History- Important places, persons in news

Renaming of Agra


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Historical facts associated with Agra City

Mains level : NA

In another dramatic move after renaming Allahabad, the UP government is seeking to change the name of Agra to Agravan.

Agra and Agravan

  • The Greek astronomer, mathematician and geographer Claudius Ptolemy who lived in the 2nd century AD in the city of Alexandria in the Roman province of Egypt, is believed to be the first person to refer to the city of “Agra”.
  • In this it is easy to recognise the Yamuna, the river which after passing Delhi, Mathura, Agra, and other places, joins the Ganges, of which it is the largest affluent at Allahabad.
  • This was the account written by Ptolemy in his well known work ‘Geographia’ (The Geography), according to an 1885 translation by JW McCrindle titled, ‘Ancient India as Described by Ptolemy’.

Deriving the name

  • According to a thesis the earliest reference to Agra appears in the Mahabharata, where it is referred to as “Agravana”.
  • The thesis argued that in sources predating the Mahabharata, the city has been referred to as Arya Griha, or the home of the Aryans.
  • A/c to historians Agra derived its name from the Hindi word ‘agar’, which means ‘salt pan’.
  • The city is a part of Brijbhoomi the land associated with the birth and legendary activities of lord Krishna”.
  • Ptolemy might have thought that Agra was named after a Hindu king Agramesh or Agrameshwar, the thesis argued.
  • An alternative view holds that Agra was founded by Maharaja Agrasen or Ugrasen, the great grandfather of Krishna.

Establishment of the city

  • It is generally accepted that Agra was both an ancient city from the times of the Mahabharata and yet nevertheless Sultan Sikandar Lodi, the Muslim ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, founded Agra in the year 1504.
  • The website says that the “golden age” of the city began with the Mughals, when it was known as Akbarabad.
  • It served as the capital of the Delhi Sultanate in the early 16th century.
  • After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the city came under the influence of the Marathas, and began to be called Agra, according to the website.
  • Agra has historic linkages with Shauripur of Jainism and Runukta of Hinduism of 1000 BC.
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