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Agra History

Agra tourism Agra is a historical city on bank of river Yamuna. It lies in western part of Uttar Pradesh state in North India. Due to presence of world famous Taj Mahal, it is very well known among people in the world. It is counted among larger cities of state. It has very important place in Indian history as it remained a major power center till many centuries, during Mughal dynasty era. They ruled over major part of ancient India and declared Agra as their capital thus it remained an important political power-center of India. Period of Mughal rule in India was of approx. 300 years and this period was considered as golden-era of Agra city in which it has received major progress and importance. Work done in this period was remarkable and become identity of city. Many important political decisions were taken in this city which has changed the history of India. Its glorious history can be understood by visiting Agra to see large number of historical monuments, scattered through the city, especially Old Agra city area. Some of these monuments are in ruined condition, waiting for restoration but some of the monuments are kept in very well maintained condition. Here we have discussed about Agra history in which we have shared important historical information, incidences, events and turning points of this city.

Early History
First reference of Agra, in Indian history comes in pre-Mahabharata period when Aryans mentioned this region as "Aryagriha" means "Home of Aryans". During Mahabharata period, it was mentioned as "Agraban". This region was more forested and Mathura was powerful kingdom, close to it. Till that time, Agra was not even developed as proper township. Its first major reference came in year 1475 when Raja Badal Singh decided to develop it and made fortified structure in Agra city. In that time, it was named as "Badalgarh". After this, Sikandar Lodi (1489-1517) gained prominence and become "Sultan of Delhi". Here recognized the strategical importance of Agra and decided to develop it as his capital. In year 1504, he shifted his capital from Delhi to Agra. Badalgarh fort was renamed as "Agra Fort". Today's Agra Fort is upgraded version of that fort. During this period, Agra faced severe earthquake in year 1505, causing massive damage of city. Sikander Lodi ruled till 1517. After his death, his son Ibrahim Lodi took charge and ruled till 1526 when first battle of Panipat took place between Ibrahim Lodi and Babur. During that time Babur was ruler of Kabul (now in Afganistan). He was invited to this attack, by Daulat Khan Lodi, uncle of Ibrahim Lodi and was governer of Lahore. When he judged threat to his governorship, he took help from Babur by inviting him to attack on Delhi to remove Ibrahim Lodi from power. Battle took place in plains of Panipat and called "First battle of Panipat" in which Ibrahim Lodi was killed and Babur laid first foundation of Mughal dynasty. His aide Daulat Khan Lodi, received nothing from this win and died in imprisonment. Till beginning of this war, Agra was already in control of Babur. Mughals ruled from 1526 till 1540, when Mughal emperor Humayun was defeated by Sher Shah Suri who laid foundation of Sur dynasty. He was badly injured in ammunition depot explosion, in year 1545, during seizure of Kalinjar Fort, located at Baghelkhand region of Central India. Till winning of Kalinjar fort, Sher Shah Suri died. After his death, his son Islam Shah took over charge and gained massive wealth from win of Kalinjar fort.

Mughal Rule
Agra remained under the rule of Sur dynasty till 1556 when Islam Shah Suri was defeated by Humayun in war and re-established Mughal rule in India. From this point, Mughals tighten their grip over India and relentlessly ruled for next 300 years. After Humayun, Akbar took charge and increased the boundaries of Mughal kingdom. During this period, many heritage monuments, tombs, palaces were developed in Agra. It was Emperor Akbar when first complete township was developed near Sikri village, 40kms south-west of Agra and named as "Fatehpur Sikri". Akbar shifted Mughal capital from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri from 1571 to 1585. Due to water crises and political unrest in North-West India, capital was again shifted from Fatehpur Sikri. It is ruling period of Akbar, when Agra fort was re-constructed by using brick in wall-core and red-sand-stones in outer crust. Today's Agra Fort is the same one. After Akbar's death, throne was succeeded by fourth emperor Jahangir who ruled from 1605 to 1627. Akbar's body was buried in Sikandra, where a massive mausoleum was constructed. It is a currently a popular tourist attraction. After Jahangir term, his son Shah Jahan took charge and ruled from 1627 to 1658 when he was dethroned by his son Aurangzeb. It was Shah Jahan reign, during which world famous Taj Mahal was constructed in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Its construction begun from 1632 and fully completed till 1653. He was lover of art and poetry. Shah Jahan was succeeded by his son Aurangzeb who ruled from 1658 till 1707. He was mighty ruler who consolidated Mughal rule and ruled aggressively. He was strict administrator and was intolerant towards other religions. During his reign, Mughal dynasty continues to expand by winning more areas of South India. Till Aurangzeb, Mughals expanded their territories but later rulers are not much competent and thus his death was the turning point for Mughal dynasty. After his death, their fall begun and continues generation after generation and later Agra came in control of Maratha forces.

Post Mughal Era
After death of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, growth of Mughal kingdom restricted as coming generations were not much competent and most of the time they remain busy in their internal conflicts for which Mughal dynasty is well known. Whole Mughal dynasty has bloody history in which bother killed his own brother for sake of power and kingdom. Passing of power from one hand to another hand was filled with killer conflicts, conspiracies, wars etc. This trend weaken the roots of Mughal empire and rulers spends more time in saving their throne rather than thinking of extending boundaries of their kingdom. Taking advantage of situation, many governors declared themselves independent and other regional power gained prominence. In this time, Maratha kingdom gain prominence and extended their limits towards Central and North India. They seize power in Delhi and Maratha Governor was appointed in Agra. Later in year 1764, Agra slipped from their hand and Jat ruler Maharaja Surajmal of Bharatpur taken control over Agra. Maratha again fought back and conquered Agra in year 1770. It was the time when East India Company of Britain, was gaining prominence in India. Taking advantage of division among Indian rulers, they were gaining prominence in terms of business and political power in India. Till 1803, British forces defeated Scindia and Agra was completely in hand of British India forces. They established headquarter of Lieutenant-governor of North-Western province. They continue to rule at Agra till Indian became independent country. Till year 1950, Agra was declared part of Uttar Pradesh state.

Post Independence
In this period, Agra regained its importance and progressed. Due to closeness from Delhi, capital of India, Agra emerged as Industrial city of Uttar Pradesh with many small scale industries. At the same time, popularity of Taj Mahal made Agra a prominent place in tourism map of India. In year 1983, Agra fort and Taj Mahal, received the title of UNESCO World Heritage site. Later in year 1986, Fatehpur Sikri was included in list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. With the passage of time, connectivity of Agra has been improved and Agra tourism has played important role in development of Uttar Pradesh Tourism. Almost all first time tourists, includes Agra tour in their tour plan.

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