"The world is divided between those who have seen the Taj and those who have not. Very soon, I hope to be on the side that has seen the Taj."
Words said by William Jefferson Clinton President, United States of America while addressing the Indian Parliament on 22.03.2000 rightly defining the immense architectural and emotional significance the Taj Mahal has, in the hearts of people around the world.
Taj Mahal : Completed in 1653 A.D., The Taj Mahal built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his favourite Queen, Mumtaz. finished by marbel, it is perhaps India's most fascinating and beautiful monument. This perfectly symmetrical monument took 22 years (1630-1652) of hard labor and 20,000 workers, Masons and Jewelers to built and is set amidst beautifully landscaped gardens.
Built by the Persian architect, Ustad Isa, The Taj Mahal is on the bank of the Yamuna river. It can be observed like a mirage from the Agra Fort from where Emperor Shah Jahan stared at it, for the last eight years of his life as a prisoner of his son Aurangzeb. It is a masterpiece of symmetry, seeming to be floating in the air from a distance, and each revealed as an illusion experienced as one enters through the main gate.
The verses of Holy Koran as inscribed on it and at the top of gate 22 small domes, signifying the number of years the monument took to built. The Taj Mahal has been built on a marvel platform that stands above a sandstone. The most elegant dome of the Taj, with diameter of 60 feet, rises 80 feet, over the building and directly under the dome is the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan's tomb has been erected next to her by his son Aurangzeb.
Agra Fort : The great Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned the construction of the Agra Fort in 1565 A.D., although additions were made till the time of his grandson Shah Jahan. The forbidding exteriors of this fort hide an inner paradise. The fort is crescent shaped, flattened on the east with a long, nearly straight wall facing the river. It has a total perimeter of 2.4 k.m., and is ringed by double castellated ramparts of red sandstone punctuated at regular intervals by bastions. A 9 mt. wide and 10 mt. deep moat surround the outer wall.
There are number of exquisite building like the Moti Masjid, a white marvel mosque akin to a perfect pearl, Diwan-e-Am, Diwan-e-Khaas, Jehangir's Palace, Khaas Mahal, Shish Mahal and Musamman or Samman Burj, where Shahjahan was held captive in 1666 A.D.
Itmad - Ud Daula : The tomb of Afzal Khan, the Persian poet and minister at Shah Jahan's court gets its name from the brightly colored glazed tiles that decorate it.
Chini Ka Rauza : Lies just 1km beyond Itmad -Ud -Daula.
Sikandara Fort : Welcome to Sikandra, a suburb of Agra, only 13 km from Agra Fort. The last resting place of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Akbar was the greatest of the Mughal emperors and one of the most secular minded royalties of his time. He was the heir to a long tradition of oriental refinement, a great patron of the arts, literature, philosophy and science. A visit to Akbar's monument opens before one, the completeness of Akbar's personality as completely as the Taj Mahal does of Mumtaz Mahal's.
Fatehpur Sikri : Imposing gateways and light- hearted places were built in red sandstone within this fortified city only to be abandoned a few years later. Among its many architectural game are the places for his queens - Jodha Bai, Mariyam and his Turkish sultana, built in varying styles, each perfect in itself.
The Diwan-e-Khas entirely unique in its concept is a tall vaulted room with an intricately carved central pillar and capital supporting a platform that once held the emperor's throne. Narrow galleries link this to the corners of the room where it is believed his ministers sat The airy Panch Mahal, a 5 storied structure rising in pyramidal fashion was probably used by the ladies of the court. Set like a jewel in a courtyard of pink sandstone is the finest building here, the marble tomb of Salim Chisti enclosed by finely carved, lacy marble screens. The Buland Darwaza, an imposing gateway 54 m high was built to commemorate Akbar's Aligarh the famous university town is a center of Islamic studies. The city is also noted for its handicrafts and metal ware.
Taj Mahotsav : Come February, and it's springtime. The time of the year when nature dawns all its colorful splendor and Agra bursts into colorful celebrations. For 10 days there is sheer celebration of U.P.'s rich heritage of arts, crafts, culture, cuisine, dance and music. Yes, it is Taj Mahotsav time again. There are festivities all around and Agra truly puts on the colors of joy and gets transformed into one non-stop carnival. Organised by U.P. Tourism and held as an annual event at Shilpgram, literally next door to the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahotsav is indeed a fitting tribute to the legendary skills of master craftsman and other exponents of art, music and cuisine. Not only this, it is also a gentle peep into the rich heritage and extraordinary legacies of this wonderful land. The festivities commence with a spectacular procession inspired by Mughal splendor. Bedecked elephants and camels, drum beaters, folk artistes and master craftsmen, all help recreate a visual delight reminiscent of the golden era of the Mughal Darbars.
Radha Swami Samadhi : This is the head quarter of Radhaswami religion, here the holy ashes of the founder of the faith have been preserved. On the sprawling lawns here, is a beautiful marvel temple with beautiful carving of fruits, flowers, leaves and plants which have been reduced into stone true to nature, and are distinctive specimens of the plastic arts. This is under construction for almost 100 years.