Agra, or the city of the
Taj, as it is known all over the world, forms the first
destination on the itinerary of most travelers coming into India.
Forming part of the famous 'Golden Triangle' (Delhi-Jaipur-Agra),
it is placed on the western bank of the Yamuna. The magnificent
Taj Mahal which is the pride of this city is set around a
Charbagh or 'four garden' plan, which is split by watercourses -
a reflection of the Persian style.
The Taj Mahal itself is not set within the Charbagh but is located towards the far end of the enclosure near the bank of river Yamuna. The tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shahjahan are located in the basement, while their replicas are placed directly above in the upper hall.
Besides the Taj Mahal, Agra is also home to some of the finest monuments of the Mughal period - Agra Fort, Diwan-I-Am, Diwan-i-Khas, Musamman Burj, Jehangir's Palace, Shish Mahal, Jama Masjid, Tomb of Itmad-ud-daulah, Akbar's Mausoleum, and the Mariyam's Tomb, to name a few. The Mughal love for nature can be seen at Agra in the form of Ram Bagh, one of the earliest gardens, laid by the Mughal ruler Babur, in 1528 AD.
Much of Agra's impressive past lives in evidence even today. The older city of Agra has impressively retained much of its resplendent history captivating every visitor with fond memories to take back home. The old part of the city that includes the main marketplace (Kinari Bazar) is northwest to the Agra fort. It has several distinct areas whose names are attached with the Mughal period, although they don't always bear relation to what is being sold here today. To quote a few examples, the Loha Mandi (Iron Market) and Sabzi Mandi (Vegetable Market) are still operational, however the Nai ki Mandi (Barber's Market) has attained the new role of a market famous for textiles. The area to the south of the Taj is known as Taj Ganj - comprising of congested alleyways, today it contains most of Agra's budget hotels.
Besides being a historic city, Agra has shades of modernity as is typical of any Indian city. Today, luxury and modern convenience also exist adjacent to tradition - luxury hotels, shopping malls and plazas, wide avenues and a superb choice of venues for recreation, business, sports, pleasure, education and the arts.