Agra Fort – The Complete Guide
The official residence until the mid sixteenth century, the Red fort or Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site spread over an area of 380,000 sq. meters in Agra. Founded by Akbar the Great Emperor in the year 1573 this historical structure was the Mughal residence right until the year 1638. It took nearly 4000 labor who worked very hard to finish it finally after eight complete years.
There are several palaces inside the UNESCO World Heritage Site to visit. The fort has been a residence to several emperors and dynasties. Hence, there are also many changes made to the fort over these times.
Here is the interesting historical significance of Agra Fort, and the buildings inside the fortress.
History of Agra Fort
The battle of Panipat by Babur and Lodi first started off the Agra Fort. Babur defeated the Lodi’s to take over the fort and modified it by building a well with steps going down known as ‘baoli’. Humayun was the successor and his coronation happened in this vital Mughal fort in 1530.
After this, many rulers from various regions and dynasties wanted to take over the fort. A decade later in 1540, the King Sher Shah Suri fought Humayun and changed the architectural style of the fort according to his own likes. The next two decades was a conquer and re-conquer by both rulers Humayun and the Sur Dynasty.
The Old Badalgarh was the first name of the fort and the fort got partially destroyed fighting so many battles until the reign of Akbar of the Mughal dynasty. He re-constructed the fort which was made of bricks from red sandstone.
Most of the present fort we see today is a re-construction with new structures, edifices, during the Shah Jahan reign of the Mughals. Later, the Marathas and Duranis also took ownership of the fort in the next two centuries. During the British Raj, the Marathas were finally defeated in the Anglo – Maratha battle after which the fort was under the British. Post Independence, the Agra Fort was handed to the Government of India.
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As mentioned earlier, the first ‘Badalgarh’ was made from plain bricks. However, this is still the base of the fortress as it was later re-constructed by Akbar with red sandstone. The look of the fort changed with Shah Jahan as he loved the look of white marble. He pulled down and re-done several edifices and structures inside the Agra Fort. He constructed a structure called ‘Musamman Burj’ where he spent his last days.
During the British Raj the Agra Fort underwent various modification as they brought down several structures and brought up barracks. The main buildings and structures within the fortress where you could witness the fine Mughali architecture were destroyed. Not much remains of the complex architecture of the Agra Fort. However, there are still a large number of Mahals & buildings with historical significance that remains. Witness the amazing workmanship and talent as well as masonry of the prominent sites within the fort.
Another highlight is the walls within the fort around the Royal rooms for the King’s family. The walls had gaps inside to fill water in order to keep the place cool. There are several structures within like the Delhi Gate, Bengali Mahal and the Amar Singh Gate to display the amazing finer Mughali architecture. This with the twist of Akbari architecture is presently referred to as the Indo – Islamic architecture.
Layout of Agra Fort
Many forts have a semi – circular appearance from outside. In the same way, even the Agra Fort has such a look from an areal view. It is built opposite to the famous Yamuna River. Also, the Khaas Mahal is the place from where the King Shah Jahan would keep seeing the Taj Mahal and admiring the marble structure of love.
The height of the walls made from red sandstone is at a shocking height of seventy feet and runs over a perimeter of 2.5 kilometers. There are lofty bastions and delicate curvatures on the wall. There are beautiful structures within the Agra fort that is visited by several tourists year around.
Inside Agra Fort
1. Delhi Gate
This is one of the masterpieces of fine Akbari architecture. If you want to see the actual Mughal finest architecture then this is the best one.
Step – Well: A step well with stone built by Barbur for the requirements for water in the ancient Agra fort. It is regarded as one of the first changes made to Agra Fort.
3. Jahangir’s Hauz
Jehangir built this water tank for bath purposes in monolithic style. Presently, this structure is merged with Bengali Mahal by Akbar.
4. Shah Jahan Mahal
This is the first structures within the Agra Fort modified by Shah Jahan. He wanted to remake the fort in white marble.
5. Nagina Masjid
This was a place of worship but for private not public. Shah Jahan used white marble to build the mosque.
6. Bengali Mahal
Shah Jahan again modified this palace that had secret structures under it. This palace was originally built by Akbar.
7. Diwan -e- Aam
It means ‘Hall of Public Audience’ originally built using red sandstone and later changed by Shah Jahan. It was given a shell – plastering to make it like marble.
8. Akbar’s Mahal
This red sandstone structure is said to be the place where Akbar stayed during the last days of his life. The ruins of the famous Akbar Palace is found in the Agra Fort.
9. Ghaznin Gate
During the British rule, the Ghazini Gate was brought from the tomb of Mahmood of Ghazni to house it in Agra Fort due to political reasons. He was one of the rules from Ghaznivad Empire.
10. Amar Singh Gate
This is one of the finest pieces of Akbar’s great architecture. Originally Akbar Darwaza meaning Door of Akbar, the Gate of Agra Fort got the name from a Rajput noble man called Amar Singh. Now this is the only gate through which visitors can enter the Agra Fort.
Best Time to Visit
October to March is the best time as summer is too hot and monsoon gets wet.
Visit duration time takes at least 2 – 3 hrs. to see the full Agra fort.
6:00 AM – 06:00 PM
Open On: All Days
Indian National – Rs. 50/-
Kids aged less than 15 – Free
Foreign National – Rs. 300/-
How to Reach Agra
Nearest airport – Kheria Airport situated at a distance of just 5 km from city. Varanasi, Delhi and Kajuraho are the major cities connected to Agra by flight. Visitors can also take flights from other major cities to reach Delhi airport and travel by railways or buses.
Agra is a well-connected railways network with four major railway stations:
i) Agra Cantt
ii) Rajah Ki Mandi
iii) Agra Fort
iv) Idgah Agra Junction
There are several trains including express and super – fast trains that connect to Agra from many major cities in the country. The Palace on Wheels luxury train visits the city of Agra with other sightseeing tourist spots and others cities.
Several intercity buses run especially from Delhi and Lucknow to Agra. Main bus stops:
i) Idgah Bus Station
ii) Agra Fort
You can also catch a taxi to travel to Agra from these 2 cities.
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