India's City of Love - Agra

If Kolkata is the City of Joy, then perhaps Agra is India's City of Love. Situated at a distance of 200km from Delhi, Agra served as the capital of the great Mughal Empire during the peak of its power. Today, Agra is best known as the home of the world's greatest monument for love - The Taj Mahal.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Agra and soak in its history. Over the course of a day, I visited three monuments: The tomb of Itimad-ud-daula, the Agra Fort and of course, the celebrated Taj.

I plan to write about my Agra visit in a three part post - each post dedicated to one of the three monuments mentioned above. I know that reams and reams have been written about these already. But I hope that my take will be unique enough to make it an interesting read.

All photographs featured in the posts are taken from my camera - except perhaps for a few at the Taj. The camera battery had dwindled by then. I may have to borrow pictures from the net.

Hope you will like these posts....

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8 Responses to India's City of Love - Agra

  1. The Taj Mahal... the near ethereal monument of love built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite and beloved consort Mumtaz Mahal... who passed away due to anemia while giving birth to their 14th child in an 18/19-year marriage. Has the whole dreamy, romantic angle twisted history and hidden certain uncomfortable facts successfully? Is the Taj Mahal named after Mumtaz Mahal (real name Arjumand Banu Begum/Mumtaz-ul-Zamani)? But isn't that too far fetched? What about the architecture that tells a different story?

    Apparently... more than 20,000 workmen/craftsmen toiled for 22 years to build the Taj. With the Maharaja of Jaipur sending the marble as a gift to the Mughal Emperor. But no traveler including the ones from Europe has ever mentioned about something being built on such a large scale in any of their chronicles.

    And what about several suggestions that Shah Jahan had an incestuous relationship with his daughter Jahanara Begum??

    How come breathtaking pieces of architecture, beautiful monuments, forts and buildings came to be regarded as the legacy of the marauding conquerors who came on horse backs from the east and the west... and left behind devastated cities and rotting corpses? How is it that the places they came from do not boast of such architectural marvels?

  2. I am looking forward to read your posts.

  3. Deepa says:

    @Partha: You are most welcome to read the next two installments also.

    @Roshmi: I'm not sure I have any answers to your questions. Every beautiful monument has a story to tell. Stories around the Sun Temple of Konark tell of how the artistes were not allowed out of the building premises for 12 years and all their repressed sexual desires found expression in the erotic sculptures. Taj Mahal's history also has such instances.

    I would not agree completely with the analogy of the Mughals as marauding conquerors. They certainly came as invaders, but remained to make India their home. Remember Akbar is one of only two Indian kings who addressed as 'the Great' (the second being Ashoka).

    I also disagree that the place the Mughals came from, namely Afghanistan and Central Asia do not have beautiful architectural heritage. There are many examples in Isphahan, Kabul - including the tomb of Babur himself.

    As for theories on whether the Taj was indeed a monument of grief dedicated to Mumtaz or not, do try reading up about the 'Throne of God' theory viz Taj. There is also an excellent documentary about it by BBC (I think).

  4. Rachna says:

    I was born in Agra but have no memories of the town of my childhood. My dad says that development has not touched the town. It has become worse off. He had recently visited it.

  5. Quizzerix says:

    I liked the build-up to your posts on the Taj..and also the first post on the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daula..I should make it a point to visit it when I go to Agra again..

    @Roshmi: I learnt some new trivia about the marble being gifted etc..Should maybe read more about the making of the Taj...

    BTW, I think you are off the mark when you say that places like Samarkand or central Asia don't have edifices that are architectural marvels..there are many of them and your view is somewhat harsh..