Location: Agra, Uttarpradesh
Built In: 10-11th century (Approximately)
Built By: NA (Reconstructed by Mughals)
Tags (if any): UNESCO World Heritage Site
Other names (if any): Red Fort
A ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’, the Agra Fort is located 2.5 kilometers north-west from Taj Mahal. This walled city constructed alongside Yamuna River, where the famous treasure, ‘Koh-I-Noor Diamond’ once lied, was seized by the Mughals and then by the British. The actual origin of Agra Fort is unknown, its only mention can be found in Ain-a-Akbari’, the work of Abul Fazal, Akbar’s court historian, who says about an old fort which existed in Agra even before the ascent of the Mughal Empire. This fort was under the possession of Hindu Sikawar Rajputs before it was seized by Lodhi dynasty and later, by the Mughals who captured it in the ‘Battle of Panipat’ in 1526. It was under the great Mughal Emperor Akbar, that the fort reached its utmost glory. He started reconstructing the fort using red sandstones, the work which was continued by his son Jahangir and later by his grandson Shah Jahan. Read on to know more about Agra Fort, its history, architecture and the major battles related to it.
History Of The Fort
Agra Fort was a brick fort under the possession of Hindu Sikawar Rajputs. However, Sikander Lodi, who ruled the country from Agra, was the first to capture it. Following his death, his son Ibrahim Lodhi kept it under his possession for nine years, until his defeat and death in 1526. He constructed several palaces, mosques and wells in the fort. After Mughals captured the fort, Babar stayed there and constructed a well inside the fort, after which his son Humayun too stayed in the fort. The Agra Fort, which you see today, was reconstructed by the great Mughal Emperor, Akbar, with red sandstone between the years 1565 and 1571. Akbar’s grandson, Shah Jahan, destroyed some of the older buildings and rebuilt some of them with marble. In 19th century, the British authorities destroyed some of the old structures. Apart from Agra Fort, Sher Shah’s tomb, Humayun’s Tomb, Jami Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri, Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti, Red Fort and Taj Mahal are some of the other forts constructed by the Mughals.
Architecture Of The Fort
The inner structure of the Agra Fort was built using bricks and the exteriors were constructed of red sandstones, brought from Barauli, Rajasthan. Almost 1,444,000 workers worked for eight years to complete the fort in 1573. As is often mistaken, Agra Fort is not a solo structure, but a conglomeration of many buildings. Having a crescent shape, the Agra Fort has a total area of 94 acres and includes 30 monuments and 500 beautifully structured buildings. The fort is 2.5 kilometers long and its walls are 20 feet high. The fort is constructed following the ‘Karmuka–Khadaga’ plan, as per the specifications mentioned in ‘Shilp Shastra’. A fortification wall of 70 feet surrounds the fort with a straight line of fortification going parallel to the river Yamuna; such a layout is known as ‘karmuka’. The Fort has four gates, of which only two are used today, which include Delhi Gate and Amar Singh Gate. The visitors are allowed entry to the fort through Amar Singh Gate.
Within the fort premises lie huge mansions and mosques which make it a city within the city. The fort also includes some residential buildings which face the river, Yamuna. Among these, Jahangiri Mahal was built, drawing inspiration from ‘Gwalior Man Mandir’. The major structures inside the fort are Jahangiri Mahal, Hathi Pol, Khas Mahal and Sheesh Mahal, Diwan-I-khas, Moti Masjid, Diwan-I-Aam, Akbari Mahal, The Anguri Bagh, Mina Masjid, Nagina Masjid and Musamman Burj.
Major Battles Associated With The Fort
- Agra Fort witnessed the rise and fall of many empires including Hindu Sikawar Rajputs, Lodhi Empire, the Mughals and the British Empire.
- In 1526, the Mughals captured the fort from Ibrahim Lodi in the ‘Battle of Panipat’ which marked the beginning of Mughal dynasty.
- In 1857, during the First War of Indian Independence, a garrison in Agra constituting British troops was attacked by Indian rebels.
- Following the death of Aurangzeb, Jats and Marathas seized the fort from whom the British Empire in India captured it in 1803.
- The Agra Fort is maintained by the Archeological Survey of India.
- The Agra Fort is open to the visitors on everyday from morning to evening.
Do’s & Don’ts For Tourists Visiting Agra Fort
- Usage of Mobile phones inside the fort is strictly prohibited.
- Usage of arms and ammunitions, liquor, eatables, tobacco products, knives, wire, electronic goods (exception to camera), smoking items, head phones and mobile chargers are prohibited.
- Avoid touching and scraping the walls of the fort.
- Make sure to bring registered guides and photographers to the fort.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Agra Fort is during the period between November and February. The fort is open to public from 6 am to 5:30 pm, every day.
How To Reach
- Agra is very well connected by road to Delhi, Rajasthan and some other important cities in Northern India, with Delhi being the nearest city.
- Agra has excellent rail connectivity to Delhi, Rajastan and Varanasi and the busiest railway station is Agra Cantonment station.
- Agra airport is three kilometers away from the Idgah bus-stand and seven kilometer from the centre of Agra. It takes only 40 minutes to reach Agra from Delhi.
Around The Fort
There are innumerable places to visit around Agra Fort; however, the most prominent among them are Taj Mahal, Fateh Pur Sikri, Akbar Tomb, Ram Bagh, Mehtab Bagh and Mariam’s Tomb.
Visiting Agra Fort is like strolling through India’s history as it takes you back to Mughal and British India and you can catch a glimpse of the medieval Indian architecture.