The epitome of love, the elegy in marble, Taj Mahal is one of the most graceful and extravagant monuments in India. The seventh wonder of the world, it attracts thousands of tourists every year. A symbol of endless love and devotion of Emperor Shah Jehan to his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj is a befitting tribute to so romantic-a-love story and so divine an emotion that binds two souls forever. On her deathbed (Queen- Mumtaz Mahal), she made the emperor to promise to make a lovely monument unlike any other in the world as the tribute to their loving moments that were a treasure for her. The emperor kept the promise faithfully and thus, Taj was conceived.
The pure white marble structure, Taj acquires different shades at different times of the day and with changing seasons. The soft pink color of the dawn and fiery shade that it acquires at dusk are all bewitching. Though, the light that presents it in the best possible manner is perhaps that of full moon, when it shines with pristine white and silver glory.
Completed in 1653 A.D., The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his favourite Queen, Mumtaz.This perfectly symmetrical monument took 22 years (1630-1652) of hard labour and 20,000 workers, Masons and Jewelers to built and is set amidst landscaped gardens. Built by the Persian architect, Ustad Isa, The Taj Mahal is located on the banks of the Yamuna river. The verses of Holy Koran as inscribed on it and at the top of gate – 22 small domes, signifying the number of years the monument took to built.
A visit to Taj Mahal, the mausoleum of Mumtaz, is a rare experience. It has become signature monument of Indian architecture and someone has rightly said that Taj has been designed like a palace and finished like a jewel.
Visiting hours of the Taj Mahal are 6 AM to 7 PM & it remains closed on Friday. There are night viewing sessions every month on the nights of a full moon and the two days before and after (so five days in total). Night view is allowed between 20:30 PM to 00:30 hour only and the duration of visit is 30 minutes.
The Great Mughal Emperor Akbar choose this city Agra, on the bank of River Yamuna as his capital and proceeded to build a strong citadel for the purpose. It is said that he destroyed the damaged old fort of Agra for the purpose and raised this grand group of monuments instead in red sandstone. Started in 1565, it took eight years and thirty-five lakh rupees to complete its construction and is second only to Taj in Agra.
The fort is crescent shaped, flattened on the east with a long, nearly straight wall facing the Yamuna river. It has a total perimeter of 2.4 kms.., and is ringed by double castellated ramparts of red sandstone punctuated at regular intervals by bastions. A 9 mt. wide and 10 mt. deep moats surround the outer wall. There are number of exquisite building like the Moti Masjid-a white marvel mosque akin to a perfect pearl, Diwan-e-Am, Diwan-e-Khaas, Jehangir’s Palace, Khaas Mahal, Shish Mahal and Musamman or Samman Burj-where Emperor Shahjahan was held captive in 1666 A.D. by his own son Shahjahan.
Fatehpur Sikri is about 39 K.M. from Agra and falls between the road from Agra to Jaipur. Fatehpur Sikri is an epic in red sandstone. It was planned as a great town by The Mughal Emperor Akbar with great care and planning in the honor of Sheikh Salim Chisti but had to be abandoned only after fifteen years due to scarcity of water in the town. Sheikh Salim Chishti was a Sufi saint who blessed the Akbar with his first son and heir, who was named Salim after him and later came to be known as Jehangir. The beautiful marvel tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti still attracts thousands who seek blessings of the revered saint.
The mausoleum of the Emperor Akbar represents his philosophy and secular outlook, combining the best of Hindu and Muslim architectures in a superlative region. Completed in 1613 A.D. by his son Jahangir, it is one of the well-preserved monuments. This is the last resting place of the Mughal Emperor Akbar.
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
The Keoladeo Ghana National Park formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Rajasthan, North India, is 54 kms from Agra and 215 kms from Delhi. The park was a hunting ground for the maharajas (kings) of Bharatpur, a tradition dating back to 1850, and duck shoots were organized yearly in honor of the British viceroys. In one shoot alone in 1938, over 4,273 birds such as mallards and teals were killed by Lord Linlithgow, the then Governor-General of India. After India’s independence, the rulers of the princely states were allowed shooting rights until 1972. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1972. It is also a declared World Heritage Site.
The main Wildlife in Bharatpur National Park, for which the park is famous all around the world- is birds. Also known as the ‘ Ornithologist’s Paradise’ the park is home to over 400 species of birds. The most prominent birds in the Bharatpur National Park are the migratory Siberian Cranes, Pelicans, Cranes, Ibis, Spoonbills, Egrets, Darters, Cormorants, Grey Herons, Stork, Ducks, Eagles, Hawks, Pipits, Warblers, Wheatears, Wagtails, Flycatchers, Buntings, Larks, Shanks, and Stints to name a few. The wildlife in Bharatpur National Park comprises of a number of mammalian species, birds and reptiles. The mammalian species found in the park include Nilgai, Chinkara, Sambhar, Chital, Black bucks, Fishing cat, Otter, Mongoose, Leopard Cat, Jungle Cat, Fishing Cats, Foxes, Wild Boar and many others.
Bharatpur has not that much of rich heritage sites, architecturally or even, commercially like the other cities of Rajasthan. But it is the home of more than 380 species of beautiful feathered birds, and this is the reason why visitors want to visit this place time and again.