History of Agra
- Agra has found its mention in the famous Hindu epic Mahabharat as the forest of Agraban close to Mathura. Badal Singh founded the city in 1475. Sikandar Lodhi made Agra his capital city. Later, Babur defeated the Lodhis to capture the city situated on the banks of River Yamuna and thus, the long association of Mughals with Agra started. The Mughal love of architecture translated into beautiful monuments such as Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and Sikandra. The glory of Agra was at its peak during the reign of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. Akbar made it the center of art, culture, commerce and learning and Shah Jahan saw it in full bloom. In fact, it is said that it was Akbar who laid the foundation of the modern city that we see now in 1558 and was known as Akbarabad. Most of the buildings belong to the period between mid-16th century and 17th century and were of high quality. These monuments were built in the contemporary Mughal style. Mughlai cuisine and the skilled craftsmen can still be seen in the narrow lanes of the city as a reminiscent of the lost times.
History of Agra Before Mughals
- The evidences suggest that that the city of Agra is much more older than it is supposed to be. Khwaja Masud bid s'ad bin Salman mentions about Agra and its fort in his 'Diwan', a collection of poems. He wrote that after a tough fight with Jaipal, the Amir of Agra, Mahmud Shah who was the governor of Hind invaded the Fort of Agra in 1080-81. Undoubtedly, the fort must have been built sometime earlier than the mentioned time frame. There are other records that confirm the existence of this old brick fort on the bank of River Yamuna, which was in ruins at the time of Akbar. Akbar found it in ruins and rebuilt in red sandstone, which stands to this date and is known as Agra Fort. This reconstruction activity has found its mention in the memoirs of Jehangir and the three eminent historians of those times including Sheikh Abul Fazal, Mulla Abdul Qadar Badaoni and Khwaja Nizamuddin.
Agra During Modern Period
- In the times of Mughals, Agra was one of largest Subas out of the 12 provinces of their empire and encompassed Gwalior, Kalpi, Kannauj, Koil (Modern Aligarh), Narnaul and Alwar. Abul Fazl, the court historian of Akbar, describes Agra as a large city with a healthy climate, situated in the bank of River Yamuna. He has also mentioned the villas, gardens and red sandstone fort built by Akbar. Badaoni and Nizamuddin, the other two contemporary historians also describe the grandeur and splendor of the Mughal Agra. A church, an orphanage, a Christian cemetery and a college were built by a Jesuit father at Agra. In 1585, Ralph Fitch noted that Agra had much more population and larger dimensions than London, while Jehangir boasted in his memoirs that the number of the buildings here were equal to several cities of Iraq, Khurasan and Mawar-un-Nahr put together. Agra attracted English and Dutch, who established their factories here. The capital of Moghul India for nearly a century, it sports beautiful palaces and splendid royal mausoleums and tombs. Today, the city is more famous for Taj, the white-marble tribute of Shah Jahan to his beloved queen Mumtaz mahal. The other places worth visiting here speaking volumes about the splendor of thise days are Itmad-ud-Daulah's tomb enshrining graves of Nur Jehan's parents and Moti Masjid. However, if we take the monuments away, the city has lost it all.
History of Agra During Mughals
- Babur invaded Agra in 1526 after killing Ibrahim Lodhi, the last Sultan of the Delhi Sultanate in the first battle of Panipat and laid the foundation of Moghul dynasty. Humayun, his eldest son and successor, was bestowed with the responsibility to seize the treasury of Agra, which included rare diamonds such as the famous 'Kohinoor', presented to him by the king of Gwalior. Babur entered Agra on May 10, 1526. Babur introduced the first Mughal gardens in Agra and constructed a big baoli inside the fort, where he died in 1530. Agra remained the capital of Moghul for generations to come. Humayun was crowned the next emperor. After the Afghan ruler Sher Shah defeated Humayun at the battle of Chausa, Agra came under the rule of Brahmajit Gaur on his behalf. In the second battle of Panipat in 1556, the Mughal forces recaptured Agra. It was the golden period in the history of Agra. It became the center of art, culture, commerce and learning during the reign of Akbar and flourished under the reigns of Jehangir and Shanjehan. The thirty years of Shah Jehan's rule were comparatively peaceful and thus, his passion for architecture came to the fore and the world-famous architectural masterpieces were constructed including the Taj Mahal and the Moti Masjid. Agra's glory faded since Aurangzeb shifted his capital to Delhi but it will always be remembered as the city of Taj.
Agra Under Sikandar Lodi
- In 1192, northern and central India underwent great political upheavals. Chauhans were overthrown by the Turks. Great battles were fought. Agra was forgotten for a time being and no references to the city were found during the three centuries dominated by the reign of the slave dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate, Khaljis or Tughlaqs. If finally manages to find its mention during the reign of Syed Allauddin (1445-51) as a dependency of Biana. Later, Sikandar Lodi seized Agra and during his reign, the city flourished as an important cultural centre. However, the claims of Niamatullah, the chronicler of the Lodhi dynasty, that Sikandar founded the city are unacceptable, as it had been mentioned in earlier records. The only claim that could be justified was that Agra came to be known as the Shiraz of India during Sikandar Lodi's time. The mighty ruler died in the fort on 14th December 1517. Ibrahim Lodi, the son and successor of Sikandar, held the fort for 9 years before succumbing to the might of Mughals.