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Agra Fort: A Mughal Architectural Masterpiece

Agra fort or the Red Fort of Agra stands proudly close to the well-manicured gardens of the world-wonder of the Taj Mahal. This  resplendent Mughal monument of the16th –century is a dominant red sandstone fortress standing cradled in its 2.5-km-long enclosing walls.

Agra Fort is also inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Agra Fort
Agra Fort is a UNESCO inscribed World Heritage Site

This beautiful structure houses a number of palaces, including the Jahangir Palace, the Khas Mahal, the Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Public Audience), the Musamman Burj, the Diwan-i-Am, among others. Besides the Taj Mahal, it is another extremely popular tourist attraction in Agra, a specimen of fine Mughal architecture.

Agra Fort has been rated as one of the 10 best forts in India.

Fast Facts about Agra Fort

Location: On the west bank of the River Yamuna, about 2km upstream from the Taj Mahal

Built by: Mughal Emperor, Akbar

Built in: 1565

Highlights: Various beautiful palaces and 2 mosques

How to Reach: From the airport, the railway station and the main city centers, taxis and other local transport is available to reach Agra Fort

Best time to visit: November to February

Entry fee: INR 10 for Indian citizens, visitors of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries

                Others: US $ 5 or INR 250 per person

                (Note: Children up to 15 years are free)

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Agra Fort, popular as a walled city, is erected on the banks of the river Yamuna river and has 2 gates, the Delhi Gate and the Amar Singh Gate.

Tourists are allowed to enter the fort only through the Amar Singh Gate. Spread in 2.5 kms of area, this expansive complex comprises of several bastions, courts, towers, gateways, ramparts that are a symbol of the strength of the erstwhile Mughal Empire.

History and anecdotes
Originally, a brick fort owned by the Chauhan Rajputs, it first came to limelight in 1080 AD when a force of Ghaznavide captured it. Sikandar Lodi (1487-1517) was Delhi’s first Sultan who shifted to Agra and made this fort his home and governed the country from here.

This made Agra gain the status of the second capital. After his death in 1517, Ibrahim Lodi his son ran his rule from the fort for the next 9 years. He had commissioned a number of wells, palaces and a mosque during his rule. However, in the Battle of Panipat in 1526, he was defeated and killed.

Post Panipat’s first battle, the Fort and its sprawling treasure were captured by the Mughals including a beautiful diamond that later became popular as the Kohinoor diamond. In a chronological order, Mughal emperors- Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb lived at this fort and ruled the country from here.

Akbar realized the significance of the strategic location of Agra and had made it his capital in 1558. Since the fort was in a dilapidated state, he re-built in red sandstone. After the foundation was laid by the architects, the inner core was built in bricks and the external surfaces were in red sandstone. After around 4000 workers worked for around 8 years, the construction came to an end in 1573.

It was during the reign of Shah Jahan, the grandson of Akbar and the builder of the Taj Mahal, that today’s Agra Fort finally took its form. Contrary to other predecessors, Shah Jahan erected structures in white marble, with a delicate inlay of semi-precious gems and gold carvings. He also demolished some older buildings within the fort, and built them as per his liking and taste.

In the concluding years of his life, Shah Jahan was locked up by Aurangzeb, his son within the fort. If rumors are to be believed Shah Jahan took his last breath in Muasamman Burj, a huge tower that consists of a marble balcony that offered an amazing view of the Taj Mahal where his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal was buried.

Agra Fort has also been the site of one of the battles that took place at the time the first Indian rebellion in the year 1857. This rebellion was the end of the rule of the British East India Company in India and starting of the direct rule of Britain in India. Today, what we see in this magnificent fort is only a fraction of what it was in its days of glory.

Some interesting facts about Agra fort
Agra fort comprises of beautiful structures in both red sandstone as well as white marble, commissioned as per their taste by 2 generations of Mughal emperors, Akbar and later Shah Jahan

Surrounded by a fetid moat, the fort in Auricular shape, was massive double walls which as 20 meters in height and are 2.5 meters in circumference

The Agra Fort, in 2004, had won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004 and to commemorate this event, a special stamp was issued India Post

The fort contains of some striking palaces and other structures such as Jahangiri Mahal, Khas Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas, Diwan-i-Am, Sheesh Mahal, Shah Jahani Mahal, Macchi Bhawan, Akbari Mahal, Bengali Mahal and Musamman Burj

Within the complex of the fort,  3 beautiful mosques- Moti Masjid, Nagina Masjid and Mina Masjid and the Zenana Mina Bazaar

The walls of the marble pavilions have beautiful intricate carvings

To keep the rooms cool, there were hollows in the walls and they were filled with running water so that cool breeze would flow in the room

Some of the balconies in the pavilions, offer spectacular views of the river Yamuna and the Taj Mahal

In a similar manner as the Delhi’s Red Fort, Agra Fort is also one of the most popular symbols of the Mughal grandeur under its rulers like Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan

Most of the marble structures within the fort are like the best specimens of the Indo-Muslim art with influences from the Timurid art of Persia

The Agra Fort had an important role to play in the Sherlock Holmes mystery novel, The Sign of the Four, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
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