Escape Route is pleased to announce the beginning of group tours to Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. The tours will be customized as per the requirements and preferences of the travelers, while our experienced road-captain will be leading the convoy of private as well as commercial drives.
It’s no news that Agra has always been synonymous to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, ‘Taj Mahal’–a mausoleum built by the Mughal king Shah Jahan in the loving memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz. The ivory-white marble monument rises from the southern bank of River Yamuna like a dream, and is acclaimed as the finest example of Mughal architecture by archaeologists across the world. The construction of the breathtaking mausoleum was started in 1632, and continued for the next two decades with more than 20,000 workers and a thousand elephants working day and night. And it truly is a sight to behold at any hour of the day.
But to say that Taj Mahal is the stand-alone attraction here would not be fair to the city. Apart from the monument of love, the legacy of the Mughal empire has left magnificent forts, and a fine sprinkling of fascinating tombs and mausoleums, which were created by between the 16th century and the British Raj. These architectural and historical marvels deserve to be explored too:
Agra Fort: Merely 2.5 km away from Taj Mahal, Agra Fort is a UESCO’s World Heritage Site. It was built by various rulers over a period of time; however, Emperor Shah Jahan himself beautified it with sprawling gardens and grand galleries. Famous attractions like Diwan-e-Aam, Diwan-e-Khas ,Jahangiri Mahal, Rang Mahal, Khas Mahal, Macchi Bhawan, the royal harem, and the three mosques Mina Masjid, Moti Masjid and Nagina Masjid dwell within the fort walls. Shah Jahan was believed to have been imprisoned in the Musamman Burj, a massive tower with a balcony facing the Taj Mahal where he is said to have spent his last eight years looking at his architectural masterpiece.
Fatehpur Sikri: Another UNESCO World Heritage sites, Fatehpur Sikri is a city built entirely of red sandstone by Emperor Akbar, and is located 39 km from the main city of Agra. The city was abandoned by the Mughals in 1585 after it had served the ruling capital for almost ten years. Although water shortage is attributed as the probable cause of this abandonment, the real reason remains a mystery. The colossal city has some grand structures, the most prominent one being the imperial compound that is made up of royal palaces, harems, mosques, private quarters, and other administration constructions. But what attracts a throng of visitors at all times to this much-deserted land is one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid.
Guru ka Tal: A site of great historical and religious significance, Guru ka Tal is a Sikh pilgrimage site dedicated to Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. It is a gurudwara and a reservoir built near Sikandra to commemorate the time and life of the Sikh guru. It had twelve towers initially, but only eight managed to survive the test of time, and now remain on the location.
Tomb of Salim Chishti: This shrine monument is over 400 years old, and has been preserved immaculately by the ASI team. This place is flocked by followers of Sufism from all over the world. Located in Fatehpur Sikri in Agra, the tomb is a fine marble masterpiece, and stands where the renowned Sufi mystic, Salim Chishti had sat in meditation during his lifetime, making it his hermitage. Akbar constructed this mausoleum as a mark of his respect for the Sufi saint, who foretold the birth of Akbar’s son.
Jahangir Palace: One of the most noteworthy buildings in Agra Fort is Jahangir Palace, which was dedicated to Jahangir – Nur-ud-din Muhammad Salim – son of Akbar and Marian-ul-Zamani. A unique amalgamation of the Hindu and Central Asian architectural style, it was originally built by Akbar, and was used as the principle zenana to keep his Rajput wives. The palace was designed in a way that it could provide ultimate pleasure and comforts to Prince Jahangir. Later, the palace also served as the residence to Mughal empress Nur Jahan. The massive facade of the palace is known to be the most remarkable.
Mehtab Bagh: Not many know of the Mehtab Bagh tucked on the opposite bank of the Taj Mahal. The literal translation of its name in Urdu means, ‘The Moonlight Garden.’ Originally built by Babur, it was later used by Shah Jahan who loved sitting in the lush garden, and gazing the Taj glistening in the moonlight. While the symbol of love is a delightful sight from here at all times of the day, but its beauty stays unmatched at night.
Ram Bagh: The oldest Mughal garden in India, Ram Bagh is a colossal Persian garden separated into sections by roads, canals and streams. The idea of this garden came from Islam’s ideal paradise – a river flowing through the gardens. Originally named Aram Bagh meaning ‘Garden of Rest,’ it is the perfect example of a variant of the ‘Char Bagh’ in which water cascades down three terraces, appearing quite like a breathtaking fall.
Birbal’s house: Arguably known to be the wisest man ever, Birbal was a court advisor of King Akbar, who was an ardent fan of the former due to his impeccable wisdom. So, the king built a house for his favourite advisor during his tenure at the royal palace in Fatehpur Sikri, right next to Jodhabai’s palace. Four interconnected rooms, wide open doorways, walls with intricate carvings, two oblong entrance porches with pyramidal roofs, and a dome-style interior to keep it cool even in summers–the red-stone structure is a marvel in itself.
Akbar’s Tomb: Built over a vast area of 119 acres, this one’s the last resting place of the third Mughal Emporer, Akbar. This is the mausoleum that the great emperor chose for himself but sadly, could never finish it during his lifetime. The tomb was later finished by son Jahangir. Merely 8 km away from the main city, it is an important heritage site, and is located close to his wife Mariam’s Tomb. The tomb was constructed using red sandstone with the upper part decked with marble.
Night-viewing of Taj Mahal is allowed only 5 days a month i.e. on full moon night and two nights before and two after the full moon and the tickets have to be bought prior in advance.