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If you want a date with the 17th century architectural wonder, a tour to Agra, the city of Taj is what you should plan. Agra is located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India and is situated on the bank of the Yamuna. Agra is about 220 kilometres from Delhi, the capital of India. Taj Mahal Agra offers various tours to Agra. Known as the city of Taj, Agra has a history steeped in love, war and treachery. Though ruled by many dynasties, it was under the Mughals that Agra attained fame. It was in 1504, when Delhi Sultan Sikander Lodhi shifted his capital from Delhi to Agra and it became an important power centre. But the coming of the Mughal's in India in 1526 changed the history of India in general and Agra in particular. For the next 300 years Agra was an important city. But it was under the Mughal emperors Akbar (1556-1605) and Shah Jahan (1627-58), Agra reached the zenith of art and culture. During the reign of Shah Jahan, Agra had attained an iconic status of a city that excelled in fine art and architecture. Many of the monuments in and around Agra that we see today were built during the reign of Akbar and Shah Jahan. Once the pride of the Mughal emperors, Agra still attracts. The city has not lost its glory and the aura that surrounds it. There are many historic sites that one can visit when in Agra. The prominent among them are the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort.
Taj Mahal built by Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal is what attracts millions of travellers from all over the world to Agra. Such is the beauty of the Taj that the former President of the United States William Jefferson Clinton, during his visit to India in 2000 said "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." Agra Red Fort built by the Mughal emperor Akbar, is another interesting site in Agra to look for. It was in this fort; Shah Jahan spent last days of his life watching the Taj Mahal. He was imprisoned in the fort by his son Aurangzeb. Besides the Red Fort and the Taj Mahal, Agra has some of the finest monuments of the Mughal era. When on a Tour to Agra, one can also visit Shish Mahal, Musamman Burj, Diwan-I-Khas and Jehangir's Palace.
The mausoleum, Itmad-ud-daulah, here needs a special mention. It was built by Nur Jahan, wife of the Mughal emperor Jehangir somewhere between 1622 and 1625 for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg. The mausoleum, which resembles a silver jewel box, is considered to be the third must see building in Agra. If you are the one who love gardens, you will find many in Agra. Interestingly, you will observe most of the monuments built by the Mughals have gardens as an integral part of their structure. The best example of course is the Taj Mahal. One of the most visited gardens in Agra is Ram Bagh, which was laid by the first Mughal ruler Baber.
To get the local feel, head to the old city, which still retains its resplendent history. Many of the places in the city still bear their old names. But Agra has kept its pace with modernity and one can find history and modernity exist side by side in Agra. A number of shopping malls, venues for recreation and a number of upmarket hotels are also available in Agra.
If shopping is what you love, Agra offers the best in handicrafts. You can also choose marbles inlaid with coloured stones. Mini replicas of the Taj Mahal make one of the best souvenirs to take back. Agra is also famous for hand made leather items. No matter what you take back once you leave Agra, but don't forget to taste Mughlai cuisine, which originated in this region. Taj Ganj in the south of the Taj Mahal, where most of the budget hotels are located also houses various eateries. A speciality of Agra that most take with them is Agra petha, a kind of sweet famous all over India.