DELHI AND AGRA : A Traveller’s Reader By Michael Alexander (9781472142269)
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Delhi claims a noble history as the site of at least seven capitals dating from before the time of Alexander the Great. The glorious Mogul Empire brought great riches to the city and to Agra, where the world-famous Taj Mahal has excited awe in visitors for over 380 years. This Traveller’s Reader is an indispensable and fascinating companion for the traveller who wants to understand the history of both cities and who seeks the true spirit of the places. Delhi and Agra is a topographical anthology that explores the cities’ sites of interest and recreates the key events, customs and lives of the past, drawing on diaries, letters, memoirs and commentaries written by residents and visitors over the course of 600 years. Extracts include Tamerlane’s account of the sack of Delhi in 1398, descriptions of Shah Jahan building the Taj Mahal, recollections of Jesuits and mullahs debating the relative merits of their religions before the great Mogul emperor, Akbar, reports of cruelty and creativity, of addiction to drink and drugs, descriptions of elephant fights, suttee, the life of the bazaar and vice-regal banquets and eyewitness accounts of the Indian Mutiny from both sides and of the bloody aftermath of Partition. A great variety of topics are covered, vividly conveying an impression of how it would have been to live in or visit, both cities from the recent past to hundreds of years ago.