History of AgraThe historical city of Agra was evidently standing during the pre-Mahabharata times as well as it finds mention as the city of Agravana or literally ‘Paradise’ in the epic writings. Later on it was Ptolemy, the Greek philosopher, writer and traveler who had given the city its name of Agravana. Till date it is the work of the Mughals, however, that has put Agra on the world map. The Red Fort and the Taj Mahal epitomize the beauty of the Indian handiwork on marble and stone besides a number of other soft and hard materials.
The historical monuments that dot the Agra landscape are evidences of the longevity and checkered past of the city. Agra has been referred to by many names down the annals of history. It has been called Arya Griha or the abode of the Aryans during the Vedic times and as Agravana during the time period of the epic Mahabharata. It was in the records of Ptolemy the Greek traveler and guide that one saw the first reference to Agra as it is known today.
Lodhi Dynasty in Agra
The 16th century advent of the Sikandar Lodhi Sultanate saw the emergence of Agra for the first time as a city. The city grew under the Delhi Sultanate and yet it was only under the Mughal Empire that it really blossomed into the beautiful jewel it has become. Babar the perpetuator of the Mughals onto the Indian subcontinent was the first and foremost monarch to leave his distinctive imprint on the city but the development of the typical Mughal concept of the square garden’s built on Persian lines all over the city.
Mughals in Agra
Then came Akbar who built Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri which was to be his seat of administration for fifteen years only to abandoned later under mysterious circumstances. Then it was Jahangir, the progeny of Akbar spent most of his time in Kashmir, admiring its resplendent beauty but did devote enough time to Agra to have it further beautified with lavish Mughal gardens on the strictly Persian lines which would remind him of his ancestral home.
The most memorable landmark of Agra is the World Heritage Building of The Taj Mahal which was given to the population of Agra by Shah Jahan who got it constructed in the memory of his beloved wife Noor Jahan. In 1658 Shah Jahan was imprisoned in the Agra Fort by his own son, Aurangzeb who shifted the Mughal headquarters back to the city of Agra. After the Mughals there was the onslaught of a number of petty kingdoms till the takeover by the British. It is finally after Independence in 1947 that the city was restored t the country.
Historical Monuments in Agra
There are a number of monuments that stand testimony to the Mughals’ preference for grandeur in every plane and their elaborate gardens make a sweeping statement of affluence and an eye for detail. The first of its kind the Aaram Baugh or the ‘Relaxation Garden’, also called Gul Afghaan, was laid out by Babar the first Mughal to set up the Mughal Sultanate in India. The typically Persian style of the square garden became a rage in Agra during the Mughal period and there was a spate of construction activity that made for the construction of royal, opulently designed with several towers and turrets that stood proud and tall over the landscape. Some of the edifices constructed by the Mughals were the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, the Itmad-ul Daulah tomb and the Sikandra situated nearby.
The Taj Mahal was the dream project of Shah Jahan which he had initiated in the memory of his beloved wife, Noor Jahan. The Agra Fort has been the brainchild of Emperor Akbar who was the planner and literally the designer of the various parts of the fort. Besides these there are five ancient Shiva temples located in Agra as it falls within the Brij Dham of Lord Krishna. In 1809 the British took over Agra and made it into a Commissionary.
Golden Past of Agra
Agra has the distinction of being a historical city which has been the seat of authority of a number of different monarchial heads. From the Vedic period to the present the charm and attraction of the city has remained unsullied although the perspective of the viewers has changed over the centuries. Many of the people who visit Agra these days do so for their own sense of curiosity to have a look at the wonderful edifices created by man. Amongst these the most famous is Taj Mahal for which every man and woman harbors the feelings of deep reverence and devotion because it epitomizes the seep and sensitive love of a man for his wife. Thus, Agra as a historical city is holding on to its past and is also the guiding light for the future.