AGRA TOURS GUIDE
Agra is one of the prominent destinations of the World Tourism map with three heritage monuments-The Taj Mahal, Red Fort & Fatehpur Sikri. It is not just a dacadent city of graveyards and stones, but it is a vibrant centre of Culture, Art and Religious philosphies that have enriched mankind and shaped human thought over centuries.
AGRA TOURIST INFORMATION :
Agra is an ancient city on the Yamuna River in India, within the state of Uttar Pradesh. It is famous as being home to one of the Seven Wonders of the world-the Taj Mahal. It achieved prominence as the capital of the Mughal sovereigns from 1526 to 1658 and remains a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings. A pleasant town with a comparatively slow pace, Agra is known for its superb inlay work on marble and soapstone by craftsmen who are descendants of those who worked under the Mughals. The city is also famous for its carpets, gold thread embroidery and leather shoes.
AGRA HISTORY :
For anyone with a deep interest in history, a summary of Agra's history would indeed provide a wealth of information. Situated on the banks of river Yamuna between Mathura and Surajpur, Agra was originally a part of the Surasena Empire with Mathura as its capital. But it came into limelight when Sikander Lodhi, the Sultan of Delhi made it his capital in the 16th century. After the advent of the Mughals, there was a shift in the power play and Agra became the most important seat of Mughal power in India between the 16th and 17th centuries. Agra was one of the most important cities under the Mughals, which is amply evident from the numerous historical monuments in and around the city. The earliest reference for Agra comes from the epical age, when Mahabharata refer Agra as Agravana. In the sources prior to this, Agra has been referred as Arya Griha or the abode of the Aryans. The first person who referred Agra by its modern name was Ptolemy. Agra came to its own when Shahjahan ascended to the throne of Mughal Empire. He marked the zenith of Mughal architecture, when he built the Taj in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. In his later years, Shahjahan shifted his capital to the new city of Shahjahanabad in Delhi and ruled from there. Shahjahan was dethroned in 1658 by his son, Aurangzeb who imprisoned him in the Agra Fort. Aurangzeb shifted the capital back to Agra till his death. After the death of Aurangzeb, Mughal Empire could not touch its peak and many regional kingdoms emerged. The post-Mughal era of Agra saw the rule of the Jats, Marathas and finally the British taking over the city.
AGRA AT A GLANCE:
Agra Facts & Figures
Area 62 km²
Literacy 42 %
Languages Hindi & Urdu
Best Time to Visit Winters
Altitude 169 mts.
Rainfall 66 cm average yearly.
HOTELS IN AGRA :
Hotel Amar Vilas Palace
Hotel Taj View Hotel Radisson Hotel Mansingh
Hotel Jaypee Palace Hotel Clark Shiraz Hotel Holiday Inn Hotel Amar
Hotel Mughal Sheraton Hotel Howard Park Plaza Hotel Trident Hilton Hotel Deedar-e Taj
AGRA TOURIST ATTRACTIONS :
Taj Mahal Agra Fort Itimad-ud-Daulah Sikandra
Chini Ka Rauza Dayal Bagh Ram Bagh Fatehpur Sikri
Mathura Vrindavan Jama Masjid
AGRA TRAVEL INFO :
By Air - Agra has its own airport which connects Agra with all the major places in India. The Agra airport or the Kheria airport has all the major domestic airlines having their services to this place.
By Rail - Agra has a major railway station by having stoppage for almost all the trains to south India, Mumbai and many trains to Calcutta. The Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains have also their stoppage in Agra. Agra is connected by rail with all major cities of the country.
By Road - Agra, on cross-roads of National Highways 2, 3. and 11, is excellently connected to all parts of the country. The state transports have ordinary as well as deluxe bus services for this place of the Taj.
AGRA FAIRS & FESTIVALS :
Fairs and festivals are celebrated with traditional gaiety and fervor to invoke divine blessings as well as for the sheer joy of living. A celebration of life at its best.
Bateshwar Fair : Situated at a distance of 70 km. from Agra on the banks of river Yamuna, Bateshwar is an important spiritual and cultural centre. The place is named after the presiding deity of the region, Bateshwar Mahadeo and has 108 temples dedicated to the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. During the months of Oct. & Nov. a large fair is organized from Shashthi of Kartik month to Panchami of Agrahayan month. Devotees congregate here in large numbers to worship Lord Shiva and take holy dips in river Yamuna. A livestock fair is also organized and owners and buyers conduct serious business combined with the gaiety of a market place.
Taj Mahotsav : The Taj Mahotsav at Agra is a colorful display of the Arts, crafts, culture and cuisine of the Braj area. Organized by U.P. Tourism and held as an annual event at the Shilpgram, Taj Mahotsav is a fitting tribute to the legendary skills of master craftsmen of Agra and adjoining regions.
Ram Barat : The marriage procession of Sri Ram, is held every year during Ramlila celebrations at Agra. Every year a new locale of the town is chosen as Janakpuri, which is elaborately decorated to perform the royal wedding. The Rambarat (marriage procession) starts from Lala Channomaiji Id Baradari for Janakpuri passing through different parts of the town. The barat is a large procession of Jhankis followed by the swaroops of Ram-Lakshman mounted on elephants.
Lathmar Holi : Lathmaar Holi is the most colourful and exuberant form of traditional Holi festival celebrated at Barsana, 48 km. from Mathura and at Nandgaon 7 km. ahead, women folk here beat the men with 'Lathis' or Bamboo poles while showering coloured water on them with great rejoice and merriment.
Kailash Fair : Held at Kailash, 12 kms from Agra. It is a major fair celebrated in honour of Lord Shiva who is believed to have appeared here in the form of a stone lingam. It is celebrated during the months of August-September.
Janmasthmi : The twin cities of Mathura-Vrindavan celebrate the festival of Janmasthmi with great pomp and show. Temples are heavily decorated with 'Jhankis' or tableaus, depicting various episodes of Lord Krishna's life. The special attraction during the period are the gold and silver 'Jhulas' or swings which are taken out on display only during the occasion and the 'Ghatas', when the entire temple is decorated in only one colour-the colour of the 'Ghata' decided for that Day. The Raaslila enactments further add to the festive spirit.
AGRA SHOPPING :
Agra is known not only for its monumental wonders but also for its handicrafts and fine arts traditions. You can shop to your hearts content in the markets of Agra. Shopping in Agra, is a pleasure, for the fine crafts once offered only to royalty are now available to discerning travelers. Some of the fine work for which Agra is famous includes marblework, such as inlaywork of the kind seen within the Taj Mahal; leatherwork covering a wide range of products such as shoes, bags, belts and more; rugs and carpets, woven by master craftsmen who retain the secrets of carpet weaving taught generations ago by Persian rug makers, and brassware which includes artifacts such as hookah bases, for those who wish to acquire an oriental souvenir. The main markets for shopping in Agra are near the Taj Mahal complex. These areas include Sadar Bazaar, Kinari Bazaar and Munro Road. The U.P State Emporium called Gangotri at the Taj Mahal Complex, offers a choice of handicrafts under one roof. The Shilpagram crafts village is another venue with a wide range of handicrafts on sale, directly by the artisans themselves.
AGRA CUISINE :
Several of India's famous meat dishes come from the north where Muslim influence introduced considerable sophistication. The superb Mughlai cuisine with its luscious sauces of milk, curd, cream and crushed nuts is available in major restaurants in the big cities. There are rich, creamy kormas; tender, steak like pasandas in an almond sauce; nargisi kofta, mince (usually mutton) moulded.