| |AGRATheatre of the titansBy Sonia JabbarStrategically located at the heart of India in the rich alluvial plains between the great Ganga and Yamuna rivers, Agra was a vibrant religious and commercial centre for 3,000 years. But it matured and perfected itself only when the Mughals chose to make it their home. Agra became the grand theatre in which they played out the entire range of human emotions on a titanic scale: their loves and passions for which they could kill and be killed, their tremendous energy, their mercurial moods and lust for power which made them drive their armies across vast swathes of inhospitable lands. And yet they can hardly be dismissed as rapacious invaders, or indolent, sybaritic rulers. What elevated them into grand figures that dominated Indian history was not simply their ability to consolidate territory, but their grace, their compassion, refinement, love of nature and, above all, devotion to the arts. This is what has endured.
Among the legacies the Mughals bestowed, one emerged as India’s most enduring icon — the Taj Mahal. This monument to perfection sits by the Yamuna’s banks in the Mughals’ former capital, a short walk away from the red sandstone Agra Fort added to by three Mughal emperors, near the ruins of Akbar’s abandoned capital of Fatehpur Sikri. Across the river from the Taj lie the gardens laid out in remembrance of his Central Asian homeland by the founding Mughal, buried today under ever-growing Agra, and apathy.
|This article appears in Outlook Traveller Getaways’ Chennai Weekend Breaks . For more about the book, and more excerpts, click here.|