If you have decided to travel to India, then what you can expect is diversity. Diversity of foods, cultures, landmarks and languages. Diversity of UNESCO World Heritage sites. India is proud to have 35 of these sites. What is interesting though is that the tourists massively visit about 10 of them, and the other ones are somewhat kept aside. We are now going to tell you about one such site. Agra Fort or the Red Fort, located in the city of Agra, should definetly be visited while in India, even though it is often left in the shadow of Taj Mahal. The next lines will convince you.
It’s the year 1573. For almost 20 years the Mughals and their Mughal Empire are ruling over the Indian subcontinent. During that time, under the ruling of Akbar, the third Emperor of the dynasty, Agra Fort is transformed into the main residence up until the capital of the empire is moved to Delhi. The Emperor wanted that the power and the impenetrability of the fort meet the greatness of his ruling. The construction continued for more than 8 years and was done by more than 4000 workers.
Made out of red stone and covering an area of 380 000 sq.m. Agra Fort astonishes with its architecture. It is a mixture of Persian, European and Indian ornaments. The fort has an irregular form and is surrounded by two walls, making many curves – the outer one is 40 meters tall and the inner one – 70 meters. Sitting on certain distances from one another there are powerful battlements with small openings for shooting, which hindered the oponents and protected the defenders of Agra. For additional security, there was a deep trench around the fort. There was no such trench at the place where the Yamuna River touched the Fort since the river defended the walls enough.
The completion of the fort’s construction continued also during the ruling of the fifth emperor of the dynasty – Shah Jahan, and if you get an Indian visa today and you visit the Fort, you would find that its outer appearance is only a fraction of its grandeur. Inside the fort there are many impressive buildings that astonish with their architecture and grace. Most of them were constructed by Shah Jahan, the creator of Taj Mahal.
One of the lavish buildings is Jahangiri Mahal. The castle is made of red stone and is a complex tracery of corridors, rooms, halls, galleries and balconies. It is an astoundingly beautiful example of the Mughal architecture from its best period. It was used mainly by the wives of Emperor Akbar.
Another one of the Agra pearls is Nagina Masjid. The mosque was build in 1631 by Shah Jahan, and is made of white marble. It has a marble yard, surrounded by walls on the North, South and East. The prayer room is located on the Western side, whose central facade contains three arches, kept by columns, and the main arch is bigger than the other two. On both sides of the entrance there are a jour marble railings that give an additional beauty to the building. The roof of the mosque ends with three bulbous domes with tops reminding of an iverted lotus.
Another castle in the Agra Fort – Shah Jahani Mahal is also from the period of Shah Jahan’s ruling. It was rebuilt to match the Emperor’s taste in 1628, and its walls were decorated with beautiful floral elements. The pavillion, which is facing the river, has an octagonal form and has one big central hall. Within the castle there are two rooms facing the Eastern side, one room facing the Southern wall and a central corridor. According to hsitorians, Shah Jahani Mahal is a proof that during his ruling Shah Jahan wanted to cover Agra Fort entirely in white. The Emperor tore down part of the buildings, built during the time of his grandfather Akbar and replaced them with white marble buildings, based on his project. Because of this the construction of Shah Jahani Mahal, initially made of red stone, was covered with white limestone plaster that immitated marble.
There is another evidence of the love of Shah Jahan for white marble as a construction material – Diwan-I-Am – the hall used for meetings with the representatives of the Mughal court. The hall is divided in three wings and the facade is decorated with nine gracefully curved arches. The projective premise, from where the Emperor addressed the gathered people is surrounded by three arches and is richly ornamented with gemstones, forming floral motifs.
Diwan-I-Khas was the place for personal meetings, used by the Emperor during the visits of other rulers, nobles and ambassadors. Here they discussed both personal matters regarding the ruler’s life, as well as important state matters. The building has many marble columns, decorated with floral motifs. There were two thrones on the balcony – one made of white marble and another one belonging to Jahangir – made of black marble. Unfortunately the interior was completely robbed after the Indian Rebellion in 1857.
Today, regardless of time’s turnovers, Agra Fort keeps the Mughal Empire spirit and your journey to India will convince you of that. The emperors’ majesty is visible in the exquisite halls, the wonderful gardens, the mystical mosques. In the whole Agra Fort. A splendor in red.