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.

Babar determined to establish the seat of his government at Agra, but was almost dissuaded by the desolate appearance of the country.  “It always appears to me,” he says, “that one of the chief defects of Hindustan is the want of artificial watercourses.  I had intended, wherever I might fix my residence, to construct water-wheels, to produce an artificial stream, and to lay out an elegant and regularly planned pleasure ground.  Shortly after coming to Agra I passed the Jumna with this object in view, and examined the country to pitch upon a fit spot for a garden.  The whole was so ugly and detestable that I repassed the river quite repulsed and disgusted.  In consequence of the want of beauty and of the disagreeable aspect of the country, I gave up my intention of making a charbagh (garden house); but as no better situation presented itself near Agra, I was finally compelled to make the best of this same spot....  In every corner I planted suitable gardens, in every garden I sowed roses and narcissus regularly, and in beds corresponding to each other.  We were annoyed by three things in Hindustan; one was its heat, another the strong winds, and the third its dust.  Baths were the means of removing all three inconveniences.”

As I have mentioned above, there are very few vestiges remaining of Babar’s city, of his fruit and flower gardens, palaces, baths, tanks, wells and watercourses.  The Ram Bagh (p. 92) is one of the gardens laid out either by himself or by one of his nobles, and the Zohra, or Zuhara Bagh, near it, contains the remains of a garden-house, which is said to have belonged to one of Babar’s daughters.  Opposite to the Taj there are traces of the foundations of the city he built.  Babar planned, and his successors completed, the great road leading from Agra to Kabul through Lahore, parts of which still remain.  Some of the old milestones can be seen on the road to Sikandra.  Babar’s account of the commencement of it is very characteristic:  “On Thursday, the 4th of the latter Rebia, I directed Chikmak Bey, by a writing under the royal hand and seal, [3] to measure the distance from Agra to Kabul; that at every nine kos he should raise a minar, or turret, twelve gez in height, on the top of which he was to construct a pavilion; that every ten kos he should erect a yam, or post-house, which they call a dak-choki, for six horses; that he should fix a certain allowance as a provision for the post-house keepers, couriers, and grooms, and for feeding the horses; and orders were given that whenever a post-house for horses was built near a khalseh, or imperial demesne, they should be furnished from thence with the stated allowances; that if it were situated in a pergunna, the nobleman in charge should attend to the supply.  The same day Chikmak Padshahi left Agra.”

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