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Agra and Environs Travel Guide

  • Photo: Peter Guttman/Peterguttman.com

Agra

It's safe to say that Agra, a sprawling city of nearly 1.5 million inhabitants, would not be on many tourists' maps if it weren't for one thing: the Taj Mahal. Yes, it is crowded and congested, but imagine walking down an avenue of stores selling tiny replicas of the Taj Mahal, with guides and hawkers vying for your attention... and then passing through a massive doorway and seeing the

Taj Mahal in all its splendor. It's a magical moment. As you find out more, you'll discover that other amazing sights are also worth the trek. You can drive to the old fortress city of the Mughals, Fatehpur Sikri, as well as Agra's fort.

In this Mughal stronghold every successive emperor added something new to prove his cultural sensibilities and his power. Under the Mughal emperor Akbar (1542-1605) and his successors Jahangir (1605-27) and Shah Jahan (1628-58), Agra flourished. However, after the reign of Shah Jahan's son Aurangzeb (1658-1707) and the gradual disintegration of the empire, the city passed from one invader to another before the British took charge early in the 19th century. The British, particularly Governor General Lord Curzon (in office 1898-1905), did much to halt and repair the damage inflicted on Agra's forts and palaces by raiders and vandals.

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