Agra Fort

Agra Fort is located on the banks of The Yamuna and has a prominent place in the history of Mughal India. Some of events that happened here in the 15th and 16th centuries went on to shape the history and geography of modern India. The fate of Agra Fort is entwined with that of the Kohinoor, one of the most famous Diamonds of all times, the defeat of Hemu the last Hindu King of North India and  the great rebellion against East India Company in 1857 which set up the British rule in India. Some interesting stories include the Stolen Gates of Somnath Temple by Ghazni, the Chains of Justice of Jahangir and when Sherlock Homes visited Agra Fort regarding a Case!

Reaching Agra Fort

Agra Fort is 4.5 KMs from the Agra city Centre. Auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, tempos, taxis and cabs are available from key points of Agra to reach the Fort.Agra, which is part of the famous Golden Triangle along with Delhi and Jaipur, is well connected by Air. While coming from Delhi, Trains are also available. Taj Express and Shatabdi Express are convenient options to reach Agra from Delhi. Since the distance between Delhi and Agra is just over 200 KMs, one can easily drive down or hire a cab as well.

Timings of Agra Fort

Agra Fort is open every day from 7 am to 6 pm. Entry fee is Rs 10.

When to visit Agra

November- February is the best time to visit Agra. Summers are very hot and hence avoidable. It might be a good idea to visit Agra during its festivals. The Taj Mahotsav is an Art and Craft festival held at Agra during Feb18-27. The other good festival to attend would be the Sharadotsav in October when artists from all over India come together for a cultural show.

Stay Options in Agra

Agra has plenty of options for stay. Taj Khema is the State Government’s Tourist complex and offers Tents, Rooms and Bungalows. It is located near the Taj Mahal.

Guides for Agra

You can engage Government authorized Guides for visiting Agra Fort and other prominent landmarks. www.up-tourism.com/approved_guide_list.pdf has the list.

What to see at Agra Fort

Agra Fort is also known as 'Lal Qila', Fort Rouge and Red Fort of Agra. The site where Agra Fort stands is 2500 years old. However, Agra came into prominence only during the Mughal Era. Until Akbar arrived here, Agra had a brick fort called Badalgarh. Akbar constructed the 94 acre Fort from Red Sandstone using 1,444,000 builders over 8 years. Qasim Khan Mir Barr-u-Bahr supervised the construction. The Fort has 4 gates on each side with the Delhi gate being the grandest of them all. The Delhi Gate has plenty of embellishments done on white marble. A wooden drawbridge was used to cross the moat and reach the Gate.

The Agra Fort was built keeping Security as top of mind. A 90 degree turn was provided between outer and inner Gates. This prevented enemies from using elephants to crush the door. The Agra Fort is supposed to have as many as 500 buildings inside it. However, over the years many have been destroyed by Mughals and later by the British.

Diwan-i-aam was the hall of Public Audience. The Emperor used to listen to petitioners and along with his ministers, deliver justice. Diwan-i-aam used to house the famous Peacock Throne until it was taken away by Persian raider Nadir Shah from the Red Fort in Delhi. The Peacock throne had more than 100 rubies and emeralds embedded into it and at one time even had the Kohinoor diamond on it.

Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque lies to the North of Diwan-i-aam and was built during 1648-54. While the exteriors are made of Bricks, the interiors are of Pearl White Marble. A Marble Tank is located right ate the center of the Moti Masjid. Interestingly there is a Sun Dial also in the complex. Not surprisingly, it is also made up of Marble. The prayer section has an arcade of seven arches. Marble latticework screen separate the women’s section from the main chamber. There are seven square Chhatris above the parapet and an octagonal tower with a marble cupola on top at each corner.

The Case of Stolen Gates

The Somnath Temple of Gujarat used to have magnificent Gates made of Sandalwood. These were stolen by Sultan Mahmud Ghazni in 1024. During the first Afghan war of 1842, a Jat Battalion stormed the Tomb of Ghazni and brought back the Sandalwood Gates. However,  many believe these were not the Original Gates and Ghazni had made them to glorify his triumph! These Gates are currently on display at the Agra Fort.

Diwan-i-khas was the hall of Private Audience where the Emperor used to receive dignitaries and hold discussions. It housed the famous Black Throne of Emperor Jahangir. The Throne was made of Onyx imported from Belgium. Behind the Throne lay the legendary Chains of Truth. These bells were 60 in number and made of Gold. Jahangir prided himself in being a just ruler and encouraged his people to ring the bell if they had suffered injustice from anyone in his Kingdom.

Khas Mahal is the Palace built of White Marble and was used by the King to sleep. Cavities were built on its roof to insulate it from the hot winds. Adjacent to it lays the Machhi Bhavan of the Fish Pavilion where fountains, tanks and water channels filled with fish helped the royalty to indulge in some Angling.

Nagina Masjid is a splendid Marble structure built by Shah Jahan to house the women of his harem.  Zenana Meena Bazaar was a market held below the Nagina Masjid for the women to shop while in their Purdah!

Sheesh Mahal or the Palace of Mirrors was the Royal Dressing Room. The Palace comprises of several halls each embellished with tiny mirrors.

Musamman Burj was built by Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.

 

It is an octagonal structure with an open pavilion providing splendid view of the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan was held prisoner here for 8 years by his son Aurangzeb. He is supposed to have died while watching longingly at his greatest creation.

 

A Discovery

Did you know that Agra Fort played a key role in the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Sign of the Four? The Walls of the Agra Fort is where the Treasure was hidden! Agra Fort also won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in the year 2004 which was commemorated by Indian Posts in the form of a Postage Stamp.

For weekend getaways from Delhi, visit Holiday ideas near Delhi

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