Agra Fort: A showcase of Mughal Grandeur
Just two kilometres from the famous Taj Mahal lies the Agra Fort. Agra Fort was built by Mughal Emporer Akbar in 1565. It is one of the most magnificent and imposing forts of India. More four thousand labourers toiled on its construction which took eight years to finish. It is robustly built. It has colossal walls that stand over 20 metres tall. The grandeur of the Mughal rule of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan is reflected through it.
But don’t let the daunting outward appearance fool you. The Agra Fort was also the residence of the Royal Family and the Mughals are known for their opulence. The Agra Fort is scattered with beautiful palaces that make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale or a Disney movie. Akbar’s grandson Shah Jahan decorated it in white marble when he took over the reign. (Shah Jahan is also the one built the Taj Mahal as a shrine to his beautiful wife Mumtaz). He built and decorated these handsome palaces throughout the fort.
In a turn of events, a few years down the line, these palaces would serve as his gilded prison. Shah Jahan’s son, the last Mughal emperor of India – Aurangzeb, imprisoned Shah Jahan in the Agra Fort. It is rumoured that Shah Jahan took his last breaths in the Muasamman Burj. Muasamman Burj is a tower at the Agra Fort. It has a stunning marble balcony that has the best view of the Taj from the Agra Fort. He lay on his death bed with his eyes fixed on the Taj. Quite a romantic story, isn’t it?
Agra Fort is indeed all of that. Magnificent, well-designed and dreamy. Many of its structures were destroyed over the years due to attacks of the Marathas and the British. The British destroyed most of the buildings so they could build barracks for garrisons. It still holds strong though. Interestingly, many parts of the fort is still off limits to the public as they are used by the Indian military.
While the Agra Fort has two main entrance gates, the only functional one currently is the Amar Singh Gate. It is also known as the Lahore Gate (The other gate is called Delhi Gate). You will cross what used to be a crocodile infested moat to enter the fort. Agra Fort is a city within a city. Its unique layout is made to confuse attackers.
You will then come upon two life sized elephants made out of stone that guard the Elephant Gate, or Hathi Pol. You will come across a Sheesh Mahal, which means Glass Palace. Similar to the one in Amer Fort, this Mahal is ornately decorated by glass mosaics that look like mirrors. One of the most beautiful palaces is the Nagina Masjid. Designed exclusively for the Royal Ladies, the Nagina Masjid literally translates to Gem Mosque. It is small but exquisite. It leads down to the bazaar where the ladies bought goods for themselves. The Agra Fort also houses a mosque, but this mosque is not open to the general public.
There are quite a few more attractions, all lined up with the Yamuna River that flows alongside. Khas Mahal is a perfect white marble palace. The Anguri Bagh is a beautiful garden laid out in geometric patterns. A flight of stairs leads down to underground passageways and rooms where Akbar used to house his large harem of over five hundred women. You will also come across the Hauz-i-Jehangir. It is a massive bowl carved out of a single slab of stone and was used as a bath.
For lovers of mystery novels, the Agra Fort plays a central role in the Sherlock Holmes’ ‘Sign of the Four’. Love gaming? The Agra Fort even features in Age of Empires III as one of the wonders of India.
Agra Fort is a definite visit when you come to Delhi or Agra. It is best to hire a guide so he can help you through the fort and describe to you in rich detail the history of the fort.
Guidetrips tours of Agra Fort: