Agra (Hindi: आगरा, Urdu: آ گرہ), the erstwhile capital of Hindustan, is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, 363 kilometres (226 mi) west of state capital, Lucknow and 200 kilometres (124 mi) south of the national capital New Delhi. With a population of 1,686,976 (2010 est.), it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most populous in India.Because 80 percent of the city's sewage flows into Yamuna River, it is 20th most polluted city in India. Agra can also refer to the administrative district that has its headquarters in Agra city.
The city finds mention in the epic Mahābhārata where it was called Agrevaṇa, or 'the border of the forest'.Legend ascribes the founding of the city to Rājā Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king (circa 1475), whose fort, Badalgarh, stood on or near the site of the present Fort. However, the 11th century Persian poet Mas'ūd Sa'd Salmān writes of a desperate assault on the fortress of Agra, then held by the Shāhī King Jayapala, by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni.Sultan Sikandar Lodī was the first to move his capital from Delhi to Agra in the year 1506; he died in 1517 and his son Ibrāhīm Lodī remained in power there for nine more years, finally being defeated at the Battle of Panipat in 1526. It achieved fame as the capital of the Mughal emperors from 1526 to 1658 and remains a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Tāj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpūr Sikrī, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Though Agra's history is largely recognised with Mughal Empire, the place was established much before it and has linkages since Mahabharat period and Mahirshi Angira in 1000 BC. It is generally accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lodī, the Ruler of the Delhi Sultanate founded Agra in the year 1504. After the Sultan's death the city passed on to his son Sultan Ibrāhīm Lodī. He ruled his Sultanate from Agra until he fell fighting to Bābar in the First battle of Panipat fought in 1526.
In the year 1556, the great Hindu warrior Hemu Vikramaditya, also known as Samrat Hem Chander Vikramaditya, won Agra as the Prime Minister cum Chief of Army of Adil Shah of the Afghan Sūrī Dynasty. The commander of Humāyūn / Akbar's forces in Agra, Tardi Beg Khan, was so scared of Hemu that he retreated from the city without a fight. This was Hemu's 21st continuous win since 1554, and he later went on to conquer Delhi, having his coronation at Purānā Qil'a in Delhi on 7 October 1556 and re-established the Hindu Kingdom and the Vikramaditya Dynasty in North India.
The golden age of the city began with the Mughals. It was known then as Akbarabād and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under the Emperors Akbar, Jahāngīr and Shāh Jahān. Shāh Jahān later shifted his capital to Shāhjahānabād in the year 1649.
Since Akbarabād was one of the most important cities in India under the Mughals, it witnessed a lot of building activity. Babar, the founder of the Mughal dynasty, laid out the first formal Persian garden on the banks of river Yamuna. The garden is called the Arām Bāgh or the Garden of Relaxation. His grandson Akbar raised the towering ramparts of the Great Red Fort, besides making Agra a center for learning, arts, commerce and religion. Akbar also built a new city on the outskirts of Akbarabād called Fatehpūr Sikrī. This city was built in the form of a Mughal military camp in stone.
His son Jahāngīr had a love of gardens and flora and fauna and laid many gardens inside the Red Fort or Lāl Qil'a. Shāh Jahān, known for his keen interest in architecture, gave Akbarabād its most prized monument, the Tāj Mahal. Built in loving memory of his wife Mumtāz Mahal, the mausoleum was completed in 1653.
Shāh Jahān later shifted the capital to Delhi during his reign, but his son Aurangzeb moved the capital back to Akbarabād, usurping his father and imprisoning him in the Fort there. Akbarabād remained the capital of India during the rule of Aurangzeb until he shifted it to Aurangabad in the Deccan in 1653. After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the city came under the influence of Marathas and Jats and was called Agra, before falling into the hands of the British Raj in 1803.
In 1835 when the Presidency of Agra was established by the British, the city became the seat of government, and just two years later it was witness to the Agra famine of 1837–38. During the Indian rebellion of 1857 British rule across India was threatened, news of the rebellion had reached Agra on 11 May and on 30 May two companies of native infantry, the 44th and 67th regiments, rebelled and marched to Delhi. The next morning native Indian troops in Agra were forced to disarm, on 15 June Gwalior (which lies south of Agra) rebelled. By 3 July the British were forced to withdraw into the fort. Two days later a small British force at Sucheta were defeated and forced to withdraw, this led to a mob sacking the city. However, the rebels moved onto Delhi which allowed the British to restore order by 8 July. Delhi fell to the British in September, the following month rebels who had fled Delhi along with rebels from Central India marched on Agra but were defeated. After this British rule was again secured over the city until the independence of India in 1947.
Agra is the birthplace of the religion known as Dīn-i Ilāhī, which flourished during the reign of Akbar and also of the Radhaswami Faith, which has around two million followers worldwide. Agra has historic linkages with Shauripur of Jainism and Runukta of Hinduism, of 1000 BC.
Agra Fort, is a monument, (Hindi: आगरा का किला, Urdu: آگرہ قلعہ) is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It is about 2.5 km northwest of its more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. The fort can be more accurately described as a walled city. After Panipat, Mughals captured the fort and a vast treasure - which included a diamond that was later named as the Koh-i-Noor diamond - was seized. Babur stayed in the fort in the palace of Ibrahim. He built a baoli (step well) in it. Humayun was crowned here in 1530. Humayun was defeated in Bilgram in 1540. Sher Shah held the fort for five years. The Mughals defeated the Hindu King Hemu finally at the Second Battle of Panipat in 1556.
It was originally a brick fort, held by the Hindu Sikarwar Rajputs. It was mentioned for the first time in 1080 AD when a Ghaznavide force captured it. Sikandar Lodi (1488–1517) was the first Sultan of Delhi who shifted to Agra and lived in the fort. He governed the country from here and Agra assumed the importance of the second capital. He died in the fort in 1517 and his son, Ibrahim Lodi, held it for nine years until he was defeated and killed at Panipat in 1526. Several palaces, wells and a mosque were built by him in the fort during his period.
After Panipat, Mughals captured the fort and a vast treasure - which included a diamond that was later named as the Koh-i-Noor diamond - was seized. Babur stayed in the fort in the palace of Ibrahim. He built a baoli (step well) in it. Humayun was crowned here in 1530. Humayun was defeated in Bilgram in 1540. Mughals under Akbar, defeated the Hindu King Hemu finally at the Second Battle of Panipat in 1556.
Realizing the importance of its central situation, Akbar made it his capital and arrived in Agra in 1558. His historian, Abdul Fazal, recorded that this was a brick fort known as 'Badalgarh' . It was in a ruined condition and Akbar had it rebuilt with red sandstone from Barauli area in Rajasthan. Architects laid the foundation and it was built with bricks in the inner core with sandstone on external surfaces. Some 1,444,000 builders worked on it for eight years, completing it in 1573.
It was only during the reign of Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan, that the site took on its current state. The legend is that Shah Jahan built the beautiful Taj Mahal for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Unlike his grandfather, Shah Jahan tended to have buildings made from white marble, often inlaid with gold or semi-precious gems. He destroyed some of the earlier buildings inside the fort in order to make his own.
At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was deposed and restrained by his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort. It is rumored that Shah Jahan died in Muasamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony with a view of the Taj Mahal.
The fort was the site of a battle during the Indian rebellion of 1857, which caused the end of the British East India Company's rule in India, and led to a century of direct rule of India by Britain.
The monumental Delhi Gate, which faces the city on the western side of the fort, is considered the grandest of the four gates and a masterpiece of Akbar's time. It was built circa 1568 both to enhance security and as the king's formal gate, and includes features related to both. It is embellished with inlay work in white marble, proof to the richness and power of the Great Mughals. A wooden drawbridge was used to cross the moat and reach the gate from the mainland; inside, an inner gateway called Hathi Pol ("Elephant Gate") - guarded by two life-sized stone elephants with their riders - added another layer of security. The drawbridge, slight ascent, and 90-degree turn between the outer and inner gates make the entrance impregnable. During a siege, attackers would employ elephants to crush a fort's gates. Without a level, straight run-up to gather speed, however, something prevented by this layout, elephants are ineffective.
Because the Indian military (the Parachute Brigade in particular) is still using the northern portion of the Agra Fort, the Delhi Gate cannot be used by the public. Tourists enter via the Amar Singh Gate.
The site is very important in terms of architectural history. Abul Fazal recorded that five hundred buildings in the beautiful designs of Bengal and Gujarat were built in the fort. Some of them were demolished by Shahjahan to make way for his white marble palaces. Most of the others were destroyed by the British between 1803 and 1862 for raising barracks. Hardly thirty Mughal buildings have survived on the south-eastern side, facing the river. Of these, the Delhi Gate and Akbar Gate and one palace - "Bengali Mahal" - are representative Akbari buildings.
Akbar Darwazza (Akbar Gate) was renamed Amar Singh Gate by the British. The gate is similar in design to the Delhi Gate. Both are built of red sandstone.
The Bengali Mahal is built of red sandstone and is now split into Akbari Mahal and Jahangiri mahal.
Some of the most historically interesting mixing of Hindu and Islamic architecture are found here. In fact, some of the Islamic decorations feature haraam (forbidden) images of living creatures - dragons, elephants and birds, instead of the usual patterns and calligraphy seen in Islamic surface decoration.