The iconic fort of the Mughals

Agra Fort

Agra Fort

Amar Singh Gate

Amar Singh Gate

Angoori Bagh

Angoori Bagh
Bagh

Bldng _1

Building

Bldng _2 Bldng _3

Building

Bldng _4

Building

Bldng _5

Building

Bldng _6

Building

Bldng _7

Building

Colvin's grave

Colvin’s grave

Diwan I Aam _1

Diwan I Aam

Diwan I Aam _2

Diwan I Aam

Diwan I Aam _3 Diwan I Aam _4

Diwan I Aam

Diwan I Khaas _1

Diwan I Khaas

Diwan I Khaas _2

Diwan I Khaas

Entrance_1

Entrance

Entrance_2

Entrance

Entrance_3

Entrance

Garden

Garden

Ghaznin Gate

Ghaznin Gate

Ghaznin Gate_2

Ghaznin Gate

Inside

Inside

Inside _2

Inside

Inside _3

Inside

Jahangir's Hauz Jahangir's Hauz_2

Jahangir’s Hauz

Mutahmman Burj_1

Mutahmman Burj

Mutahmman Burj_2

Mutahmman Burj

Palace _1

Palace

Shish mahal_1

Shish Mahal

Shish mahal_2

Shish Mahal

View of the Taj

View of the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort

 

The City of Agra is generally known for its most famous architecture- the Taj Mahal, a monumental symbol of love and splendour, buily by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved queen, Begum Mumtaz Mahal. However, an equally important and impressive landmark of Agra is the Agra Fort, a redstone and marble behemoth that showcases all the aura, glamour and opulence of the Mughal era.

Situated on the right bank of the Yamuna , the Agra fort,  a 90 acre maze of gates, palaces,  gand ardens,  has a perimeter of 2.5 km, and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site that has seen a quite frequent change of hands. In a highly volatile game of Russian roulette, the fort has changed hands over the centuries from the original inhabitants, the Hindu Sikarwar Rajputs (who built a brick fort there in the 11th Century) , to the Ghaznavides, then the Lodis, the Mughals, the Suris (of Sher Shah Suri), the Mughals again, the Hindu king Hemu, the Marathas and finally the Britishers after the Anglo-Maratha war of 1803. In this long history, the Mughals, in particular the iconic emperors Akbar and Shah Jahan, left their lasting influences upon the history and the architecture of the Fort. Realizing the importance of its central situation, Akbar made Agra his capital in 1558, and since then, the Agra Fort has held a prominent position in Indian history.

Agra Fort is a conglomeration of Hindu and Islamic influences, perhaps mirroring the liberal tastes of Akbar and Shah Jahan, who were among the more secular rulers of this country. The red sandstone impregnated walls are interrupted by massive circular bastions, and the Fort has four gates, of which the Delhi Gate and Lahore Gate (also known as Amar Singh Gate) are more prominent. The monumental Delhi Gate , which was a masterpiece of the Mughal era and was used by  the Emperor for entering the Fort , is the is the grandest of the four, and is embellished with inlay work in white marble. Unfortunately, since the Indian military is using the northern part of the fort, the Delhi Gate cannot be used by the public and visitors enter the fort through the Lahore Gate ( also named by the Britishers as Amar Singh Gate) .

The massive, semicircular Fort is surrounded by a water- filled moat which used to house crocodiles in its heydeys, thus proving to be an effective deterrent for invading enemies. At the Delhi Gate, the Hathi Pol (“Elephant Gate”) – guarded by two life-sized stone elephants with their riders – added another layer of security.

To the red sandstone architecture typical of the early Mughals, Shah Jahan, the opulence- loving emperor, added marble and metallic inlay, thus providing a beautiful hybrid character. The Amar Singh Gate leads to Jehangir’s Palace, which  was probably built by Akbar for his son Jehangir. The courtyard houses a curious contraption, the Hauz-i- Jehangir, a huge bowl carved out of a single block of stone, which was used for bathing in the emperor’s times.

Adjacent to this is the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque), which is always closed.
To its right is the Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audiences), the building used by Shah Jahan for public audiences. The small but beautiful Nagina Masjid (Gem Mosque ) built by Shah Jahan for the ladies of the court in 1635, is to the left.

The courtyard leads to the Diwan e Khas ( Hall of Special Audiences) , which used to be reserved for the reception of important dignitaries and foreign dignitaries. This is the place which used to house the legendary Peacock Throne of Shah Jahan, which was inset with precious stones including the famous Koh-i-noor diamond. This marvellous structure was taken to Delhi by Aurangzeb, then carted off by Nadir Shah to Persia, dismantled after his death in 1747, and the Kohinoor later found its way to Great Britain, to adorn the crown of the British monarch.

To the right is the beautiful Shish Mahal ( Hall of mirrors), with walls inlaid with tiny mirrors.

The Agra Fort has seen the  vagaries of time, and today, sadly,  the Fort houses barely 30 out of the original 500 grand buildings of the Mughal era, many of the buildings having been demolished by the Britishers to make way for barracks, and the others ravaged by Nadir Shah, the Marathas and the Jats.

The eastern side of the fort houses the beautiful Musamman Burj, which is witness to one of the saddest stories of the Mughal era. It was here that the aesthetic , luxury-loving emperor Shaha Jahan, who gave impetus to the greatest period of development of Arts and Craft in medieval India, was imprisoned for eight years, by his ambitious son , the tyrannical Aurangzeb. From this white- marble octagonal palace, Shah Jahan would gaze every day across the river and see the Taj Mahal, which he had constructed in the memory of his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal. The crocodile- infested moat below would offer no chance of escape, and the emperor, ruminating on the vagaries of fortune, would spend his lonely days, and pray at his private mosque, the Mina Masjid ,  till his eventual death in imprisonment, in 1666.

The large adjacent courtyard is the Angoori Bagh, a mediaeval garden which has been resurrected in recent days and provides a soothing green cover inside the premises. A now-locked entrance here leads to an underground maze of rooms and passage-ways, where Akbar used to house his 500- strong harem.

As the sun sets over the Yamuna, and the afternoon breeze blows gently, one looks across the river to one of the iconic buildings of all times, the Taj Mahal, and cannot but help be filled with wonder and awe at having visited a place which has such a pivotal role in India history. If you are visiting Delhi and its surroundings, Agra Fort , situated 3 hrs by road from Delhi, is a must-do along with the legendary Taj Mahal.

 

Details

>Getting there: Agra is 200 km southeast from Delhi and is one of the points of the tourist’s Golden Triangle of Agra-DelhiJaipur. Agra is also very well connected via rail and road with other nearby cities and tourist destinations.

>Details of Agra :

– http://wikitravel.org/en/Agra

– http://agrafort.gov.in/

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/251

>Details of Agra Fort : http://www.asiagracircle.in/agra-fort.html

>Map of Agra Fort: 

   Map_ Agra Fort                     

> Delhi- Agra map:

Delhi to Agra map

 

 

 

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