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In Sikandra, near the suburbs of Agra city, India
Year of Construction:
Started by Akbar himself, completed by Jahangir
119 acres of land
Mughal Architectural masterpiece
Considered as the last resting place of the great king Akbar, Sikandra fort was built as the tomb of the great king Akbar. This structure depicts the architectural brilliance of Mughal emperors and also shows the importance laid down on the concept of constructing the buildings with extreme attention to details. The tomb was built like a fort due to which the name of Sikandra Fort is given to this structure. Sikandra fort is located in the locality of Sikandra, which is a suburban area near agra in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. This massive architecture was constructed around the period of Akbar’s reign following a tartary tradition where the kings were required to built the site of their burial after their death. The monument is placed in the centre of a large garden area. The special feature of this tomb is the intricate architecture that has been done with various types of stones and with various paintings and carvings from the mughal literature. Tomb of Akbar shows the best designs that marked the completeness of this great mughal king as was done with the Taj Mahal. Although, it is not very sure when the construction started, it is known that the monument was completed by Jahangir, the son of Akbar during his rule by the year 1613.
Sikandra Fort is located at Sikandra, which is situated in the outskirts of Agra city and about 8 km towards the northwest side of the city centre. It is situated in the national highway 2 or the Mathura road.
Tourists can approach the monument from the Southern Gate only as it is the largest gate and presently, the sentry house is found here. The gate itself is the largest gate in the premises and is also built in huge proportions. Gate in the southern side is having 4 chattri topped minarets and these are of the same design as that of the minarets of Taj Mahal.
Mausoleum complex is surrounded by high walls which is about 105 m square. Boundary wall is also enclosing the vast garden space, at the centre of which is the tomb of Akbar. Each side of the enclosure has a gateway, but the largest is that of the southern gate. Garden area is entirely divided into 4 parts by the paths leading from each gate to the actual tomb complex. This division has been as per the charbhag plan which divides the garden into equal parts. The middle road leading to the tomb from the boundary wall is having a raised path, below which the water channel has been done, in which the water is running continuously. For each terrace, there is a tank with fountain at the centre.
In the erstwhile years, there were four high gateways to enter into the Sikandra Fort complex. But now, only the southern gate is operation and used for the entry and exit of the tourists. Even the gateways have been designed with the deep sense of architecture with bold and mosaic designs. Four minarets are found atop the gateway. These gates are built with red sandstone and have been inlaid with white marbles. A wide variety of Akbar’s lifestyle is possible to be seen through carvings in the gateway. The designs found within the mausoleum are of the right proportions and ornately carved with various polygonal patterns. Overall, the pattern of designing in the gateways is a mix of Christian, muslim and hindu style of architecture.
Tomb Proper or Mausoleum
From the southern gate, a paved path leads to the tomb structure. Built in a proportion of 5 storeys, the tomb is seen in the safe structure of truncated pyramid. Real tomb of the king is to be visited in the ground floor, where other kings and queens are buried. Square design of the tomb is almost famous and not found in any other places.
Ground floor of the Sikandra fort is full of spaces, on all sides, except the south side. Plenty of piers and arches are seen in the cloisters. There is a vestibule in the southern centre with beautiful carvings, geometric designs, floral artistry and paintings. This is the place where the actual tombstone of Akbar is located at the exact centre. The tomb has various designs and figures on the glazed stones which are predominately in tasseleated pattern. Plenty of precious stones and white marble has gone into the making of this tombstone by Jahangir in later years. The tombs of the daughters of Akbar are also found in this floor.
23 bays constitute the second storey arcade in the verandah on both sides. The squared pillar and the arch with designs have introduced a new concept in architecture.
Third & fourth floors
As the floors rise gradually, they become smaller than the floors below them but have an identical structuring of the pillars and chhatris, towards the facade.
The entire portion of fifth storey is made in white marble contrary to the lower floors being made in red sandstones.
History of Sikandra Fort
It was during the time of Akbar, the third mughal emperor that the construction of the Sikandra fort had started. According to the tartary tradition, the construction was initiated by Akbar. This tradition dictates that the kings and rulers should have their tombs built during their life so that they already have chosen their resting place. As per this tradition, the cenotaph of Sikandra was built, although the date of commencement is not exactly noted.
After the death of Akbar in the year 1605, the further construction was taken over by Jahangir, who was Akbar’s son and ascended to the throne after his death. It has been noted by some historians that the constructions and the designs of the southern gate was not liked by Jahangir, due to which he changed the designs. For a number of years, Jahangir was engaged in battles with various rulers and therefore couldn’t devote time for the construction of the Sikandra tomb due to which the finishing got delayed till 1613.
Due to the repeated changes made in the construction of the tomb, there was no particular style that was followed. Therefore, one can see the reflection of various forms of architecture with mix of hindu, muslim, mughal and other styles. In the 19th century, when the British soldiers visited Agra, they tried to ransack the tomb of Akbar, resulting which the minarets in the gate and the tomb building itself were destroyed. Some historians also believe that the minarets were destroyed during the time of Jat invasion, who went on rampaging any structure that was built in the city of Agra.
Rules and Regulations at Sikandra Fort
Visitors to the location of Sikandra fort need to abide by certain rules and regulations that are laid down to preserve the sanctity of the location and give respect to the religious sentiments of the place. There are also rules set, in order to preserve the monument from getting vandalised or defaced. People visiting the fort at Sikandra, need to take care of the sprawling location, in order to protect it.
Items such as arms and ammunitions, fire and inflammable products, tobacco or cigarettes, liquor, food items, knives, guns, electronic items, wires, headphones and other such dangerous items are not allowed to be taken into the Sikandra fort.
Mobile phones should be switch off, when people go inside the monument.
Important belongings should be kept inside the lockers available at the gate of entry. Carrying a number of items can be responsible for delaying the security check time.
Video cameras are allowed inside the premises of sikandra fort but only by paying some charges as fixed from time to time.
The inside of the mausoleum is a place where silence is to be maintained and video shooting is not allowed.
Dustbins are to be used in case of discarding things and it is up to the tourists to keep the area clean and neat.
The walls are not to be touched or scratch or names and letters etched on them due to the heritage status of the buildings.
Guides are to be hired from those who are approved for the purpose and have their identity cards.
Water bottles can be carried inside the monument, but they have to be shown at the gate, before entering.
Wheelchairs are available for the disabled people for which a certain refundable amount is to be deposited at the counters at the gates.
People are required to dress aesthetically when they visit this mausoleum, keeping in mind the religious sentiments and the ethics of the monument.
How to Visit Sikandra Fort
Sikandra fort is situated at a distance of 10 km towards north from the city of Agra along the Delhi Agra highway. From the capital city of Delhi, it is located at a distance of about 200 kms south east of Delhi and forms a point in the golden triangle trip. Visiting the town of Agra and going to Sikandra is not at all a problem as the communication of the city of Agra with the other cities is very good, through air, road and rail connectivity.
The Kheria airport in Agra is having flights from important cities such as Delhi, although many flights operate during particular seasons. Usually, the kingfisher airlines and Indian airlines have regular flights connecting Delhi, Jaipur and Agra in the same trip. Although the time of flying is very less, almost less than an hour to reach from Delhi to Agra, the cost might be a bit on the higher side.
City of Agra is located in the path of the routes from Delhi to Mumbai and Chennai, due to which everyday, a number of trains pass through the city of Agra. Even trains going and coming from Kolkata join the city. The travel time increases usually during the winter, when thick fog engulfs the atmosphere, thereby lowering the visibility. To reach Sikandra fort, one can alight in Agra in its three stations.
Agra Cantt – This is the main station and is located in the southwest part of the city. Prepaid taxis can be availed to reach any hotel or to the sightseeing places.
Agra Fort Stations – Most of the interstate trains reach these stations.
Raja Ki Mandi, Agra city has meter gauge line and Idgah station in the outskirts, are some of the other small stations in the city.
The luxury trains like Palace on Wheels are also passing through Agra for the tourists to travel to tourist destinations of Rajasthan and Agra.
Tourists can also travel to the city of Agra and to Sikandra fort on a day’s excursion from Delhi by train at New Delhi Railway Station. In this trip, people can go for visit to many other places like Taj Mahal and Itmad-ud-daula apart from visiting the Sikandra fort. This trip can also be undertaken by private car or hired cars.
Bus – It takes 4-5 hours of bus journey to travel from Delhi to Agra with 3 bus stands in the city.
Idgah bus stand is the main bus stand in the heart of the city, where buses ply mostly to Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
ISBT is 12 kms from Taj Mahal and many buses to different states pass through this bus stand.
Taxi – People also have the option to travel by taxi to Sikandra fort, which they can book through online sites. Booking can also be done by getting in touch with the hotel or from the government taxi stand. The going rate is usually Rs 950/day for a maximum period of 12 hours.
In Agra, people can hire the taxis from the airports or railway stations or even the bus stands to move to Sikandra fort, which is about 12 kms from the city centre. Inside the city, a number of transport facilities are available. Cycle rickshaws are found in plenty but these are slower modes of transport, although they are quite cheaper. Tonga driven by horses are still found in the city of Agra and even these have lower charges of moving around, but faster than cycle rickshaws. There are electric buses in Agra, which cover almost all the areas in the town and used by many commuters, even those who are local people. The ticket cost of the buses is very cheap. Tempo and shared taxis are also found in the city, which are comfortable than the buses. These can be the preferred route during the night time.
Best Time to Visit
Sikandra fort tour can be taken up during any time of the year because it is open all throughout the year, except during renovation works. During the summers, due to the extreme warm temperatures and humidity, it is better to avoid. But those who wish to travel to Agra in this season do not have any restriction. During the winters, the garden surrounding the fort is full of flower blooms, so that there is a better visual. During the daytime, the monument is clearly visible although night time visits are possible due to the lighting done in the campus. Tourists should prefer to go to this place, mostly during the night time.
Tourist Places Near Sikandra Fort
Agra Fort – Agra fort is one of the most famous monuments around the Sikandra fort, which the tourists can visit during their trip to Agra. Agra fort was built by Akbar in 1565 and later on, many more additions were done during Shah Jahan’s rule. This has been declared as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Taj Mahal – It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and one of the 3 heritage sites in the city of Agra. Built by Shah Jahan in memory of his loving wife, Taj Mahal represents the best of mughal architecture. The temple took about 22 years of construction with sandstone and marble and was finished in 1653. Materials for its construction were brought from distant countries and a huge number of workers were involved in its making. Till date, the Taj Mahal is one of the most frequented monuments in the country.
Fatehpur Sikri – The city of Fatehpur Sikri was built by Akbar and completed in 1584 as the capital city of Mughal Empire, but was not converted into one. But the monuments and buildings inside the, presently deserted city, have been declared as heritage sites. This is located at a distance of 35 kms from the city of Agra, but has been recognised as one of its kind cities in the country.
Vrindavan – This city of Vrindavan is a holy city related to Lord Krishna and is a very famous pilgrimage city of India. About 4,000 temples are situated in this holy city of Vrindavan, all dedicated to Krishna, being close to the city of Agra.
Other attractions – There are many other attractions near the city of Agra, which have been in the list of places to be visited by tourists. Jama Masjid, Guru Ka Tal, Chini Ka Rauza, Mariam’s tomb, Mehtab Bagh and Keetham Lake are some of the other sightseeing places for the tourists.
Sikandra Fort Facts
Year of Construction: 1605
Completed In: 1613
Time Taken: more than 8 years
Built By: started by Akbar- completed by Shah Jahan
Dedicated to: Mughal emperor akbar
Location: Agra (Uttar Pradesh), India
Building Type: Islamic tomb
Architecture: Mughal (Combination of Persian, Islamic and Indian architecture style)
Architect: Ustad Ahmad Lahauri
Cost of Construction:
Number of Workers:
Highlights: Architecturally fine masterpiece
Timings: Sunrise to Sunset (Friday closed)
Fee: Citizens of India and visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) - Rs. 5 per head.
Rs. 10/- per head as Toll Tax (Agra Development Authority)
Others: US $ 2 or Indian Rs. 100/- per head (ASI)
Rs. 10/- per head as Toll Tax (Agra Development Authority) (Fridays free entry by ADA)
Rs. 500/- ticket of ADA
(Free entry to children up to 15 years)
Interesting Facts Of Sikandra Fort
- Built by Akbar according to Tartary tradition which means, one should make one’s final resting place during the lifetime.
- The tomb was started by Akbar, but completed by Shah Jahan.
- Due to the engagement of Shah Jahan in various wars, the complete attention was not given to the tomb’s construction, so one can see a mix of architectural styles.
- Inside the premises, the tomb of Akbar’s daughters are also found.
- The first 4 floors are made with red sandstone primarily, while the roof and top floor and minarets are made of white marble.
- The monument is placed in the centre of a large garden, surrounded by boundary wall and is entered through the beautifully designed southern gate.
- Inscriptions from the Quran are found in all parts of the tomb as well as the monument.
- Many precious stones and Lapis Lazuli (a semi-precious stone) were ripped off from its walls by the Britishers during the Indian rebellion of 1857.