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Weekend Getaways From Chandigarh to Agra
Indian heritage sites are highly sought by tourists for their vacations, as it allows them to come across various facts related to the culture and heritage of the country. Majestic monuments and nearby sightseeing places are showcase of India’s rich history, which presents the country’s frequent invasions by outside rulers. Majority of the impressions were created in the medieval era, when the Mughal emperors ruled the county and some of the states were under the rule of Indian kings. One such important city, which rose to prominence during the Mughal era, is that of Agra, which is presently located about 363 kms from Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh, in which the city is located towards the northern side. Situated about 200 kms from the Indian capital city of Delhi, the town of agra is frequented by thousands of tourists every day, mostly because of the rich heritage and cultural monuments, which clearly showcase the era of Mughals in India. it is not surprising that in this city alone, there are three sites, which have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Agra is one of the most populated cities in India, with a history that is more majestic than any other city. Till the 15th century, various Indian rulers had their presence in the city of Agra, with some anecdotes mentioning the region in the epic of Mahabharata. Most of the history is well documented after the annexing of the area by Sultan Sikander Lodhi in the beginning of 16th century, who moved his capital from Delhi to Agra. For a few years after him, the city was under Ibrahim Lodhi, but in 1526, the Battle of Panipat happened, when Babur took away the city. In 1556, Hemu Vikramaditya received the city of agra as a gift, when he was the Prime Minister Cum Chief of Army of Adil Shah. In later years, he went on to become powerful enough and established the hindu kingdom of Vikramaditya in the North, declaring his coronation in Delhi. But in the 17th century, Akbar held the kingdom and renamed Agra as Akbarabad and Shah Jahan had his rule in later years. During his era, the most important structure of Agra, the Taj Mahal was built. Concentrating on the development of Akbarabad, many important buildings were constructed in the city by the Mughal rulers. Babar built the first garden named Aram Bagh along the Yamuna river. His grandson Akbar, was a big influence in the development of Agra as a centre for education, learning and commerce and built the Red Fort. In the outskirts, he started the construction of a new city, known as Fatehpur Sikri. Jehangir, was responsible for coming up with many gardens in the city, while Shah Jahan was a big connoisseur of architectural beauty. Although Shah Jahan shifted his capital to Delhi, it was again reshifted to Akbarabad by Aurangzeb, who imprisoned Shah Jahan in the Agra fort, from where he could see the Taj Mahal and breathed his last in this place. After the Mughals, the Marathas had some influence for a brief period on the city of Agra, later being taken over by the Britishers. During the early period of rule by British, Agra saw a lot of troop movements due to threats of rebellions and was the epicentre of the great famine in 1837-38. In the city, the buildings of Fatehpur Sikri, Agra Fort and Taj Mahal are declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Prior to the invasion of foreign rulers, particularly in the mythological era, it is considered that Agra city was part of the Brijbhoomi, which was associated with Lord Krishna.
Not only is Agra included in the country’s top tourist destinations, it is clearly a favourite among many tourists, who can take up the well known tour package of Golden Triangle, of which Delhi and Jaipur are two other destinations. Therefore, the communications to reach Agra are quite good for even those seeking weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Agra. By air, tourists can arrive at Agra by alighting at Kheria Airport, which is about 12.5 kms from the city centre, although services are provided by only a few airlines, which are moreover seasonal. But, in contrast, train and road services are quite frequent and provided from various cities in the north. Agra is situated in the central line from Delhi to Mumbai and many trains pass through the city on a daily basis. Agra is having three railway stations. Agra Cantonment is the main station of Agra, which is closer to the Taj and the Agra Fort. Agra Fort Railway Station is one of the oldest train stations in the country and has few interstate expresses stopping at the station. There are few other stations, from where the tourists can get down from the connecting trains and visit the places. From all the railway stations, which connect Agra, people will have auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws for commuting to the sightseeing places. Buses coming to Agra arrive at Idgah Bus Stand mostly, along with other major bus stops at Taj Depot, Ford Depot and Inter State Bus Terminus. Most of the larger cities in North India are connecting the city of Agra with road. Mahatma Gandhi Road is the major road that passes almost through the city, as a few major expressways in the north India have connectivity to Agra. Taxis and personal cars are easy ways for tourists to arrive in their weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Agra. These are possible to be hired in any city from where the trips to Agra can be undertaken.
Since the city of Agra is a popular destination for many tourists, it has a number of hotels and resorts, some of which belong to the well known groups of hotels. Budget hotels are found in plenty in the city of Agra, which are good options for travellers on a long tour. Moreover, there are options of lodges and home stay facilities for those who wish to avail the small range but comfortable stay places. Many of the large star hotels are found for those who wish to avail luxurious settings. Throughout the city, tourists can find suitable hotels and lodging, so that they can choose to stay in them and go about their sightseeing and excursions.
Agra’s two most incomparable sightseeing places are the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort. Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan, after his wife, Mumtaj Mahal passed away. The mausoleum is built with white marble with extensive inlay work and presents a sophisticated look, even during the day time. It is one of the largest tombs in the world and the white marble work has been done in such a way that it excels any architectural work, done till date by the Indian rulers. Not only is it an art in itself, it has become the subject of praise by various artists in form of poems, paintings and writings. Besides the main mausoleum complex, there are plenty of gardens surrounding the marble structure, along with water bodies, which further add to the beauty and charm of the place. Made out of red sandstone, the Agra fort is also a beautiful structure, similar to the Red Fort, which is located in Delhi, but this fort is quite well preserved. This structure was built by Akbar, immediately after getting on to the throne, while he constructed the Humayun’s tomb in Delhi at the same time. Further additions to the Agra Fort were made by Shah Jahan, with the fort providing extensive views of Taj Mahal. Mughal rulers were well known for their love for gardens and Agra has quite a lot of them. gardens of Agra, which are well known, include the Soami Bagh, Ram Bagh, which was the first garden in Agra, built by Babur, and the Mehtab Bagh, which was once a fertile piece of land across the Taj Mahal, on the other side of Yamuna River. Presently, efforts are on to reclaim the piece of land, by carrying out plantations in the bagh itself, so as to provide conservation to the Taj premises. Agra is also well known for the temples, which were built since the era before the mughals. There are about 5 well known shiva temples in the city, such as Balkeshwar Temple, Kailash Temple, Prithvinath Temple, etc. Tourists on weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Agra can also go for sightseeing of other places such as Sikandra, which is the tomb of Akbar, laid down inside a large garden. Itmad-ud-daulah’s tomb is one of the architectural beauties of the Mughal era, which is usually described as a jewel box, built by empress Nur Jehan for her father, who was the chief minister of Jehangir. It is also said to be a smaller Taj Mahal, due to the exquisite use of marble and the layout works. Mariam’s Tomb is also a tomb with beautiful designs, constructed by Jahangir, in memory of his mother, Mariam. Chini Ka Rouza is noted for the blue glazed tiles on top, while the beautiful Jama Masjid in agra is another beautiful structure.
Nearby tourist places
Lots of places around the city of Agra are somewhat related to the early life of Lord Krishna, such as Nandgaon, Barsana, Govardhan, Baldeo, Gokul, Mahavan, etc and all of these are along the banks of River Yamuna or near to Mathura. Many of them also have temples dedicated to Lord Krishna. Fables and anecdotes mark these regions and are visited by people who are on weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Agra. The most important site outside of Agra, which is usually in the top of the list of visitors, is Fatehpur Sikri, which is one of the three UNESCO World Heritage sites in the region of Agra. Created in red sandstone, the small township outside of Agra was the effort of Akbar to establish his capital away from Delhi. It remained his capital for about 10 years, but his sons shifted their capital of mughal empire back to Delhi and since then, it remained in an abandoned state. the Buland Darwaza of Fatehpur Sikri is a worth structure which leads into the impressive structure of this township. Jama Masjid is located inside the premises, which is one of the largest mosques of India. lots of palaces and courtyards mark the site. Bharatpur bird sanctuary is particularly famous among the bird watchers, which is about 50 kms away from Agra. Including the Siberian Crane, hundreds of species of birds are found in the region, many of which are rare migratory species. In Bharatpur, there is the presence of the Lohgarh, which was invincible and a well known site for the Rajput rulers. National Chambal Sanctuary is another natural sanctuary, where the endangered Indian Gharial and Ganges River Dolphin are found.
Agra has a semiarid climate, with mix of humid subtropical climate. Summers are hot and dry and winters have mild degree of temperatures. Monsoon is also not very heavy, due to which the tourist season can run throughout the year, although people usually avoid visiting on weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Agra during the summers. Best time to visit Agra is post monsoon and during winters.
Agra being a historic city has some well maintained traditional and royal modes of transport, such as tongas and cycle rickshaws, which are usually not found in many cities. Besides, there are electric buses and tempos for convenience of tourists. These are also good means of conveyance because of the restriction of cars near the Taj. Some people also like walking on the streets, so that they can have a firsthand view of the city and its life. Auto rickshaws are fairly available in the city of Agra, allowing tourists to move from one region to another quite easily. Those who wish to travel in comfortable air conditioner cars, there are various rental agencies, which allow the travel to nearby excursion places.
Famous food joints
Food in Agra is a speciality, reflecting the rich tradition of cuisine liked by the mughal kings and royal people. due to the huge inflow of tourists, the city hosts a number of restaurants, where delicacies of different varieties are served, although people can also have special dishes exclusive to Agra and Uttar Pradesh. The roadside eateries are well known for the chaat specialities, which are quite famous among the visitors as well as local people. most of the stalls serving chaat are having long queue of visitors, while many shops serve the typical sweet dish of petha, prepared in the region of Agra. Plenty of sweet stalls existing since many decades serve the best quality pethas, which are usually packed by tourists on weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Agra, for being gifted to people back home.