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Agra Travel Guide

Places to See in Agra

Agra Fort
Fort, Agra Travel GuideThe construction of the Agra fort was started around 1565 when the initial structures were built by Akbar. Shah Jahan replaced most of these with his marble creations. Some however survived, among them are - Delhi Gate., Amar Singh Gate, Akbari Mahal and the Jehangir Mahal. The fort is crescent shaped, flattened on the east with a long, nearly straight wall facing the river. It has a total perimeter of 2.4 km, and is ringed by double castellated ramparts of red sandstone punctuated at regular intervals by bastions. A 9 mt. Wide and 10 mt. Deep moat surrounds the outer wall. An imposing 22 mt. High inner wall imparts a feeling of invincible defensive construction. The route through the Amar Singh Gate is dog-legged. The layout of the fort was determined by the course of the river, which in those days flowed alongside. The main axis is parallel to the river and the walls bridge out towards the city.

The fort had originally four gates, two of which were later walled up. Delhi gate in the west is fortified by massive octagonal towers and faces the bazaar and leads to the Jama Masjid in the city. Its architectural plan was imperviously devised to put the defenders in an advantageous position. Delhi gate is now closed for visitors.

The Amar Singh Gate lies to the South and is defended by a square bastion flanked by round towers. It had a crooked entrance with dangerous trap points and a steep rise. Its Naubat Khana Court with pillared pavilions is an impressive structure. Visitors are allowed entry through this gate only.

Buildings inside the fort

Jehangir Mahal
This is the first notable building that the visitor sees on his right hand side at the end of a spacious lawn, as one enters through the Amar Singh Gate and emerges out of the passage. It was built by Akbar as women's quarters and is the only building that survives among his original palace buildings. It is built of stone and is simply decorated on the exterior. The most important feature of the edifice are its ornamental stone brackets which support the beams. In front is a large stone bowl which we probably used to contain fragrant rose water. Ornamental Persian verses have been carved along the outer rim, which record its construction by Jehangir in 1611 AD.

Jodha Bai's Palace
To the right of Jehangir Mahal is Akbar's favourite queen Jodha Bai's Palace. In contrast to other palaces ,it is rather simple. Through the slits in the wall one can see the Taj.

Anguri Bagh
These formal, 85 m square, geometric gardens lie to the left of the fort. During Shah Jahan's time the beauty of the gardens was considerably enhanced by decorative flower beds.

Golden Pavilions
The curved chala roofs of the small pavilions made by the Khaas Mahal are blessed on the roof shape of Bengali village huts constructed out of curved bamboo, designed to keep of heavy rains. The shape was first expressed in stone by the Sultans of bengal. Originally gilded, these were probably ladies' bedrooms with hiding places for jewelry in the walls. These pavilions are traditionally associated with Shah Jahan's daughters - Roshara and Jahanara Begum.

Khaas Mahal
Situated in between the golden pavilions is the Khaas Mahal. Built entirely of marble by Shah Jahan, the palace demonstrates distinctive Islamic-Persian features. These are well blended with a striking range of Hindu features such as chhatries. It is considered to be emperor's sleeping room or 'Aramgah'. The Khaas Mahal provides the most successful example of painting on a white marble surface

Musamman Burj
On the left of the Khaas Mahal id the Musamman Burj built by Shah Jahan. It is a beautiful octagonal tower with an open pavilion. With its openness, elevation and the benefit of cool evening breezes blowing in off the Yamuna River, this could well have been used also as the emperor's bedroom. This is where Shah Jahan lay on his death bed, gazing at the Taj. Access to this tower is through a magnificently decorated and intimate apartment with the scalloped fountain in the centre. The inlay work here is exquisite, especially above the pillars. In front of the fountain is a sunken courtyard which could be flooded and in the Sheesh Mahal opposite are further examples of decorative water engineering in the hammams.

Sheesh Mahal
Opposite to the Musamman Burj and just below the Diwan-I-Khaas hall is the Sheesh Mahal or the lass Palace. It is believed to have been the harem dressing room and its walls are inlaid with tiny mirrors which are the best specimens of the glass-mosaic decoration in ndia. The Sheesh Mahal is composed of two large halls of equal size, each measuring 11.15m X 6.40m. Both are connected in the centre by a broad arched opening and on the sides by two narrow passages.

To the right of Sheesh Mahal is Diwan-I-Khaas, the hall of Private Audience. Presently entry is not allowed inside Diwan-I-Khaas but the fine proportions of the building can easily be appreciated. The marble pillars are inlaid with semi-precious stones in delightful floral patterns.

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