The history of Agra bears testimony to the city's glorious past. The early reference to the history of Agra can be traced in the famous epic Mahabharata where the city has been called "Agravana". Prior to this source, Agra was called the "Arya Griha" meaning the abode of the Aryans. The first person to refer the city with its present name was the famous Greco-Roman writer Ptolemy.
Agra was founded by Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king in the year 1475. In the year 1506, Sikandar Lodi started the reign of the Delhi Sultanate in Agra. The death of Sikandar Lodi made his son Ibrahim Lodi to ascend the throne. Later in 1526, the once capital of the Lodi's, Agra was captured by Babur, after defeating the Lodi's. Thus a long reign of the great Mughal rule started in the city. Agra became a major city for the Mughal Empire after the first battle of Panipat.
The rich historical facts of Agra are clearly reflected in the large number of historical monuments that abounds the city. All the great Mughal emperors were prolific commissioners of monuments and their architecture is the finest representation of this skill. Mughal architecture is rich in ornament, grand in its appearance and most at times overwhelming the architecture itself. Three UNESCO World Heritage sites find place in the city of Agra. These are, Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. During the reign of the Mughal kings like Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, the history of Agra reached its glorious peak.
The Agra district is situated in western Uttar Pradesh between 27.11' degree Latitude North and 78.0' degree to 78.2' degree Longitude East. Its Altitude is 169 meters above sea level. Agra is situated on the bank of Yamuna River.
Its borders touch Rajasthan to its west and south, the district of Firozabad to its East and the districts of Mathura and Etah to its North.
By Air: Agra's Kheria airport is barely 5 km from the city and is also known as Agra Civil Enclaves.
By Train/Rail: Agra is well connected to the entire country by rail. The major railway stations include Agra Fort Railway Station, Agra Cantonment Railway Station and Raja-ki-Mandi.
By Road: Agra boasts of three National Highways including N.H. No. 2, 3 and 11. The government and private bus services are available to and from Agra to all the nearby major destinations. U.P. Tourism also conducts special guided tours for the tourists, who come here just for a day, including Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Sikandra and Fatehpur Sikri in their itineraries.
From NCR: NH2, a modern divided highway, connects the 200 km (124 mi) distance from Delhi to Agra. Yamuna Expressway a 6-lane 165 km long expressway, a modern access controlled highway connects the 200 km (124 mi) distance from Delhi to Agra. The drive is about 2 hours. This highway has junction to Aligarh and Mathura via state highways.
NH 93 is a National Highway that connects Agra to Moradabad via Aligarh
Agra, located on the Indo-Gangetic plain has a humid sub-tropical climate, with long, hot summers from April to September when temperatures can reach as high as 45Â°C (113Â°F) and extremely cold winters with fog. During summers dry winds (loo) blow in this region. The monsoon months from July to September, Agra city receives heavy rainfall and the weather becomes humid.
Agra is a modern city with well established infrastructure like banks, hospitals, transport etc. Property is one of the growing sectors of the Agra's economy with a lot of malls, housing societies, educational institutions coming up. Agra city is known for its huge flourishing leather industry, carpet industry, handicrafts, Zari and Zardozi work, marble and stone carving and inlay work, garment manufacturing and export work and an automobile industry.
Agra boasts of a large number of market streets, shopping malls, luxury hotels and restaurants, schools, and many prestigious educational institutions like Dr B.R Ambedkar University (formerly Agra University), Dayalbagh Educational Institute, St. Johns College and one of the oldest medical schools in India- Sarojini Naidu Medical College.
The patronage of the Mughals was one of the most creative and richest periods in Indian history, it entrusted us with an outstanding wealth of secular and religious buildings. The long legacy of Mughal influence on the city of Agra can be witnessed in form of the remarkable constructions like the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra Fort, and Sikandra.
The old city with its congested, narrow lanes with shops, vendors, houses, and workspaces is a big hub of activities. Surrounded by numerous temples and mosques, the city is an interesting mixture of history and culture.
A vast area of the city is connected by narrow lanes of old market streets known as "mandis" that sold particular products or goods and were named accordingly like Hing Ki Mandi, Rui ki Mandi, Nai ki Mandi, and many more.
Agra is enriched with different cultural and traditional values. The city celebrates a plethora of cultural events and festivals on a large scale. Diwali, Dusshehra, Holi, Id, Ram Baarat are celebrated with great enthusiasm in the city.
The Kailash Fair, a huge fair celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva is held in the month of August/September. Ram Barat, part of Ramlila celebration in Agra is one of the biggest annual event in North India. A Baraat Marriage procession of Shri Ram is carried out every year in a new locality in the city with elaborate decorations, with lights & flowers.
Taj Mahotsav held in Shilpgram is a ten-day long festival that hosts an exhibition of crafts, arts, classical song and dance performances. A large number of Indian and foreign tourists coming to Agra join this festivity in the month of February.
Kalakriti Cultural and Conventional Centre is an art and cultural center in the city working to promote and celebrate the city's rich historic traditions through means of a cultural play: Mohabbat- the -Taj: The Saga of Love, along with other works of art displayed in the handicrafts showroom.
Once being a home of the Mughals, the city is widely famous for the Mughal cuisines like Kebabs, Kormas and curries that involve curd, cream, nuts, almond and selected spices.
The popular food item of Agra is the Pethas made from pumpkin is popular all over India. Dal moth is a kind of snack and also one of the specialties of the city along with Chaat- bhalla, kachori, samosas and gol gappas.
The people of Agra are a mix of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs and Sindhis. And some of the castes in Agra are the Jatavs, Baniyas and Jats. Agra is the birthplace of the religion known as Din-I-Ilahi, which flourished during the reign of Akbar and also of the Radhaswami Faith, which has around two million followers worldwide. The most widely spoken languages in Agra are Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and Braj. The traditional attire includes Sarees, Salwar-Kameez, Dhoti-kurta or Kurta-Pajamas, but with the advent of globalization there has been an inclination towards varied styles of clothing especially from the west.
Agra is world famous for the remarkable Taj Mahal that bears testimony to the rich artistic Mughal aesthetics. Attracting tourists from all over the world, it is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, and one of the three World Heritage Sites in Agra. Other important sites like the Itmad Ud Daula, Agra Fort, Sikandra, Fatehpur Sikri, Mariam's Tomb, Mankameshwar Temple, Guru ka Tal add to the rich architecture marvels of the city.
The city is famous for leather goods, beautiful carpets, gold and silver jewellery and handicrafts, such as zari zardozi, marble and stone carving and inlay work.
The city is also known for its popular sweets such as petha and gajak and savory snacks like dalmoth. The famous breakfast of Bedai Jalebi is a specialty of the city.