Agra, India

Saturday, June 15, 1929

Still no money from Calcutta which means none for five or six more days at the earliest for banks are closed for four days now. Between Hindu and Moslem holidays, the banks are closed (including Sundays) some 112 days or so a year. Now I shall have to remain in Agra six days, thus missing a trip to Darjeeling because of low funds.

Today wasn’t so bad—even felt cool in comparison to some we’ve had recently. 93° in our room, and in the sun 116° and still rising at noon. Rains have cooled the atmosphere down considerably. The evenings are quite pleasant and now many mosquitoes—in Delhi. Don’t know about Agra.

We got rid of so much junk that everything went in the two suitcases save our blankets. Left on the 4:40, arriving here this evening just before nine. For once we had a fast train that kept us in the sixties. Now we are parked in the Taj Hotel @ Rs 4 per head. Decent place, but quite far from things, being in the cantonment.

Agra is 790 miles from Calcutta and 122 from Delhi. The city was renamed Akbarabad in the 16th century (Akbar 1556–1605), but the old name has prevailed over the new one. In size and importance, it is the third in the United Provinces, and has a population of 185,532; 21,782 live in the cantonment. It stands on the right bank of the Yumuna 534 feet above sea level.

The old city covered about 11 square miles, half of which area is still inhabited. It is clean and has a fine bazaar, says the guide book. Chief articles of local manufacture are gold and silver embroidery, carvings in soapstone, and an imitation of the old inlay work (pietra dura) on white marble. Agra is also famous for its carpets. There is a flourishing boot and shoe industry, and numerous cotton mills employ a large number of hands.

Nothing definite is known of Agra before the Mohammedan period. Sikandar Lodi took it from the rebellious Mohammedan Governor of Diana [?] and made it his capital in 1501. Akbar made it his capital during the early years of his reign, changed it to Fatehpur-Sikri from 1570 to 1588 and after a period at Lahore, he returned to Agra in 1599 where he died in 1605.

Shah Jahan resided at Agra from 1632 to 1637 and built much of the fort and constructed the principal buildings of the palace and the Taj. Between 1638 and 1650 he caused the palace at Delhi and the Jami Masjid to be erected, and he doubtless intended to move the capital to that place. Before that was finally done, he was deposed by his son Aurangzeb in 1658, but lived as a state prisoner 7 years longer at Agra. Aurangzeb removed the seat of government permanently to Delhi.

Well, the beds out in the side-yard look inviting. No time lost.

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