Besides being the
city of the Taj, Agra also boasts of a rich historical past. It finds mentions in the Mahabharata, the popular Indian epic dating
back to the third century B.C. Then it was
called Agrabana or the Paradise City. The
city came to prominence in the 16th and 17th centuries during the
reign of the Mughals when their capital alternated between Agra and Delhi. Today, Delhi reigns over India, but Agra reigns
over a glorious past created by people skilled in craftsmanship, art and architecture.
The state of
architecture in India came to its fullest eminence during the Mughal rule. With the arrival of Akbar, the Mughal era saw the
beginning of an unparalleled building activity. All
that was best in the building tradition of India came to life, with Shah Jahan taking the
Mughal architecture to its climactic best in the famous Taj Mahal. To some, the Taj Mahal is just an over-rated and
over-iced wedding cake. To others, it is a
sublime experience to be ranked with the Pyramids of Egypt, the Palace of Versailles or
the Parthenon of Athens as the aesthetic epitome of a civilization. And to still others, it is simply the greatest
love story ever told!
Arjuman Banu, the
niece of Jahangirs queen, Nur Jahan, was the second wife of Emperor Shah Jahan. After her marriage with Shah Jahan in 1612, she
took another name by which she was to be known to posterity Mumtaz Mahal. She bore him fourteen children and it was in
childbirth that she died. Shah Jahan vowed to
build her a memorial surpassing everything the world had ever seen in beauty and, it must
be admitted, in wild extravagence! Indeed,
the Taj is a long lyric of love in marble and has no parallel anywhere in the world.
brought from Persia, Turkey, France and Italy and with a huge army of 20,000 labourers in
action for 22 long years, this magnificent edifice in marble and sandstone came up on the
shores of the River Yamuna. It is one of the
wonders of the world and stands out as a hallmark to the creative ingenuity of mankind,
luring millions of visitors to this country. It
is a monument that needs to be approached and observed at different times of the day from
far and near to get an adequate experience of the sheer beauty that it evokes. It is said that the Taj looks especially splendid
on a full moon night, presenting a feast to the eyes and making the tourists thrilled and
enthralled by its sheer beauty.