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Also known as the Gate of Heaven, this colossal gate located to the south of the Tomb of Akbar, serves as the main entry point to the complex. Made primarily of red sandstone, the entire gate is adorned with extremely intricate artwork in the form of inlaid white marble. Four towering marble minarets flank the rooftop corners of this gate adorned with Persian inscriptions. Emperor Akbar's renowned secular sensibilities come to the fore on the structure which contains symbolic representation of most major religions apart from Islam. The modest gate standing right before the Jahangir Gate, built in perfect symmetry to Akbar's Tomb, compels visitors to bow slightly when entering, thus automatically paying respect to the great emperor. One of the most beautifully designed gates amongst Mughal structures, the Jahangir Gate sets the perfect tone to explore the Tomb of Akbar, an architectural marvel.
Sikandra is a historic suburb of Agra which was created after the defeat of the Rajput king Badal Singh Chauhan at the hands of the Afghan ruler Sikandar Lodi. The suburb is most renowned for housing the complex comprising the monumental Akbar's Tomb. The location to build the tomb (sometimes the name Sikandra is attributed to the tomb itself) was selected by the great emperor himself. Among the sterling monuments within the complex are the regal Jehangir Gate, the magnificent Akbar's Tomb, the Kanch Mahal and the Lodhi Tomb. All of these are set within a lush charbagh or Mughal Garden as was customary with most of the Mughal tombs. At a short distance from the compound lies the Tomb of Mariam-uz-Zamani, one of emperor Akbar's three wives. This, along with the other monuments are some of the most beautiful historic structures in Agra.
A must-visit monument in the historic Sikandra would be the Tomb of Akbar. Envisioned by the Emperor himself in 1605, this mammoth five-story structure was designed combining Islamic, Buddhist and Rajasthani architectural elements. One of the highlights of the complex, apart from the tomb, is the courtyard which is covered with quadrilateral gardens. Paved with pathways, the gardens also comprises four water channels that, according to the Islamic beliefs, signify the rivers of paradise. Four floors of the tomb structure, made during Akbar's time, are of red sandstone whereas the fifth one was completed in marble by his son Jahangir. As observed in many of the tombs built during the Mughal era, the arched entrance gate of the main tomb comprises the 99 names of Allah in Arabic. Intricate inlays of marble, verses from the holy book Quran and stone carvings contribute to the design on the interior walls. The original tomb of Akbar, at the basement, lies in solace surrounded by white-washed walls that are devoid of any decoration or ornamentation. One of the earliest forms of Mughal architecture, the Tomb of Akbar is one of the major tourist attractions of the city.
One of the lesser known tombs, although a preserved heritage from the Mughal era, the Tomb of Sadiq Khan is located on the Agra-Delhi National Highway. Stop by on your return to the city from Sikandra to get a glimpse of the unique structure marked by an inverted lotus as its roof. The octagonal tomb is mounted on a square platform which can be seen from its gates. It was built as a final resting place of Sadiq Khan, who served during the reign of Shah Jahan and Jahangir, and also was the son-in-law of I'timad-ud-Daulah, whose tomb lies on eastern banks of Yamuna.
It's hard to imagine this historical monument standing out amidst the staunch urban landscape of Sanjay Place in Agra. Yet it stands there reminding everybody of the city's historic origins and grandeur. The gate, made up of red sandstone once served as an entry point for travelers from Delhi coming to Agra. Unlike the other grand gates at the Agra Fort or Taj Mahal, this gate which only has a sparse amount of decorative elements most likely served only a functional purpose.
A piece of Catholic heritage locked by the urban civilization, the premises of the Roman Catholic Cemetery seems to be unaffected by the hustle and bustle of the outside world. One of the oldest catholic cemeteries in North India, the cemetery has served as the final resting place of a number of European adventurers, soldiers and artisans. Surprisingly well maintained, visitors can read the names of the people buried at the cemetery by reading the tombstones which date back to the 17th and the 18th Century. Among these are the tombs of prominent people such as British adventurer John Mildenhall, Italian architect Jerome Veronio and lapidary Hortenzio Bronzoni. However, it is the modest yet an eye catching tomb of British Colonel John Hessing also known as Red Taj Mahal, stands-out from the rest of the tombs in the cemetery. Stop by for a glimpse of this heritage while on route to explore the historic suburb of Sikandra.
Though located close to the city center, the Roman Catholic Cemetery, perhaps, would have been ignored had it not been for the iconic Hessing's Tomb (Red Taj Mahal). Built in red sandstone by the wife of the British Colonel John Hessing as his final resting place, the tomb is a replica of the Taj Mahal of Agra, although miniature in size. Mounted on a platform, the tomb is marked by a bulbous dome on top of the main section with decorative chattris (umbrellas) on each corners. The decoration on the facade is simple and it comprises four arches surrounding a large central arched gateway which leads to the coffin. Although the tomb lacks the opulence and grandeur of the original monument, visitors can see the earnest intent of the soldier's wife. Encompassed by a well-maintained lush green garden, the Red Taj Mahal is a hidden gem amidst the urban setup of the city center.
Located amidst a residential colony in the Jyoti Nagar area in Agra, Jodhabai Ki Chhatri is a historical monument believed to be the tomb of Akbar's wife, Jodhabai. Reaching the monument presents a peculiar challenge as it's easy to lose your way in the labyrinthine lanes and alleys surrounding it. The red sandstone structure is rather modest in comparison to other royal monuments, but is nonetheless charming. The tomb sits on a rectangular plinth surrounded by a lush green lawn. Because of its proximity to the residential area surrounding it, the structure is only open for a few hours a day, so call ahead before visiting.