While you may have heard of the Taj Mahal, you may not be familiar with the surrounding city of Agra in the state of Uttah Pradesh. This city was constructed at the request of the former Sultan of Delhi. Under his rule, the city briefly served as India’s capital. Much of the city’s popularity centers around the lavish mausoleum a former ruler had constructed for his wife, commonly known as the Taj Mahal. While that legend may be the most popular, there are many other awe-inspiring structures in Agra with equally memorable backstories. The Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah has the distinction of being India’s first mausoleum to be constructed completely of marble instead of the typical sandstone construction. Some say it was the inspiration for the Taj Mahal. Despite the fact that the Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah preceded the Taj Mahal by many years, many refer to it as the baby Taj for its smaller but striking similarities.
Mahal is loosely translated from Sanskrit to mean “palace”. Many of Agra’s mausoleums have “mahal” in the title as a general reference to their ornate nature. The opulent design of the local mosques makes them a unique feature in Agra’s landscape. Agra is well known for its many forts that housed royalty and political figures. These forts are essentially compounds that could sustain themselves in the event of a siege. Agra Fort was designated as one of the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage sites. Also known as the Red Fort of Agra, this palatial estate was built for the protection and enjoyment of the Mughal royalty that reigned many centuries ago. Within these walls are exquisite structures such as Jahangir Palace and Khas Mahal, as well as a mini-amphitheater.
The mighty forts, grand mosques, and majestic palaces make Agra an exceptionally remarkable stop on your excursion to India.