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.
He was for a long time Akbar’s Prime Minister; he took a prominent part in the religious discussions inaugurated by the Emperor, and often discomfited the orthodox followers of Islam with his arguments.  Sheikh Mubarak drew up the famous document declaring Akbar to be the Head of the Church, and both his sons subscribed to it.  Abul Fazl declares that the document “was productive of excellent results:  (1) The Court became the resort of the learned men and sages of all creeds and nationalities; (2) Peace was given to all, and perfect tolerance prevailed; (3) the disinterested motives of the Emperor, whose labours were directed to a search after truth, were rendered clear, and the pretenders to learning and scholarship were put to shame.”

Notwithstanding his high character and generous disposition, Abul Fazl had many enemies at Court.  He was at last assassinated at the instigation of Jahangir, who believed him to be responsible for a misunderstanding between himself and his father.

There is nothing architecturally interesting about the two houses, which have been for some time used as a Zillah school.

* * * * *

Bharatpur and Other Places In the Vicinity of Agra.

There are some other places of considerable interest easily accessible from Agra, but it would be beyond the scope of this book to describe them in detail.

BHARATPUR.—­This place, which has been often alluded to, is the capital of a native state of that name, founded by the Jats under Suraj Mal about 1750.  The origin of the Jat race is obscure, but probably they are of Scythian descent.  Some authorities have put forward a theory that the gypsies of Europe and the Jats are of the same race.  They form a large proportion of the population of North-Western India.  Their religion varies with the locality, but the Jats who occupied Agra under Suraj Mal were Hindus.

In 1809, the fort at Bharatpur resisted for six weeks a siege by General, afterwards Lord Lake, who withdrew, after four desperate assaults.

The Palace of Suraj Mal is at Dig, twenty-one miles by road from Bharatpur.  It was commenced about 1725, and is the finest and most original of the Indian palaces of that period.  The Jat chief carried off to it a great deal of the loot from the Agra Fort.

GOVARDHAN.—­The tombs of Suraj Mal and his two Ranis are at Govardhan, a very picturesque place about eight miles from Dig.  There are also a number of very interesting tombs and buildings of later date.  Fergusson [17] says of one of these, which was in course of construction when he was there in 1839, that he acquired from its native architect more knowledge of the secrets of art as practised in the Middle Ages than he had learnt from all the books he had read.  The same living architectural art is practised all over Rajputana at the present day.  The preference we show for the incomparably inferior art of the mongrel eclectic styles we have imported into India, is only a proof that there is something wanting in the superior civilization and culture which we believe ourselves to possess.

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