A Handbook to Agra and the Taj eBook

Ernest Binfield Havel
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 98 pages of information about A Handbook to Agra and the Taj.

One of Jahangir’s wives, a Hindu princess of Jodhpur, hence known as Jodh Bai, lived in this part of the palace, and the room on the west side of the quadrangle, surrounded by a number of oblong niches, is said to have been her temple, in which the images of Hanuman and other Hindu deities were kept.

On the roof of the Jahangiri Mahal there are two fine pavilions; also a number of cisterns, which supplied the palace with water.  In the side of one of them there are a number of pipe-holes, lined with copper, over each of which is a circular stone label inscribed with the part of the palace to which it gave a supply.

The Salimgarh.

On the rising ground behind the courtyard of the Diwan-i-am there formerly existed a palace called the Salimgarh.  Before Jahangir’s accession he was known as Prince Salim, and tradition associates this palace with him.  Fergusson, however, states that in his time an exquisite fragment of a palace built by Shere Shah, or his son Salim, existed here.  The Salimgarh at Delhi is named after the son of Shere Shah, Salim Shah Sur, who built it, and there is some doubt as to which of the two Salims gave his name to the Salimgarh at Agra.  Akbar’s Fort is known to have been built to replace an older one (known as the Badalgarh) by Salim Shah Sur, but it is quite possible that a part of the palace may have been left, and retained the name of its founder.

The only part of the Salimgarh which now remains is a large two-storied pavilion in front of the barracks.  The upper half of the exterior is carved with extraordinary richness.  The style of design certainly indicates the period of the Jahangiri Mahal and Akbar’s buildings at Fatehpur Sikri, rather than Shere Shah’s work.

The Jami Masjid.

Nearly opposite to the Delhi Gate of the Fort is the Jami Masjid, or Cathedral Mosque, built by Jahanara, Shah Jahan’s eldest daughter.  It is in the same style as the splendid mosque built by Shah Jahan at Delhi, but far inferior in merit.  There is a tameness about the whole design very unusual in the buildings of this epoch.  The zig-zag striping of the domes is decidedly unpleasant.

An inscription over the main archway states that it was completed in the year 1644 A.D. a cost of five lakhs of rupees.

The Taj

Arjumand Banu Begam the favourite wife of Shah Jahan, is better known by her other name, Mumtaz Mahal ("the Crown of the Palace").  Her father was Asaf Khan, who was brother of the Empress Nur Mahal, Jahangir’s wife.  She was thus the granddaughter of Itmad-ud-daulah, Jahangir’s Prime Minister, whose tomb, on the opposite bank of the river, will be described hereafter.

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A Handbook to Agra and the Taj from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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