Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur are three cities in northern India that have a rich history and contain many historic buildings and monuments. They also form one of the major tourist circuits in the country. Delhi has a long history, being the capital of Hindu and Moslem dynasties, the Mughals, the British and now the Indians. Agra and its surrounding area contain many superb monuments built by the Mughal emperors. Jaipur was built by the Rajput warriors after the decline of the Mughal empire and contains many palaces and interesting structures. On my two trips to India in July/August 1988 and April 1995 I visited this area. In 1988 I visited Delhi and did a day trip to Agra, while in 1995 I did a four day circuit of the three cities. Some of my photographs of the main sights of these cities are included below. Click on the thumbnails to see larger images:

Humayun's Tomb

Humayun's Tomb - Delhi. Humayun was the second of the great Mughal emporers. His tomb was completed in 1565 and is an early example of Mughal architecture. It is built mostly out of red sandstone, except for the marble dome. The mausoleum stands amid spacious lawns and gardens enclosed by large walls, a predecessor to the Taj Mahal.

Qutab Minar
Qutab Minar - Delhi. The Qutab Minar is a 73 metre high stone tower which was started in 1199 and completed in the middle of the 14th century to commemorate the Islamic victories in northern India. It is one of the earliest monuments to the Afghan period in India. Arabic quotations are intricately carved in stone on the tower. The tower tapers from a 15 metre diameter base to 2.5 metres at the top. The tower was one of the tallest structures in the world for centuries and still stands unscathed, apart from a slight tilt caused by an earthquake.

Agra Fort
Agra Fort. Agra, the former Mughal capital, is situated 200 km south of Delhi. Agra Fort is a huge complex which contained the residences, palaces and courtyards of the emperors Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. The huge red sandstone walls of the fort measure one and a half miles in circumference and are 70 ft high and surrounded by a 40 ft moat. Many of the earlier buildings inside were built of red sandstone, but many of these were demolished by Shah Jahan who replaced them by a series of marble palaces and mosques. The fort overlooks the Jamuna River and the Taj Mahal in the distance.

Itmad-ud-daulah - Agra. This small mausoleum is the tomb of the father of one of the Mughal emperesses. The tomb was completed in 1628 and was a forerunner of the Taj Mahal as it was the first Mughal building constructed entirely of white marble. Its marble surface is almost completely covered by inlaid semi-precious stones, another feature of the Taj.

Sikandra. Sikandra is the tomb of Akbar and is situated about 10 km north of Agra. The tomb was started by Akbar and completed by Jehangir, hence the mixture of architectural styles and materials throughout. The mausoleum lies in the centre of a large garden. Some of the resident monkeys there are quite smart in grabbing food from the tourists, as we found out.

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal - Agra. This marble tomb was built by Shah Jahan for his wife, who died giving birth to his 14th child. It took 22 years to build and was finally completed in 1653. 20000 people worked on the building. The Taj is located on the banks of the Jamuna River and is surrounded by lawns, gardens, pools and mosques. It is one of the wonders of the world and one of the best things I have ever seen. As well as being perfectly proportioned, the other main feature of the building is the marblework and inlaid semi-precious stones.

Taj Mahal The Taj Mahal close up. The building is very big. Up close you can see the detail of the semi-precious stones inlaid into the marble in various patterns. Inside the building are the tombs of Shah Jahan and his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The real tombs are located in a basement while the tombs visible in the main room are replicas.

Fatephur Sikri
Fatephur Sikri. This former capital of the Mughal empire lies 40km west of Agra. The city was built by Akbar as his capital but was abandoned after only fifteen years, probably due to lack of water. The red sandstone buildings are perfectly preserved, and consist of palaces, courtyards, tombs and mosques. This is one of the main monuments of the Mughal empire that needs to be seen.

Marble screen
This carved marble lattice screen forms one of the walls on the tomb of Shaikh Salim Chishti at Fatephur Sikri. The screen is carved from a single piece of marble. Apparently Akbar was without a male heir and made a pilgrimage to this site to see the saint Shaikh Salim Chishti, who foretold the birth of Akbar's son Jehangir. Afterwards Akbar transferred his capital to this site in gratitude and constructed the city we see today.

Palace of the Winds Palace of the Winds - Jaipur. This five storey building was built in 1799 as a place for women of the royal household to watch everyday life and processions in the city without being seen. The building is only a few feet in depth and painted pink like most other buildings in central Jaipur. Jaipur is a city of 1.5 million people and is the capital of Rajasthan. The city was planned and started by Maharajah Jai Singh II in 1727, due to the cramped conditions at Amber and following the decline of the Mughal empire.

Amber Palace Amber Palace. This palace is situated in the surrounding hills about 10 km north of Jaipur and was the capital of the Rajputs prior to their move to the plains and the construction of Jaipur. The palace is situated on the top of a hill overlooking the surrounding plains. Tourists are taken up to the palace on the backs of elephants.

Jantar Mantar Jantar Mantar - Jaipur. Maharajah Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur, was very interested in astronomy and designed and built his own astronomical instruments and observatories in Jaipur, Delhi, Varanasi and other places. The Jaipur observatory is still intact and contains 16 instruments. This photo shows the 30 metre high Samrat Yantra, the largest sundial in the world.

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