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Agra Fort Tour

Besides the Taj Mahal, Agra is also famous for the Agra Fort, which is a veritable treasure trove of the Mughal architectural tradition. The various buildings within this sprawling fort complex represent the assimilation of different cultures, which was the hallmark of the Mughals.

Emperor Akbar began the construction of this massive fort made of red sandstone on the banks of River Yamuna in 1565. The fort was ready by 1571 though additions were made up until the rule of Shahjahan, who was Akbar's grandson. During the time of Akbar the fort mainly served military purpose, while by the time of Shahjahan it also served as a palace and court.

A visit to the Agra Fort during your Agra tour will offer an insight to the grandeur of the Mughals and their architecture. Most of the buildings within this fort represent a unique blending of different architectural styles.

The most noteworthy building inside the Agra Fort is the Jahangiri Mahal (Jahangir's Palace), which was the principal zenana palace (palace for women belonging to the royal household), used mainly by the Rajput wives of Akbar. A splendid gateway leads to an interior courtyard surrounded by grand halls covered with profuse carvings on stone, heavily fashioned brackets, piers and crossbeams. One can still spot remnants of decoration in gold and blue done in the prevalent Persian style. Jahangiri Mahal mixes Transoxanian (Central Asian) features with courtyard halls styled in the broader Gujarat-Malwa-Rajasthan tradition as it had been passed onto the Mughals by the early 16th century architecture of Raja Man Singh of Gwalior. Tourists on Agra holidays will notice that the Jahangiri Mahal is the most important building of the Akbari period in the Agra Fort.

The Khas Mahal, built by Shahjahan, is an airy edifice overlooking the specially laid Angoori Bagh (Grape garden- a simple formal Mughal garden). Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace) or the royal hammam (bath) is decorated with myriad glass pieces and a central fountain. Musamman Burj (a octagonal tower) within the Agra Fort is the most romantic, ornamental pavilion wherein lived two most beautiful and powerful Mughal queens - Nurjahan (Jahangirs's chief Queen) and Mumtaz Mahal (Shahjahan's chief Queen). The quality of pietra dura (stone inlay work) decoration is fabulous and perfect. Here Shahjahan spent his last few years as a captive held by Aurangzeb (Shahjahan's son). Shahjahan languished and died looking at the Taj Mahal.

Diwan-I-khas (Hall of Private audience) was built by Shahjahan in 1636-7 and is a small hall with double marble columns inlaid with pietra dura decoration. Here the Mughal Emperor received important dignitaries or foreign ambassadors. On the terrace, in front of this hall, are two marble thrones. The black throne belongs to Jahangir who, as Prince Salim in rebellion against Akbar at Allahabad, had ordered it for himself. Below this terrace lies the grand courtyard of Machchi Bhawan, meant for harem functions. On another side stands a small mosque built for Shahjahan by Aurangzeb.

Concealed steps lead to the Diwan-I-Aam (Hall of Public Audience). Here was kept the famous Peacock Throne ordered by Shahjahan. Further north stands the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque), its three domes in white marble raising their heads over the red sandstone wall. Moti Masjid is known for its sheer grandeur and perfect proportions and is not to be missed when you travel to Agra.