January 27, 2008
Magnificent Agra Fort
After the Battle of Panipat the Mughals captured the Agra Fort and with it came a vast treasure which included the world famous Kohinoor diamond. Babur then started living in the Fort in the palace of Ibrahim Lodi. The other great Mughals Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangazeb lived here and the country was governed from this Fort. The Agra Fort was visited by foreign dignitaries and ambassadors, travellers and other high ranking officials who were instrumental in the making of history in India.
Akbar began further construction of the splendid Agra Fort on the banks of River Yamuna in 1565 to serve as a military base. The Fort was ready by 1571 and was then used also as royal quarters and several additions were made until the rule of Shah Jahan.
Akbar and his son, Jahangir, preferred red sandstone and used it to build many palaces and courts. His grandson, Shah Jahan, used white marble, and built other marble mosques and palaces and pavilions of gem-inlaid marble which is seen in its resplendent beauty in the Taj Mahal.
Historians state that about 500 buildings were existing in the Fort originally. It is reported that some of them were demolished to make way for Shah Jahan's white marble palaces and mosques and some were apparently destroyed by the British between 1803 and 1862. Now there are about 30 Mughal buildings that have survived in the Fort.
Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal, was imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb, in this luxurious Agra Fort. It is rumored that Shah Jahan died in Muasamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony from where he could see the mirage of the Taj Mahal until his death.
I went to the Agra Fort after my visit to the Fatehpur Sikri. Little did I know then that this was going to be the first among other forts that I was to explore during this trip to India.
There was a long queue at the Fort entrance for buying tickets, and I had no intention of spending time there. So within a few minutes, while in the snail-paced queue, I befriended a small group of people in front of me. Unfair it may sound, however, I informed them that I'd be returning for my spot in the queue after taking a few pictures of the Fort from outside, to which they agreed.
After about ten minutes of shooting these pictures of the Fort, I went back to find them still in the queue, and this time they kindly volunteered to buy a ticket on my behalf thus giving me the freedom to go around. I was glad and promptly paid them and continued exploring further. I stopped by at the entrance gate called the Lahore Gate (so named because it faces Lahore). It is also called the Amar Singh Gate.
Till my entry ticket was ready, I stood by the Lahore Gate to listen to the low-pitched sweet sounds of chirping birds dwelling in the Fort premises. I made a half hearted attempt to capture a few pictures of them fluttering past but realized I am not talented enough to achieve that feat.
It was a cool, slightly misty day, and there was a strange mix of excitement and serenity in the atmosphere at the Lahore Gate. Somewhat like how I got lost in my surroundings for a while even through the hustle and bustle of the tourists, probably the birds have got used to the place and so continue singing sweetly in the trees - coolly indifferent to the crowd passing by.
The Agra Fort is a fine example of a beautiful blend of the Islamic and Hindu style of architecture, and various buildings inside the Agra Fort represent the assimilation of other cultures as well. This is widely regarded as a distinguishing feature of the Mughal architecture.
The northern part of the Agra Fort is closed to the public as it is being used by the military. The northern side gate is called the Delhi Gate.
The three rising domes of the ancient mosque, Moti Masjid, raising their heads over the red sandstone is a charming sight. Built by Shah Jahan, it is situated on the right of Diwan-I-Aam and its white marble structure is one of the precious buildings of the Agra Fort.
I spent the next few hours at the Agra Fort and had a delightful time in exploring the place. During this visit, I felt that I had a look at the Fort with a new perspective.
The Agra Fort is a photographer's delight. If you liked these photographs, click this link to view more pictures of the magnificent Agra Fort.