Agra Fort History, Timings FAQ’S

The Agra Fort is a peerless example of Mughal architecture. It has witnessed several ups and downs, various coronations, treacherous, intrigues, and royal pageants. There are plenty of doubts, controversies regarding Agra Fort history which has been pervading among the minds of the tourists for ages.

Three major powers- Mughal, Marathas and the English made Agra Fort their stronghold. It is a symbol of power, opulence, and resilience. The mighty fortifications instill fear and awe in the hearts of the enemies. The gorgeous palaces housed inside the Fort show the Mughal love for art’s sake. This fort is located close to the Rakabganj area and the famous Kinari Bazaar.

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Agra Fort History, Timings FAQ’S

It is not so easy to pen down the historical and architectural importance of the Agra fort. There are so many questions regarding Agra Fort, my sole aim is to provide the picture of the bygone era of the Mughal and English period. Inside the walls of the fort there lies a series of buildings and palaces, some of those display the royal grandeur which others built for defensive purposes. These palaces are the witness of the oriental luxuries and the lavish life. Many of these palaces, balconies, terrace are intact while the others are either nonexistent or modified in the British era.

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Agra Fort Entry Timings and Fees

The tourists who desire to visit the Agra Fort can visit it 7 days in a week. This fort remains open from Sunrise to the Sunset. You can book the entry tickets online or get them at the ticket counter.

Agra Fort Entry Ticket Price

Indians   INR 50
Foreign Nations  INR 650
S.A.A.R.C/Bimstec countries  INR 90

Children up to the age of 15 years are exempted from the tickets.

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How to reach Agra Fort?

Agra Fort is an excessive by Air by Train and by road. It is just 2 km away from the Taj Mahal.

By Air- If you plan to reach Agra Fort by Air, you have to land at Kheria Airport in Agra. You can hire a cab from there which will cost you 300-400 INR. This is at a distance of 12 Km from the Airport.

By Train- If you decide to come by Train, Agra Fort is very close to the Major Railway Stations in Agra. The Agra Fort Railway Station is just walking distance. Agra Cantonment Railway Station is 7 Km and the Raja ki Mandi Railway station is almost 10 Km away.

By Road- You can choose to visit the Agra Fort by road from Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow or any other destination. Agra city is 200 km away from Delhi and 240 km from Jaipur.

Why Agra Fort is Famous?

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The Agra Fort has lots of historical chronicles behind it. Besides the historical significance, it is a masterpiece of Indo-Islamic architecture. It is an architectural marvel not only for the tourists but also for the scholars, art lovers and students. Before planing the visit of the Agra Fort, you can get the information regarding Agra Fort history, Timings FAQ’S.

Art work of the Agra Fort

Besides the imposing structure, one is allured by the magnificent art work of carvings in the sandstone and the inlaid work done in the marble pieces. Thus this is the place where you can find the features of Kalamkari (Calligraphy), Pacchikari (inlaid work), kasankari (porcelain tile work) Chitrakari (Painting work), etc.

This fort houses lots of worth visit palaces, public and private courts, mosques and the garrison. The mere visit to this Fort will make you understand how the Mughals rulers used to live? You also get to know their passion for art.

Also read our blog:- What are the Taj Mahal specialties and Illusions? 

How was the Mughal Harem In Agra Fort?

The Mughal harem was popularly known as Zenana and it was having two stories. The top one was used for the day to day routine while the lower one used to have cool grottoes. It used to comprise of deep passages, bowlies,  wells, staircase. The ladies used to retire to this place to find relief from the scorching heat of May & June and involve in the fun games and prattling.

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This place used to have a private kitchen and washrooms. The imperial kitchen was much more important and for security reasons, the food tasting was done. The food was served in special Chinese porcelain which had such nature as they used to split if there was poison. Even the chef had to taste the food before being served to the emperor. The ladies of the harem were involved in different crafts such as spinning, painting, zardozi work, etc.

The truth about Jahangiri Hauz in front of Jahangir Mahal

Right in front of the Akbari Mahal the visitors site a cup-shaped cistern carved from a single block of yellow sandstone with small steps outside, The height of this monolithic bowl is 5 feet from outside and 4 feet from inside. The walls are 6 inches thick. The cistern was excavated from the garden of the Jahangiri Mahal soon after the mutiny of 1857.

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This bowl was placed in the cantonment garden and the common people of Agra used to refer it to be a cup of King Bheem (The legendary character of Mahabharata known for his extraordinary size and strength). Later it was placed in front of Deewan-e-aam and finally moved to its present place. Some Historians say Akbar ordered it to be built and was used as a bathtub of infant Jahangir but the feeble inscriptions on it mention the name of Jahangir and year 1611 A.D (1019 A.H). This is the same year when Jahangir got married to Noorjahan so probably this was made by King Jahangir and presented to Noorjahan as a gift.

Some historians aver that lady Noor Jahan discovered the essence of Rose (Atar) in this bowl and later she guided the harem ladies how to brew this essence. Nobody knows the truth behind these stories. Anyway, this is a great piece of architecture.

The Mystery behind the Canon Shots in Agra Fort

The marble screens near the Musamman Burj have marks of cannon shots. The Canon shot marks can also be seen on the left side of the façade of Dewan-e-Khas. Similarly, you can site some bullet marks on the wall as you enter the fort from the Amar Singh Gate. People are left wondering as to which war left these marks. A book written by an English women R.M Coopland wrote her memoirs in her book “Lady’s escape from Gwalior” she mentions these gunshots being there in 1857 and according to her these were made by the Guns of English officer Lord Lake in 1803 when he captured the fort from the Maratha forces of Scindia.

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Sheesh Mahal; Agra Fort

This is widely known as the house of glass and is one of the most exquisite buildings of the Agra Fort. This was built between 1631-40 A.D and was serving as the imperial bath chamber. This fabulous palace has the profusion of glass work done on the walls. These mirrors were imported from Haleb in Syria. The entire ceiling is richly covered with millions of small mirrors. It is presently cordoned by the Archeological Survey of India for restorations since 2003.

Though in the English Period it suffered much decay still it retains much of it’s old grandeur. It served as a summer retreat for the royal use and the Syrian glass used to reflect sunlight. A couple of years back while it was open people used to thump the walls and it used to produce a mesmerizing effect of sound. Imagine the summer palace with much glare, music, gargling water cascades, water fountains, This palace is right underneath the Deewan E Khaas accordingly the walls are strong enough to bear the weight.

Read more :- Shahjahan Mumtaz Mahal Story of Love and Tragedy

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Agra Fort under the Marathas

In the 17th century A.D Agra Fort felt under the Maratha power. The Sciandia’s were the dominant rulers. They enjoyed the power and pelf of the Fort. When in 1761 the Maratha power waved by the defeat of the battle of Panipat under the hands of Ahmad Shah Durrani, this Fort fell under Ahmad Shah. Later in 1785 again Mahadaja Seriandia regained this Fort. Finally, when Maratha’s lost to the British in Anglo- Maratha war, this Fort comes under the British.

Agra Fort under The British

The Agra Fort falls under the British in 1803 while Lord Lake captured this Fort and had been under their occupation up to 1947 when India became independent.

Why John Russell Colvin’s Tomb was made Inside the Agra Fort?

The Agra Fort was a refuge to some 6000 people during the Great mutiny of 1857, The Europeans, The native Christians (natives who had adopted Christianity), The half natives (Anglo Indians who were born from English father and Indian women).

The Cantonment, the English Churches, The Roman Catholic cemetery in the city of Agra the house of the English were all looted and eventually burnt down, stories of the digging of the graves and the burning of the corpses were in the air. During these troubled times Honorable J.R Colvin who was lieutenant governor of the northwest Prisoner died probably of his ill health or cholera as public health was at stake in the Agra Fort, Mr. J.R Colvin was buried in front of the then Armory (Dewan-E-AAM) this area was also called armory square. In 1870 the armory was finally shifted but the grave of Mr. Colvin still abides here.

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Wonder That Was Agra Fort- History

Agra Fort is the power center that remained the main place of the Mughals until 1838 when the Mughal emperor changes his capital from Agra to Shahjahanabad, Delhi. It is perceived that the place where present Agra Fort is located used to have a mud fort built by a Rajput ruler Balsingh. Thus this previous Fort was known after the name of the builder as Badalgarh.

It was Emperor Akbar, the third generation of the Mughals who realized the strategic location of Agra and decided to raise a strong Fort out of red sandstone in 1573. He commended to employ more than 4000 mansions and a group of architects for this project. Thus he managed to build magnificent palaces such as Akabai Mahal, Bengali Mahal and much more. He fortified the palaces by making double walls and moats encircling the fort.

It was the regime of Shahjahan when Agra Fort was modified to a large extent according to the liking of Shah Jahan, as it is widely known that Shahjahan performed the use of white marble instead of red sandstone. Thus major palaces and mosques built during his time are made out of pure Makrana marble. These buildings include—Deewan-i-Khas, Khas Mahal, Angoori Bag, Sheesh Mahal, Muthamman Burj, Moti Mosque, Nageena Mosque and so on.

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Besides the erection of the palaces, the three generations of Mughal rulers- Akabar, Jahangeer, and Shahjahan tried their best to provide them the best luster. They had the aesthetic taste and richly ornamented the palaces with paintings, inlaid work, tiles, and furnishings with rugs, tapestries.

Imagine the emperor Shahjahan sitting on the celebrated throne- the peacock throne studded with immense jewels and diamonds and dispensing Justice. The whole Deevan-I-Am carpeted with Persian rugs and the courtiers sitting with their respective positions- Similarly while Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan strolling through the Angoori Bagh, the rippling water in the canals and water cascades used to add the charm. The couple involved in the pastimes such as Pigeon flying, watching of elephants fights etc.

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What is the significance of the Moti Masjid in Agra Fort?

There exists a beautiful mosque made out of white marble closer to Deevan-i-Am in the Agra Fort. This is named as the Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque. In the British times, the area closed to the Divan-i-Am was called the Armory square and it lead to the gate of Moti Masjid. Presently this mosque comes into the Army area and is not open to the tourists.

This mosque is supposed to be built out of the remaining building material of the Taj Mahal. Thus it also resembles the Taj and is also made of white marble. There is a flight of red sandstone steps and as you ascend you reach the large court which has a large tank in the center. This is surrounded bu the cells which were used by the people who used to come for the prayers. This mosque is built on a raised platform. It was used as a hospital in English time around 1857. The English took refuge in Agra fort during the mutiny of 1857 and there was an outbreak of Cholera inside the fort, this hospital built and run in the premises of Moti Masjid then helped immensely in  checking the outbreak.

Agra Fort FAQ’S ?

Question: – Where are the toilets the Mughal royals used in Agra Fort?

Answer: – There are toilets inside the Agra Fort. A row of toilets has been excavated in the Akbari Mahal area. The waste was disposed of both manually and with the help of running water. Movable pans and pots were also probably used for the royalty.

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Question: – What was the furniture used by the Mughals and where is it now? 

Answer: – The Mughals hailed from Central Asia, where they being nomadic used carpets. There was a state-owned carpet manufacturing enterprise that used to supply carpets to the royal courts and the royal living area. Some of the period carpets from Agra Fort can be seen in the city palace museum of Jaipur. The furniture like table and chair were not in vogue instead of the low beds and the comfortable couches were used mostly.

Silk was used mostly in curtains and draperies. In the royal courts, the courtiers and ministers were mostly made to stand while the king and the royalty were seated comfortably on the thrones and couches very well crafted from premium silk and leather, low-level stools were also used, these were also covered with fabric and leather.

The couches were also decorated with garlands of fresh flowers. Wide chairs crafted from sandalwood embellished with ivory, silver and precious stones were also used. Marble platforms were constructed in the open area like lawns and the open area in front of the royal courts like Dewan E Khaas. These marble platforms were draped regally for the royalty to be seated.

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How the Lighting in the Agra Fort during Mughal times? 

Answer: – The royal palaces were lit eloquently and the palaces were lit up with the hanging chandeliers (Jhaads) stationary lampstands (Chiraag dan) pedestal chandeliers(Fanoos).As the night swayed on the palatial area the hanging chandeliers were brought down and the candles were placed in them. The diyas (oil lamps) were placed on the Chirag dan (Lampstands). In open areas, the torches were lit (Mashaal) the workers toiled the whole night to keep these torches burning. The mustard oil and the cottonseed oil was used as fuel. A huge lamp was lit in front of the Dewan E Aam. It is said this lamp burnt 80 kg of oil in a single night. As no male was allowed in the harem area only ladies’ staff was employed.

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The oil lamp(Diya)

 

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The Mashaal (Torch)

What was the water supply system of the Agra Fort during Mughal times? 

Answer: – The Agra Fort has a perennial river Yamuna flowing very near to its eastern side. During the Mughal times, this river used to almost touch the walls of the Agra Fort. The moat of the fort was fed by the water of river Yamuna. The Yamuna of the Mughal times was a year-round source of fresh and clean water. The river was also used as a mode of transport. The fort also had multiple stepped walls inside the high ramparts. These step wells were dug inside the fort to make sure the uninterrupted supply of freshwater even during a siege of the fort. One of the stepwell is situated in the Deewan E Aam campus. The tourist can see this step well which is in use even now and water is harvested and used in the gardens of the fort.

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What was the Material used in the construction of Agra Fort ?

The fort at Agra before King Akbar was a simple mudfort ,this mud fort was razed completely and King Akbar raised the new fort afresh. The double walls were raised with bricks and mortar and rubble was filled in between the walls. The bricks used during the Mughal times were almost half the size of the bricks used in English time These bricks were called “Kakkaiyah eit”in local parlance.The mortar used in binding these bricks was made by baking slaked lime stone, this baked lime stone was crushed under a heavy stone for several days until a uniform mixture of mortar was ready to be used.The mortar was the binding material even in the construction of the Taj Mahal, It is called as “Choona” in local terms. The bricks were baked at brick kilns not very far away from the fort.

Dr Atul Kumar Singh Parmar

Dr Atul is a graduate of R.B.S College Agra after the graduation did his Masters in Arts (English) Later pursued Bachelor of Education and Doctorate in English fro Agra University Agra. He has been been engaged in the tourism trade since 1995 , Worked as Govt Of India approved tour escort till 2011, He is promoter of 10thGate Tours dba S.A.M Tours and Travels. He is an avid traveler and travel writer with expertise in tours and travels, history, literature, architecture, social and political.

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