Agra Fort was my last stop at Agra. The fort is massive and represents the culmination of India’s Indo-Islamic heritage. Here a visitor is stunned simply looking at its majesty, the magical inlays on marble and Akbar’s vision on Rajput-Persian synthesis. The spectacular view of Taj across the river is a bonus.
The Agra Fort, also known as Lal Quila or Quila –I-Akbari is the grandest among all forts in North India. Today only 25% of the fort is accessible to the visitors and the rest is under the army. The entry is allowed only through the Amar Singh Gate.
It was here, Babur stayed after the first battle of Panipat in 1526, though the fort was very small at that time. It was here, Humayun was crowned in 1530 as the next emperor.
Akbar made it his capital in 1558 AD with red sandstone from Barauli area of Rajasthan. It was completed in 1573 AD. Sahajahan, Akbar’s grandson transformed the fort complex into a marble paradise. However, at the end of his life, he was deposed and restrained by his son, Aurangzeb in the fort. Later the fort was captured by the Marathas and finally by the British.
The Yamuna River originally flowed along the eastern edge of the fort and the emperors had their private bathing ghats here. There are still remains of a maze of buildings, which appear totally ruined now. Many of these structures were destroyed by Nadir Shah, the Marathas and the British troop.
The first sight after the entrance through the Amar Singh Gate is the Diwan – I – Khas (Hall of Private audience, which once housed Shah Jahan’s legendary peacock throne. The Diwan- I- Khas is also a grand building of pillars and arches, all built in white marble. From here one can have a glimpse of Moti Masjid in the backyard, which is not allowed to the visitors.
Along the eastern edge of the fort there are remains of wonderful palaces such as Khas Mahal, where Shahjahan was kept as a royal prisoner by his son for 8 years until his death in 1666 AD and from here he could gaze at the Taj Mahal.
Shahjahan had a private masjid called Mina Masjid. When he died, his body was taken from here by boat to the Taj, where he was buried beside his wife Mumtaj’s grave.
Continuing south, one comes across a massive red sand stone known today as Jehangir Palace. It blends Rajput and Persian-Central Asian architectural styles.
The visit to Agra was a timeless journey and cannot be forgotten in my life time.