As you approach the iconic Taj mahal on the banks of river Yamuna you get to see the towering bastions of Agra Fort, the crevices on the high bastions where once upon a time the artillery pieces of mughal forces. the cannons were situated. This is a sight you can’t miss. The story of Agra fort amazes and entices every traveler coming to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. WhileTaj Mahal has the architecture, the beauty, the finesse, a story of love. The agra fort has a marvelous story of power, dominion, sad story of an imprisoned monarch.
How to Reach Agra Fort: - Agra Fort can easily be approached from the Major Hotels in Agra or from the Agra Airport or Railway stations. The nearest railway station is Agra Fort railway station which is very close to it. Agra conttonment railway station is just 3 kms far from it and ISBT bus stand lies 10 kms far from it. All major hotels on Fatehabad Road are in close proximity to it. Even the Taj Mahal lies very close to the Agra Fort. You can easily walk up to the Agra Fort or hire cycle rickshaw to reach there.
Agra fort is a fortification, its infact a walled city built on the western bank of river Yamuna. There are two major aspects of the architecture of the Agra fort.
1. Agra Fort Army Area
2. Palaces to visit in Agra Fort
1. Agra Fort Army Area: - The name itself suggests the purpose behind the construction. The agra fort initially was a mud fort and was under occupation of king Ibrahim Lodhi. As Ibrahim Lodhi lost the war to the Mughal king Babur not only the foundation of the Mughal Empire was laid, the mughals got a very safe haven and a seat for enhancing their power and position in India. The present visual appearance of the fortifications can be credited to mughal emperor Akbar who veneered the mud walls to a strong structure of baked bricks having an outer appearance coming from a layer of red sand stone. So in a way this is the original red fort much older then the red fort of Delhi.
The very high ramparts (almost 70 feet in height) are at places double. The high ramparts have openings for cannons and old styled rifles. A moat running parallel to the outer wall fed by the perennial river Yamuna is also an essential features of the fortification at Agra fort. The outer 2.5 km long walls encompass a huge area inside. There are four gates opening to the outer world. Only one of them towards the south- The amar singh gate is now open for tourist traffic. The other three are under the control of Indian army. The delhi darwaza and lahori darwaza are very similar to the gates of red fort(Delhi) in appearance. The Amar singh gate has a strong entry gate made of wood and iron coupled with a draw bridge on the moat. The interspersed round bastions on the ramparts are designed for staging multiple canons. The mughals had a very strong artillery the talented gummers were deft handed to target even a very minute target from the towering bastions.
The amar singh gate leads in to the inner palatial area which sure was very important even then. There are three gates opening in to a steep ascending corridor with high walls. These three gates are not in a single line rather they make an obscure 90 Degree angle amongst each other, This was a very useful tactic to disrupt the momentum of invading forces and elephants who then were used to break open the wooden doors with sheer power and momentum. As you step inside after crossing the third gate you can be under shower of spears, arrows, bullets, some people say the structure is a contraption for pouring boiling oil on to the invaders, any way all this mechanism was never tried under the mighty and powerful mughal monarchs. climbing up the steep slope leaves you exhausted to try hand in battle If any.
2. Palaces to visit in Agra Fort-
The agra fort has a long list of very impressive and amazing array of palaces connstructed by many mughal emperors. Each one of them had a distinct style of architecture and preference which is very evident in these palaces. During your Agra Tour Packages do not miss the chance to visit the magnificent palaces of Agra Fort mentioned below: -
1. Akbari Mahal
2. Jahangiri Mahal
3. Jahan ara & Roshan ara’s palaces
4. Khas Mahal
5. Sheesh Mahal
6. Mussaaman burj
7. Diwan e khaas
8. Machli bhawan
9. Nagina masjid & Meena bazaar
10. Diwan e Am
As you ascend the step incline on the right had side is an impressive red sand stone facade with a very impressive outline done in white marble, the arches on either side with a small canopy shaped white marble chatri shaped domes lend the building an impressive out line. The open space just adjacent to this structure which is now in a sort of ruin was the place for Akbari Mahal, in original the entire red sand stone palace was built by emperor Akbar but because of the monolith bath tub now situated outside the main entrance supposedly built by emperor Jahangir lent the name Jahangiri Mahal to this structure.
Agra Fort Jahangiri Mahal: - The impressive gate has icons of six pointed stars and lotus flowers sure inspired by the Hindu architecture (nothing seems coming or inspired by the Jewish star of david). As you step inside the gate turning 90 degree in to a corridor you are led into an open area where entire structure is made up of blocks of red sand stone. The intricate carvings are very similar to the palace of the Hindu King at Gwalior fort, The palace was made for the Hindu queen where still signs of an existing Hindu temple can be seen. The long vestibule room on right was supposed to be a living room while an open room on left was used for various diverse purposes as you move inside a room with beautifully painted walls it is explained as the library of the king with decorated storing spaces on the walls. The walls are decorated with various motifs. Swastika is also one amongst them. The supposed library leads in to an open courtyard with a small lotus shaped pool in the centre. The left side opens into another room. The room has brick and mortar structure with very fine plaster giving an enameled appearance. A bastion has been converted in to a beautiful canopy(Jharokha) on the eastern side for the king to enjoy the cool river breeze.
Khaas Mahal and Jahan Ara & Roshan Ara’s palaces: - The white structure on the eastern side of a huge open area with a two storied structures on three sides is the supposed special palace(Khaas mahal) of emperor shahjahan. The palace has eloquent fine crafted marble fountains. The open space very artistically divided was supposed to be the grape garden. It is opinioned shahjahan transported the soil of Shalimar garden of Srinagar to grow the best grapes in Agra.The Khas mahal has a cieling painted in the hue of Gold, it is said real liquid gold was used as the paint. The flower motiffs have been used the marble is so thin that sunshine on the other side can be seenas the golden paintings glow. There are hooks on the cieling for chandeliers and human powered fans, the room tells loud the story of its glorious past. While planning Agra Tour Package from Delhi you must include the tour of Agra Fort grand palaces. On the other sied of the Khas mahal are two enclosed palaces with typical rajasthani styled canopies. There are a total three interconnected rooms in these respective palaces these are the palaces of princess Jahanara and Roshanara, Jahanara was the favourite daughter of the emperor Shahjahan so a marble palace for her while a lime mortar structure for the Roshanara. Jahanara is said to be the caretaker of the emperor while he was in house arrest.
Sheesh Mahal in Agra Fort: - Alighting a few steps down from khas Mahal on the left side just flanking the mussaman burj is the sheesh Mahal. The name comes from sheesha, It was the mirror palace built bu the emperor shahjahan, crafted with imported Syrian mirrors artistically inlaid in to the walls. A single burning candle is supposedly said to have million reflections and images. The sheesh Mahal is closed for normal tourists.
Musamman Burj:-Just beneath the Deewan e khaas is a marble edifice, this marble monument has amazing architecture. Mussaman burj can be said to be poetry in white marble. The white glistening marble has been perfectly sculpted and the quality of inlay is so fine that visitors are full of awe. The small courtyard has an abshaar (marble watercascade) on one side is an octagonal tower on the other side of the tower has a room with fine sculpted marble fountain the walls are all inlaid with semiprecious and precious stones. This tower has a dome which was covered with gold. The gold cover was replaced with a bronze one which still exists.
The king shahjahan in his old age was house arrested by his son Aurangjeb for last years of his life. It was here he remembered his love,his wife mumtaj while onlooking the Tajmahal, Just beside the mussaman burj is a window where the king made public appearance every day. The jharokha darshan was started by Akbar his son Jahangir also continued the practice and even installed a gold chain with a huge bell, this was done to ensure justice to every citizen. Anyone who feels injustice has been done then he/she can clang the bell and the emperor listened to the grievance. The jharoka darshan was stopped by Aurangjeb. The musamman burj is also known as shah burj by the name of emperor Shahjahan.
Diwan e khaas Agra Fort:- Every mughal fort had these two courts one was for general public and the other where the king met and discussed with his coterie of ministers, the vital matters of the state were discussed. Diwan e khaas is a marble edifice with a courtyard in front the courtyard had a very fine marble flooring which was uprooted and is today said to be in a museum of London. There are two platform one in white marble and other in black marble. These were supposedly used and erected by Emperor Jahangir his name is also inscribed on the black marble platform.
Nagina masjid and Meena bazaar:-At one extreme corner of the courtyard of Deewan e khaas just adjacent to the grand gate is the marble mosque its indeed a pearl in marble, crafted from white marble the three delicately crafted domes and the floor, this mosque was made for the royal ladies of the house. Just besides to Nagina Masjid was the meena bazaar a market where only royal ladies were the buyers; the best craftsmen displayed their wares and got the best customers. During your Delhi Agra Tour your Taj Mahal Tour Guide will explain to you about this mosque and the Bazaar. The very famous jewelers used to approach and merchandise their wares infront of the most worthy and influential buyers.
Deewan-E-Am: - coming down a narrow staircase from the Nagina Masjid you suddenly are standing in the midst of a hall with multiple columns this was the court of the ordinary people-the deewan e aam. The common people could meet their favorite emperor seated high on his throne. The marble platform underneath probably was used by the emperor's vizier seated and passing on the cases to the emperor.