Agra City – Tūzuk-i-Jahāngīrī

Agra is one of the grand old cities of Hindustan. It had formerly an old fort on the bank of the Jumna, but this my father threw down before my birth, and he founded a fort of cut red stone, the like of which those who have travelled over the world cannot point out. It was completed in the space of fifteen or sixteen years. It had four gates and two sally-ports, and its cost was 35 lakhs of rupees, equal to 115,000 tomān of current Persian coinage and to 10,500,000 k͟hānī according to the Tūrān reckoning. The habitable part of the city extends on both sides of the river. On its west side, which has the greater population, its circumference is seven kos and its breadth is one kos. The circumference of the inhabited part on the other side of the water, the side towards the east, is 2½ kos, its length being one kos and its breadth half a kos. But in the number of its buildings it is equal to several cities of ʿIrāq, K͟hurāsān, and Māwarāʾa-n-nahr (Transoxiana) put together. Many persons have erected buildings of three or four storeys in it. The mass of people is so great, that moving about in the lanes and bazars is difficult. It is on the boundary of the second climate. On its east is the province of Qanauj; on the west, Nāgor; on the north, Sambhal; and on the south, Chanderī.

It is written in the books of the Hindus that the source [4]of the Jumna is in a hill of the name of Kalind,2 which men cannot reach because of the excessive cold. The apparent source is a hill near the pargana of K͟hiẓrābād.

The air of Agra is warm and dry; physicians say that it depresses the spirits (rūḥrā ba taḥlīl mībarad) and induces weakness. It is unsuited to most temperaments, except to the phlegmatic and melancholy, which are safe from its bad effects. For this reason animals of this constitution and temperament, such as the elephant, the buffalo, and others, thrive in its climate.

Before the rule of the Lodī Afghans, Agra was a great and populous place, and had a castle described by Masʿūd b. Saʿd b. Salmān in the ode (qaṣīda) which he wrote in praise of Maḥmūd, son of Sultan Ibrāhīm, son of Masʿūd, son of Sultan Maḥmūd of G͟haznī, on the capture of the castle—

“The fort of Agra appeared in the midst of the dust

Like a mountain, and its battlements like peaks.”3

When Sikandar Lodī designed to take Gwalior he came to Agra from Delhi, which was the capital of the Sultans of India, and settled down there. From that date the population and prosperity of Agra increased, and it became the capital of the Sultans of Delhi. When God Almighty bestowed the rule of India on this illustrious family, the late king, Bābar, after the defeat of Ibrāhīm, the son of Sikandar Lodī, and his being killed, and after his victory over Rānā Sāngā, who was the chief of the Rajas of Hindustan, established on the east side of the Jumna, on improved land, a garden (chārbāg͟h) which few places equal in beauty. He gave it the name of Gul-afs͟hān [5](Flower-scatterer), and erected in it a small building of cut red stone, and having completed a mosque on one side of it he intended to make a lofty building, but time failed him and his design was never carried into execution.

In these Memoirs, whenever Ṣāḥib qirānī is written it refers to Amīr Tīmūr Gūrgān; and whenever Firdūs-makānī is mentioned, to Bābar Pāds͟hāh; when Jannat-ās͟hyānī is used, to Humāyūn Pāds͟hāh; and when ʿArs͟h-ās͟hyānī is employed, to my revered father, Jalālu-d-dīn Muḥammad Akbar Pāds͟hāh G͟hāzī.

Melons, mangoes, and other fruits grow well in Agra and its neighbourhood. Of all fruits I am very fond of mangoes. In the reign of my father (ʿArs͟h-ās͟hyānī) many fruits of other countries, which till then were not to be had in India, were obtained there. Several sorts of grapes, such as the ṣāḥibī and the ḥabs͟hī4 and the kis͟hmis͟hī, became common in several towns; for instance, in the bazars of Lahore every kind and variety that may be desired can be had in the grape season. Among fruits, one which they call ananās (pineapple), which is grown in the Frank ports,5 is of excessive fragrance and fine flavour. Many thousands are produced every year now in the Gul-afs͟hān garden at Agra.

From the excellencies of its sweet-scented flowers one may prefer the fragrances of India to those of the flowers of the whole world. It has many such that nothing in the whole world can be compared to them. The first is the champa (Michelia champaca), which is a flower of exceedingly sweet fragrance; it has the shape of the saffron-flower, but is yellow inclining to white. The tree is very symmetrical [6]and large, full of branches and leaves, and is shady. When in flower one tree will perfume a garden. Surpassing this is the keoṛā6 flower (Pandanus odoratissimus). Its shape and appearance are singular, and its scent is so strong and penetrating that it does not yield to the odour of musk. Another is the rāe bel,7 which in scent resembles white jessamine. Its flowers are double and treble (?). Another is the mūlsarī8 (Mimusops Elengi). This tree, too, is very graceful and symmetrical, and is shady. The scent of its flowers is very pleasant. Another is the ketakī9 (Pandanus ?), which is of the nature of the keoṛā, but the latter is thorny, whereas the ketkī has no thorns. Moreover, the ketkī is yellowish, whereas the keoṛā is white. From these two flowers and also from the chambelī10 (Jasminum grandiflorum), which is the white jessamine of wilāyat (Persia or Afghanistan), they extract sweet-scented oils. There are other flowers too numerous to mention. Of trees there are the cypress (sarw), the pine [7](sanūbar), the chanar (Platanus orientalis), the white poplar (safīdār, Populus alba), and the bīd mūllā (willow), which they had formerly never thought of in Hindustan, but are now plentiful. The sandal-tree, which once was peculiar to the islands (i.e., Java, Sumatra, etc.), also flourishes in the gardens.

The inhabitants of Agra exert themselves greatly in the acquirement of crafts and the search after learning. Various professors of every religion and creed have taken up their abode in the city.

Source:  Tūzuk-i-Jahāngīrī