Agra ,the former capital of Hindustan, is a situated on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is 363 kilometres (226 mi) west of the state capital, Lucknow, and 200 kilometres (124 mi) south of the national capital New Delhi. With a population of 1,686,976 (2010 est.), it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most populous in India. Agra can also refer to the administrative district that has its headquarters in Agra city.
The city is mentioned in the epic Mahābhārata, where it was called Agrevaṇa ("the border of the forest").Legend ascribes the founding of the city to Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king (c. 1475), whose fort, Badalgarh, stood on or near the site of the present fort. However, the 11th century Persian poet Mas'ūd Sa'd Salmān writes of a desperate assault on the fortress of Agra, then held by the Shāhī King Jayapala, by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni.Sultan Sikandar Lodī was the first to move his capital from Delhito Agra in 1506.
He died in 1517 and his son, Ibrāhīm Lodī, remained in power there for nine more years, finally being defeated at the Battle of Panipat in 1526. Between 1540 and 1556, Afghans, beginning with Sher Shah Suri, and Hindu King Hem Chandra Vikramaditya (also called Hemu), ruled the area. It achieved fame as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1658. In the 18th century, it came under Jat rule. It is a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Tāj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpūr Sikrī, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Completed in 1653, the Tāj Mahal was built by the Mughal king Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his beloved wife, Mumtāz Mahal. Finished in marble, it is perhaps India's most fascinating and beautiful monument. This perfectly symmetrical monument took 22 years (1630–1652) of labour and 20,000 workers, masons and jewellers to build and is set amidst landscaped gardens. Built by the Persian architect, Ustād 'Īsā, the Tāj Mahal is on the south bank of the Yamuna River. It can be observed from Agra Fort from where Emperor Shāh Jahān gazed at it for the last eight years of his life, a prisoner of his son Aurangzeb. It is an acknowledged masterpiece of symmetry. Verses of the Koran are inscribed on it and at the top of the gate are twenty-two small domes, signifying the number of years the monument took to build. The Tāj Mahal was built on a marble platform that stands above a sandstone one. The most elegant dome of the Tāj Mahal has a diameter of 60 feet (18 m), and rises to a height of 80 feet (24 m); directly under this dome is the tomb of Mumtāz Mahal. Shah Jahān's tomb was erected next to hers by his son Aurangzeb. The interiors are decorated with fine inlay work, incorporating semi-precious stones.
Akbar, the Mughal Emperor , built Fatehpūr Sikrī about 35 km from Agra, and moved his capital there. Later abandoned, the site displays a number of buildings of significant historical importance. A World Heritage Site, it is often visited by tourists. The name of the place came about after the Mughal Emperor Bābar defeated Rāṇā Sāngā in a battle at a place called Sikri (about 40 km from Agra). Then the Mughal Emperor Akbar wanted to make Fatehpūr Sikrī his head quarters, so he built a majestic fort; due to shortage of water, however, he had to ultimately move his headquarters to Agra Fort.
Buland Darwāza or 'the lofty gateway' was built by the great Mughal emperor, Akbar in 1601 CE. at Fatehpūr Sikrī. Akbar built the Buland Darwāza to commemorate his victory over Gujarat. The Buland Darwāza is approached by 52 steps. The Buland Darwāza is 53.63 m high and 35 meters wide. it is made of red and buff sandstone, decorated by carving and black and white marble inlays. An inscription on the central face of the Buland Darwāza demonstrates Akbar's religious broadmindedness, it is a message from Jesus advising his followers not to consider this world as their permanent home.