Agra is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is located 200 kilometers south from national capital New Delhi. With a population of 24,26,000 (Agra metropolitan area). It is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 41st most populous city in India. The city is a part of Brijbhoomi, “the land associated with the birth and legendary activities of Lord Krishna”. 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 Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Period before Islamic Rulers
Agra has a rich historical background. The earliest reference for Agra comes from the epical age, when Mahabharata refers Agra as ‘Agravana’ meaning paradise in Sanskrit or 'the border of the forest'. In the sources prior to this, Agra has been referred as Arya Griha or the abode of the Aryans. The Greek astronomer, mathematician and geographer Claudius Ptolemy who lived in the 2nd century AD in the city of Alexandria in the Roman province of Egypt, is believed to be the first person to refer to the city of “Agra” by its modern name in his well-known work ‘Geographia’ (The Geography).

Legend ascribes the founding of the city to Raja Badal Singh (around 1475), whose fort, Badalgarh, stood on or near the site of the present Fort. However, the 11th century Persian poet Mas'ud Sa'd Salman writes of a desperate assault on the fortress of Agra, then held by the Shahi King Jayapala, by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni.

Under the Lodhi Dynasty
The first Muslim Rulers of Agra were the Lodhi Dynasty. Sultan Sikandar Lodhi was the first to move his capital from Delhi to Agra in the year 1504, he died in 1517 and his son Ibrahim Lodhi remained in power here for nine more years, Agra by this time started to flourish steadily as a human settlement. The hold of the Lodhi Dynasty in Agra came to an end finally after being defeated at the Battle of Panipat against Babur, the first Mughal ruler in India in 1526.

The Mughal Era
The golden age of the city began with the Mughals. It was known then as Akbarabad and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under the Emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Since Akbarabad 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 Aram Bagh or the Garden of Relaxation. In 1530 when Babur died, he was succeeded by his son, Humayun. The rule was briefly interrupted by Sher Shah Suri, an Afghan ruler, who defeated Humayun and took over the city. He was a competent ruler, but his rule was short-lived. Humayun was succeeded by his son Akbar, who took the throne in 1558. It was during the reign of Akbar when Mughal
Architecture gained prominence in Agra. 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 Agra called Fatehpur Sikri. After death, Akbar was buried in Sikandra. His tomb is a beautifully built structure of Fine Mughal Architecture.

After Akbar's death in 1605, the throne was taken over by his son Jahangir, who paved the way for the British to set foot in Agra. Jahangir had a love of gardens and flora and fauna and laid many gardens inside the Red Fort or Lal Qila and the tomb of Itmad-uddaulah was added to the list of magnificent structures of the city.

Jahangir was followed by Shah Jahan, who took the architecture of the city to unparalleled heights. Though many structures like Chinika-Rauza, having a unique design with glazed tiles were constructed by Shah Jahan, it was the Taj Mahal, which rendered the city of Agra its current legendary status. Built-in the memory of Mumtaz Mahal, whose real name was Arjumand Banu Begum, Taj Mahal is made of beautiful White Marble and was completed in 1653.

Shah Jahan later shifted the capital to Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi) in the year 1648 during his reign, but his son Aurangzeb moved the capital back to Akbarabad, usurping his father and imprisoning him in the Fort there. Akbarabad remained the capital of India during the rule of Aurangzeb until he shifted it to Aurangabad in the Deccan in 1683.

Modern Agra
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 the Presidency of Agra was established by the British, but they made Calcutta the capital of Colonial empire.

Since India's independence, Agra has been a part of the state of Uttar Pradesh and gradually developed as an Industrial Town, educational hub and medical center. S. N. Medical College, Agra itself is honored with the prestige of being one of the first three Medical Schools of the country being established in year 1854 as Thomson Medical School.

Agra city is famous for the Leather Goods, Handicrafts, Zari Zardozi, Marble and Stone carving & inlay work. Agra is also well known for its sweets (Petha & Gajak) and Snacks (Dalmoth). The leather industry is among the most traditional and original industries of Agra. The footwear industry in Agra is renowned for leather products especially leather shoes. Agra fulfils 65% of the domestic demand and accounts for 28% footwear export from India. So, while in Agra do not forget to grab a pair of handcrafted leather shoes from Agra.



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