal power, the Mughal reign from Delhi, was a short one. However Aurangzeb was the first and last great Mughal emperor to rule from here.
This main street of Old Delhi, is the colourful shopping bazaar, known as Chandni Chowk. A very sharp contrast to the open, spacious streets of New Delhi. At its eastern end is a Digambara Jain Gurdwara (temple), with a small marble courtyard, surrounded by a colonnade. There is an interesting bird hospital here, run by the Jains.
The largest in India, and the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan; Jama Masjid is the great mosque of Old Delhi. It has three great gateways, four angle towers and two minarets constructed of alternating vertical strips of red sandstone and white marble. Broad flights of steps, lead up to the imposing gateways. The Eastern gateway was originally, only opened for the emperor, but is now only open on Friday and Muslim festival days. So large is the mosque's countryard, that it can hold 25,000 people.
A business and tourist centre, it's a vast traffic circle, with an architecturally uniform series, of colonnaded buildings around the edge, mainly devoted to shops, banks, restaurants and airline offices. Willing to shop, you can have any and every thing at your disposal. Its spacious, but busy, and the people will be willing to provide you with everything imaginable, from an airline ticket to Timbuktu, to having your fortune read. The outer circle is known as Connaught Circus.
A short stroll down Sansad Marg, from Cannaught Place, this strange collection of salmon -coloured structure, is one of Maharaja Jai Singh II's observatories. The ruler from Jaipur constructed this observatory in 1725 and a huge sundial known as the Prince of Dials dominates it. Other instruments, plot the course of heavenly bodies and predict eclipses.
Lakshmi Narayan Temple
To the west of Connaught Place, the industrialist B.D. Birla, erected this garish modern temple in 1938. Its dedicated to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and good fortune and is commonly known as Birla Mandir.
This 42ms high stone of triumph, stands at the eastern end of the Rajpath. It bears the names of 85,000 Indian army soldiers, who died in the campaigns of WW I, the NorthWest Frontier operations of the same time, and the 1919 Afghan fiasco.
One of the earliest Muslim monuments in India, it was erected in (c.1230) by Iltutmish of the Delhi Sultanate. Built in the early 13th century, a few kilometres south of Delhi, the red sandstone tower is covered with relief work and has a symbolic function, its a Victory Tower, for glorifying Islam's victory against idolators. The highest monument of India, Qutub Minar is 72.5 m high, tapering from 2.75 m in diameter at its peak, to 14.32 m at its base, and alternating angular and rounded flutings. An indoor staircase leads to the outside galleries, from where the muezzin calls for prayer. The monument is decked out with huge strips of Koranic verses. The surrounding archeological area contains funerary buildings, notably the magnificent Alai-Darwaza gate, the masterpiece of Indo-Moslem art built in 1311, and two mosques, including Quwwatul-Islam, the oldest in northern India, made from materials from about twenty Brahmin temples.
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