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Browse Heritage Cities Of India
On the banks of river Yamuna in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India
Year of Construction:
Started by Akbar and completed by Shah Jahan in 1653
Mughal Emperor Akbar/Shah Jahan
UNESCO word heritage sites of agra.
Agra fort is located near the Taj Mahal gardens in the city of Agra. This 16th century monument is also known as Red Fort of Agra, Lal quila, or fort rouge and is better known as a walled fortress. This fort has a rich history associated with it since the time of Akbar the Great mughal emperor, who built it in 1654, for the purpose of residence as well as military strategic point. It was in this monument that the grandson of Akbar, the great Shah Jahan, builder of Taj mahal was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb, who later breathed his last in this fort. It has been named as one of the three Unesco heritage sites in agra. Battle of panipat was decisive in handing over the agra fort to the mughal empire where the Kohinoor diamond was also found. When the city of Agra was made the capital by Akbar, this fort played an important role in the politics and military warfare. Situated at about 2.5 kms from Taj Mahal, this fort has a vast expanse and is built mostly in red sandstone which were brought from the Barauli region of Rajasthan. Presently, the Red fort is one of the most frequently visited sightseeing monuments in agra and is included in a number of agra fort tour packages. In an area of about 94 acres, the spread of Agra fort is quite huge, with plenty of designs typical of mughal period and mostly includes bastions, semicircular gates and plenty of designs inside the fort. The inside of the fort contains many other small monuments such as Diwan-i-khas, Khas Mahal, Jahangir Palace and mosques, which further add to the architectural beauty of the place.
The buildings of red fort and Taj mahal are a great testimony to the mogul empire and its civilisation. Although, the history of Agra dates back to beyond 2500 years, it was during the reign of the mughals when the city of agra was actually recognised throughout the world. After the entry of babur in the early 15th century, Humayun was able to put a mark in the city of agra. But the real flourish was seen during the time of Akbar the Great, who was the son of Humayun, during whose reign, the larger part of the Agra fort was built.
Built as a strong fortress, the red fort of agra was founded in 1565 by Akbar along the river Yamuna. Geographically, it is located towards the north west side of the Tajmahal gardens and they appear to be standing very close to each other.
The fortress is surrounded by a moat, from where the huge walls of the red standstone building rise up, occasionally marked by the curves and rises of the bastions. Boundary wall extends to a distance of 2.5 kms and encloses the agra fort. It is a reflection of the beauty and masterpiece of mughal architectures. Two gates are found in the walls which are known as the delhi gate and amar singh gate. Although the delhi gate was larger and grander, presently the entrance is through the amar singh gate. On entering the delhi gate, one can see the Hathi Pol or Elephant gate.
The inside structures consist of a few palaces such as khas mahal, seesh mahal, the tower of muhammam burj and the reception rooms of Diwan-i-khas and public rooms of Diwan-i-aam, which were built under the rule of Shah Jahan. Moti masjid by Shah Jahan and nagina masjid by Aurangzeb are two beautiful mosques present inside the complex, which were made of white marble.
Most of the structures were made of pure marble and red sandstone, and they were laced with beautiful carvings. Strong influences of indo-muslim art were reflected in these monuments with reflections of Persian artistry.
Some of the noteworthy structures inside the agra fort were
Seesh mahal – This meant the glass palace which was used for royal dressing room, the walls of which were full of mirror like glass mosaic decorations on the walls.
Diwan-i-am consisted of peacock throne, and was built for the purpose of communicating with the public and aristocracy.
Diwan-i-khas, was used by the king for welcoming other kings and dignitaries. It contains the black throne of Jahangir.
The Anguri Bagh was full of beautiful plants and fruit trees, extending over an area of 85 acres.
Khas mahal is a small places built of white marble with plenty of paintings on the marble stones.
Mina masjid, which meant the heavenly mosque, was used for private prayers by the mujahara and was closed to public.
Nagina masjid meant the Gem masjid and was designed for the ladies of the court and the fort.
Musamman burj is an octagonal and large towers which has a small balcony facing the Taj mahal and is the last place of Shah jahan before his death,
from where he was able to see Taj mahal when imprisoned by Aurangzeb.
Rang mahal is the place where the kings wives and mistresses lived.
Macchi bhawan was once the place of harem functions and contained a lot of pools and fountains.
Jahangir mahal was the mahal built by akbar for his son Jahangir.
Shahi burj was meant to be the private work area of Shah Jahan.
Shah Jahani mahal is the place where Shah Jahan first tried to bring alterations in the red sandstone palace.
From the various structures that are found presently inside the agra fort, it is clear that after Akbar, his descendants tried to incorporate their own styles and monuments due to which one can presently see a mix of architectural buildings as each of the rulers after akbar had different beliefs.
Layout of the Agra Fort
A semicircular plan is in which the 94 acre of the building of agra fort has been structured. The walls surrounding the fort are 70 feet in height and they lie parallel to the river. Four gates are present in total, of which the Khizri gate opens towards the river. The delhi gate is still named as the same while the Lahore gate is presently called Amar Singh Gate on behalf of Amar Singh Rathore.
Delhi gate is present in the western part of the fort. It is the grandest of the gates and is considered as an architectural masterpiece built by akbar. In order to enhance the security measures, this gate was built in 1568. There is an inlay of white marble and a bridge was laid over the moat to cross into the fort from the mainland. On entering the Hathi pol was visible was consisted of two life size elephants with riders made of stone. In present days, the Indian military uses this particular gate due to which it is not used by public, who enter through the amar singh gate. Historians have noted that there were about 500 small and large structures inside the fort. Most of the buildings, including the fort walls are made of red sandstone. Although the architectural styles were related to mughal era, yet the influences of hindu styles were seen suggesting that the architects who worked on agra fort also belonged to the hindu community. The Agra fort also suggests that the architectural perception of Akbar and Shah Jahan differed from each other, even though, they were very near to each other in descendancy.
The history of agra fort, dates back to its first mention in the year 1080, when the Hindu Sikarwar Rajputs held its control. In 15th century AD, Sikandar Lodhi captured it and shifted his base from delhi to agra as the first sultan of delhi. During his stay in the fort and rule of his kingdom, the city of agra became the second capital after delhi. After Sikandar Lodhi’s death in 1517, his son kept control over the fort for 9 years, until he was defeated and killed at panipat in 1526 by the mughal kings. During this capture by mughals of the fort, the famous Kohinoor diamond was found. Babur was the first mughal king to have stayed in this fort. During his rule, the step well or famous baoli was constructed. Finally in the times of akbar, the hindu king Hemu was defeated in second battle of panipat in 1556 after which the rule of akbar started and mughal empire remained in agra fort will the attack by the british empire. Due to the centralised location of agra, it was selected to be the capital. From the existing dilapidated condition of a brick fort known as badalgarh, akbar constructed the whole ruined structure, into the sprawling fort. Various architectural design and use of precious and semiprecious stones, were done with these engravings. After the laying out of the Agra fort was started, it went into being ruined due to neglect from various quarters. Then Akbar brought a number of accomplished architects to built the inner core with bricks and the external surfaces were covered with red sandstones. It is said that about 1,444,000 number of builders working on the building for about 8 years and it was completed in 1573. The next part of the building took place in the time of Shah Jahan the present scenario is because of the architectural style of him. There were more of white marbles, inlays with gold and semi precious gems. During this reign, a number of structures inside the fort were destroyed and newer styles were built by shah Jahan. Later on, after Aurangzeb took the reigns of mughal empire, the son imprisoned Shah Jahan in this buildings. He was kept imprisoned in the Muasamman Burj which is a tower with a balcony where he could see the taj mahal.
During the attack by British East India Company, and the Indian rebellion in 1857, the structure was very much neglected.
Interesting Facts About Agra Fort
- It was in 2004 that the Aga Khan Award for Archhitecture was given to the Agra fort and in the same year, the Indian postal system issued a stamp commemorating the event.
- One of the stories of Sherlock Homes mysteries had a setting in the Agra ford, which was known as the sign of the four by Sir Aurther Conan Doyle.
- This fort has been the back drop of many cultural programs and most notably has been a part of the music video of Habibi Da which was sung by the famous Egyptian star of Pop Hisham Abbas.
- The great Shivaji visited agra in 1666 for entering the Purandar treaty along with the present king, Aurangzeb. But he was insulted by Aurangzeb due to which he objected but was put to the confinements in the Jai Sing’s quarters as a mark of Aurangzeb’s supremacy. But due to his smartness, Sivaji managed to flee from the confined of the dungeons and to commemorate the escape of Shivaji, a heroic equestraian statue has been erected infront of the fort.
- In a video game of Age of Empires 3, the agra fort has been depicted as one of the 5 wonders of the Indian civilisation.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit the agra fort is from the months of November to march, when there is not much of warm or cold. Moreover there are many festivals which are being hosted which includes the arts and crafts fair which is known as taj mahotsav and the Sharadotsav is held during the October month. A number of performers as well as visitors arrive in the city for looking at these functions.
Sikandra – This fort of Sikandra is situated at a distance of 10 km north of Agra in the Agra delhi highway. This is a centre where the tomb of akbar the great and his wife is present and this marks one of the most visited monuments due to its largeness. It was completed by the son of Akbar Jahangir and there was incorporation of certain styles in the building.
Itmad-ud-Daula – This is a monument build by empress Nur Jahan in memory of her father and is also an architectural masterpiece. It is also known as a baby taj.
Jama Masjid is one of the best architcectural pieces which was constructed by Shah Jahan and is one of the most famous mouseleums for the people who have visited these areas. It is well known for its domes and minarets.
Chini ka Roza and Gurudwara Ka Tal are other important monuments besides the agra fort, which is also present near the very famous taj mahal.
Agra Fort Facts
Year of Construction: 1517
Completed In: 1573
Time Taken: 13 years
Built By: Akbar, Shah Jahan. Aurangzeb
Dedicated to: Mughal empire
Building Type: Islamic tomb
Location: Agra (Uttar Pradesh), India
Architecture: Mughal (Combination of Persian, Islamic and Indian architecture style)
Architect: Ustad Ahmad Lahauri
Cost of Construction: NA
Number of workers: 20,000
Highlights: One of the Seven Wonders of the World; A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Timings: Sunrise to Sunset (Friday closed)
Open From Sunrise to Sunset
Entrance Fee: Foreigners: Rs 520/- Indians: INR Rs 20/- Open on all Days