A historical account of the city of Agra

A city with a heritage as rich as its rulers, a city that is synonymous with royalty is a story in itself. That, folks, is Agra for you. But one needs an eye to read between the cracks of walls and stones and dig for its stories.

Road to history

Agra is well connected and easily accessible from Delhi. You can travel from Delhi to Agra by car, which takes about 4 hours.

Agra anecdotes

The capital of Delhi and then the Mughal Empire, the city of Agra found its existence in 1504, when Sultan Sikander Lodhi established his reign on this town, on the banks of Yamuna. Eventually, in the Battle of Panipat, in 1526, Mughal emperor, Babur took over the state and ruled his kingdom from Agra. During his rule and under his patronage, Agra saw its golden years with grand architecture, and skillful artistry, which would become benchmarks for Indian art in the years to come. His first project was a public landscaped garden on the banks of Yamuna- or what we know as Aram Bagh.

Post Babur, such creative initiative skipped a generation, until Akbar took the onus of reinstating the prestige of the Mughal Empire in Agra, with his artistic vision and patronage. During his rule, Akbar laid the foundation of what is Agra Fort today. He also extended the influence beyond the city and built Fatehpur Sikri, with palatial monuments and grand constructions.

The empire capital was bejeweled with exquisite architecture, featuring fine stone carvings, marble works, and delicate ornamentation. The highlight of Agra’s history was when Shah Jahan gifted the city its most apprized and cherished monument – the Taj Mahal. With this marvel in marble, Agra became the most prized city, not only for the empire but for the entire country.  

The five generations of the Mughal Badshahs, marked the golden era of Agra’s history with contribution and benefaction from each of its ruler, adding to the rich heritage of the capital. Over the years, people from all over the world have come to experience the grandeur and magnificence of Agra’s remarkable past. Thus, making it one of the most visited historical city in the world.

Monumental monuments

Today, the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and Fatehpur Sikri are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

Here’s a quick roundup of the most significant constructions of the Mughal Era, the traces of which still linger in the 21st century.

Taj Mahal

There are no words that can describe this monumental mausoleum of love. 22 years and 20000 workers contributed to this portrayal of pride and unparalleled artistry with Persian, Turkish and Indian influence. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal leaves its visitors spellbound every time.

Fatehpur Sikri

About 37Km from the city of Agra sits the historic, religious and legendary city of Fatehpur Sikri. It’s foundation dates back to 16th century when Akbar built this city in honor of the revered Saint Salim Chisthi. Legends are that Akbar sought the saint’s blessings in pursuit of heirs and in turn, was gifted with three sons. The city was built as a sign of gratitude of the benevolent emperor.

Agra Fort

Another edifice of grandeur, built under Emperor Akbar’s patronage, the Agra Fort stands tall since 1565 as a witness to 500 years of India’s modern history. Made with red sandstone and white marble, this big crimson structure overlooking the Yamuna River, is a sight you cannot miss, especially, in the golden hues of the twilight sky.

As far as history is concerned, Agra still holds its fort of pride, legacy, and heritage. Though its golden era is a matter of past, it has left traces in its air, which you can sense in every corner of this city. For a comfort, convenience, and safety, you can rent a chauffeur-driven car with Savaari Car Rentals and make your journey of 233 Km rather enjoyable.

A day tour by cab in Lucknow

Immerse yourself in luxury as you travel like a Nawab in Luxury Cab

If you wish to witness the rich Indian culture, art, music, and poetry in its true sense, or you are just a foodie who can’t resist trying spicy as well as delicious local delicacies, Lucknow is just the right place for you to visit. Known for its authentic Ittars (perfumes) and richly crafted handicrafts, you’ll  be able to find something of your choice in Lucknow. The state capital of Uttar Pradesh is an underrated tourist location, but once you get to visit this royal place, you’ll find that the city has a lot more to offer than the usual that travel guides will tell you. And the best way to experience the royal vibe of Lucknow is to travel in a luxury cab. A wise man once said that the right way to know about the place is neither listening to the experiences of the people, nor the stories that you hear, but to visit that place by yourself. So all you need to do is book one of the full day/ half day cabs in Lucknow and begin your own quest of discovering something new.

Lucknow was made famous by the Nawabs of Avadh, who fostered the dance and the music culture amongst the people. The best time to see the largest city of India is from January to March and then from October to December. The weather is just fine in Lucknow during these months. Lucknow has many small and big places to see, and the best way to visit each of them is to book a radio taxi in Lucknow.

 

Top tourist spots

Image source: Wikipedia

Some of the top tourist spots include Bara Imambara, Rumi Darwaza, Husainabad Clock Tower and Sravasti. Whether you are looking for a budget trip or you are planning a luxurious one, the place has so much to offer in both the cases. A lot of mid-range to budget accommodation options are available for people to stay and most of them are located in the vicinity of the Charbagh Railway Station.

A dream destination for foodies

Image source: Wikipedia

The individuality and distinctiveness of the cuisine are well known throughout India. You just can’t miss the chance of having the lip-smacking range of local dishes of Lucknow which include Kormas, Sheermal, Warqi paranthas. There is a whole range of kebabs which includes Shami Kebabs, Boti Kebabs, Patili-ke-Kababs, Ghutwa Kebabs and Seekh Kebabs from which you can pick your own favorite.

The specialty of the dishes lies in the ingredients as well as the way they are crafted and presented by the experienced chefs. The list doesn’t end here, Royal Café which is located in Hazratganj is known for its special Aloo Tokri Chaat. If you love Dahi Bhallas, you must head to Chapan Bhog at Sadar Bazar. The other eminent food joints are Bajpayee Ki Kachori, Ratt Lal, Raj & Raj.  For the love of baked food and authentic desserts, you must plan a visit to the JJ Bakers at Hazratganj and have a bite of the delightful coconut cookies there.

For Biryani lovers, here is a place with the name Dastarkhwaan situated in Gomti Nagar which serves authentic Biryani. Other options where you can head to for Biryani are Wahid at Aminabad Chowk and Idris. Those who enjoy desserts, Prakash Kulfi and Dayal prepare the most delicious Kulfi in Lucknow and both of the shops are present in Aminabad. Local cabs in Lucknow run during the whole day and you can hire a cab to reach these places which are located in the core of Lucknow. Online cab booking in Lucknow is very easy and you can get the best suitable cab for you at a reasonable price. For the lovers of non-vegetarian food, Wahid at Aminabad serves the best Mutton Chaap and Naushijaan at Hazratganj serves the juicy Masala Chicken. Your stomach will get full but your taste buds will never get over the tasty and tempting food. Also, if you are visiting Lucknow you have to try the Special Malai Pan and Chandrakala from Chappan Bhog and Ramasrey and Malai Gilori at Hazratganj and Ramashrey Chowk respectively.

 

Things you must do in Lucknow

There is a lot to do and see while you make your visit to Lucknow. Radio taxi in Lucknow can take you to all the renowned places as the drivers usually know about the top tourist attractions of the place. To prepare you a bit before you make your visit to the land of Nawabs, here are some things that you must do and places that you must visit while you are in Lucknow.

A visit to Oudhyana

On the top of the list lies the Oudhyana, where Chef Nagendra Singh awaits you, to tempt you with the Lucknow’s famous Awadh cuisine crafted in his own signature manner. Bara Imambara is acclaimed for its highly exceptional corridor structure on the first floor of the building.

Image source: Wikipedia

The exceptional Rumi Darwaza

You can catch the sight of the exceptionally curated copy of an entrance gate in Istanbul in Lucknow and it is eminent by the name Rumi Darwaza. Established just beyond the Bara Imambara, the colossal Rumi Darwaza is known to be built in the 1780s by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula. It easily catches the sight of the people due to its highly unusual structure.

All about calligraphy and precious stones

Acknowledged by its intricate calligraphy adorning the walls of the tomb, Chota Imambara was built by Mohammad Ali Shah, who was later buried in the tomb, alongside his mother in 1832. The silver throne of Mohammad Ali Shah and his red crown are still put on a display in the tomb for the visitors to see. Tazia, which is a replica of the tomb of Mohammad Ali Shah’s son Husain, is also present in the tomb.

Experience royalty at the Royal Café

Royal Café is an excellent café where you can easily reach by hiring a local taxi and it’s well-known for its royal demeanor and the extremely popular Chaat stand in front of the café.

The famous Lucknow Mahotsav

If you are one of those who makes elaborate plans before leaving for vacation, you must schedule your travel during the days of Lucknow Mahotsav which is a 10-day long festival and it brings out the true Nawab spirit during late November. A lot of plays, Ghazal, and Kathak events are carried out by the experts in this festival.

 

Reaching Lucknow to Kanpur by cab and the comparison of fare

Lucknow is readily connected to all the major locations and you can easily board a cab to reach anywhere from Lucknow. Boarding a one-way taxi from Lucknow to Kanpur is really easy and you can book your cab either online or by visiting any taxi stand in Lucknow. The cab will reach your pick up point and easily pick you up and drop you to your desired drop location anywhere in Kanpur. It is the definitely the best option for the travelers who need to travel one way only from any point in Lucknow to Kanpur. The cab fare is quite feasible and perhaps it is the best way to see the place in its true sense.

Exploring India’s Holy Cities: Varanasi

Varanasi, considered the holiest city in India, is situated on the banks of river Ganga and is a pilgrimage site for Hindus mainly due to the city’s long-standing history. Banaras, as it is referred to by the locals is the oldest living city in the world. This sacred city is famous for hundreds of ghats and a single belief that one can attain ‘Moksha’ if they die in Varanasi. If you are looking for a blend of pilgrimage and vacation, then Varanasi is the ultimate destination for your next holiday.

Over the years, Banaras has turned into the centre of the Indian culture and heritage that draws tourists from around the world. To experience the local culture it is must for every traveller to witness few of the many festivals like Ganga Mahotsav, Maha Shivaratri, and Durga Pooja which are celebrated with great enthusiasm.

When it comes to places that you must see in Varanasi, ghats top the list. There are about 80 to 90 ghats located in Varanasi, and each one is unique in its own right. Dashashwamedh Ghat is distinct amongst the holiest ghats on the banks of River Ganga, mainly because of the Ganga Aarti that is performed there. Few other ghats that you cannot afford to miss are Chet Singh Ghat, Assi Ghat, and Manikarnika Ghat.

There are many temples in Varanasi that you should visit. Kashi Vishwanath Temple is considered one of the holiest temples not just in Banaras but in the world. A few other temples that should be visited are Tridev Temple, Durga Temple, Annapurna Temple, and Sarnath Temple. Ramnagar Fort that was built for the Maharaja of Banaras in the 18th century has a museum that displays a variety of ancient and antique traditional items that are worth witnessing. If you’re planning on including the different ghats and Ramnagar Fort in your itinerary in a single day, we recommend you book a cab to get around in the city. People in Varanasi still indulge in wrestling, so a visit to one such traditional Akhada will help you understand the sport and all the hard work that goes into the sport.

Apart from religious sites and other landmarks, if you are a creative person then visiting a handloom will give you a better idea on how those thin threads are transformed into beautiful patterns. It is highly recommended that you also visit the silk factories to see the silk been spun and artistic items made out of it. Be sure to buy the exquisite Baranasi silk in the form of sarees or other fabrics.

You can also enjoy the boat ride along the Ganga River. The best time to experience the ride is either dusk or dawn. When in the narrow lanes of Banaras, don’t forget to pamper your taste buds with the hot Jalebis, Samosas, Kachoris, Rasmalais and Banarasi pan. The street food in Varanasi is an absolute must-do for any traveller visiting the city for the first time.

Visiting Varanasi in summers is not advisable due to high temperatures. The best time to visit is at the onset of winter between November to March when the temperatures are amicable. The renowned Ganga festival takes place in November where you can witness the city at its spiritual best. Varanasi has its own airport so you need not worry about transportation if you intend to travel by air. If you’d like to explore towns and go sightseeing around Varanasi, book a Savaari cab. Varanasi has a good connectivity to other metro cities with frequent private and government buses available to and from Varanasi. Tourists can rent a cab to discover the city and to visit places such as Sarnath outside the city.

Happy Vacationing!

Famous arts and handicrafts from Uttar Pradesh

India has been blessed with artists who create finest of handicrafts that are renowned across the world. Uttar Pradesh is no different with artists and artisans specialised in different forms of art from Agra to Varanasi. Mughals ruled major parts of UP for over two centuries which impacted the artwork. The Nawabs were believed to have great taste and appreciation of art which led to further development of the craftsmanship in the region. Even today UP is home to several different handicrafts which are exported across the nation and the world. If you’re in Lucknow, you’re in for a treat – the bazaars in the city will give you a bird’s eye view of all the beautiful handicrafts that Uttar Pradesh has to offer. Be sure to book a taxi in Lucknow and explore all the bazaars.

Chikan Work

Chikan work has a long history that goes back to the early third century during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya. Chikan literally means embroidery, but the Chikan work involves 36 different types of stitches. It is a multistep process, with the first step being cutting of the cloth as per the desired shape. It is followed by block printing the core design on which the artist would complete the embroidery. Later, it is washed to remove the ink of the printed pattern. Some of the most common stitches include the Jali, Tepchi, Murri, Pashni, and Khatao.

 Zardozi Work

The existence of Zardozi goes even far beyond the kings to the times of Rigveda. Yes, the art is that old. Zardozi entails metal embroidery using silver and metal threads. The process is quite complicated and involves numerous tools. The craftsman works around a wooden frame with his tools which include needles, hooks, glass & plastic beads, gold wires, silver wires, and threads. In UP, you can buy products such as coats, dresses, sarees, pants, etc. with Zardozi work on it, of course, minus the gold or silver embroidery.

Meenakari Work

Meenakari work is a Persian art that was introduced in India by Mughal invaders. Predominantly seen in Rajasthan in combination with other artwork, it is also practised by artisans in Varanasi. The artisans who practice the art are known as Meenakars, and it is passed down from one generation to another. Coming back to the art, it involves engraving ornaments with coloured enamels to create an appearance of a complete picture. The final jewellery goes through a chain of artisans which complete one task and hand it over for the next step. The Meenakars are part of this chain who make intricate designs and fill it with colours.

Zar Buland work


https://www.flickr.com/photos/wikimediacommons/16244296450Image source: Flickr

Zar Buland work was developed in Lucknow by introducing variations in existing Bidri work of Karnataka. It is an art of coating one metal over another resulting in a beautiful finished product. The designs in Zar Buland work are above the surface as opposed to Bidri work where it is inlaid. The process as in every artistic work is long and involves steps such as moulding, polishing, carving, engraving, and darkening. The Zar Buland work is still famous in the Lucknow, and you can buy souvenirs at a decent price.

Attar

India has been a prime producer of natural fragrances including Attar, also known as Ittar ever since civilisation began. Attar is a scented oil that is derived from plants via distillation and then adding it to sandalwood oil which acts as a base. This mixture is then aged for a period varying from a few months to several years. The town of Kannauj in UP is the present perfume capital of India that is trying to keep the art alive while fighting the competition from modern fragrance makers. When you in UP, buy few bottles of attar to keep a civilisation old Indian tradition alive.