Agra Fort

Agra is a historical city of India and played a very vital role in defining the twists and turns in the historical events of North India. Agra is situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The history of Agra goes back more than 2500 years. It is famous for two magnificent monuments the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort of Agra- that reflect the architectural grandeur of the Mughals. The Red Fort of Agra or the Agra Fort, as it is usually called, is located about 2.5 kms from the Taj Mahal. Agra was the imperial city of several Mughal rulers and contained many priceless treasures. The famous diamond Kohinoor was a part of this treasure.

Shah Jahan became the Emperor in 1628 AD after a bloody battle for the throne. His gave his favourite wife, Arjumand Bano Begum, the title of Mumtaj Mahal which means 'jewel of the palace'. In 1631 AD, Shah Jahan went on an expedition to the South India. Mumtaj Mahal always accompanied him wherever he went and this journey was no exception. Tragically, she died during childbirth at Burhanpur. She was the mother of 14 children of whom only seven survived. She was just 39 at the time of her death and Shah Jahan was heartbroken. He went for mourning for two years during which there was no music or any kind of celebration in the court.

Agra has been inhabited since the time of Mahabharata. Nearby Agra lies Mathura & Vrindavana where Lord Krishna took birth. Agra Fort was originally a brick fort built by the Rajputs, the Hindu kings who ruled this part of territory. Later, the first Sultan of Delhi, Sikander Lodi shifted to Agra and lived in the fort. It was during this time that Agra became important as the second capital. His son Ibrahim Lodi kept the fort for nine years until he was defeated and killed in the battle of Panipat in 1526 AD by the Mughal ruler Babur. However, it was Akbar who made Agra the capital of the Mughal Empire and who rebuilt the Fort. It was rebuilt in red sandstone and 1,444,000 labourers, masons, architects and designers worked on it for eight years and got it completed in 1573 AD.

But the most beautiful buildings inside the Agra Fort were actually built by Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan. Later on, Shah Jahan was imprisoned in the same Agra Fort by his son Aurangzeb and ultimately Shah Jahan died in a tower in Agra Fort viewing the Taj Mahal.

Agra Fort used to be considered as impregnable fortress being encircled by moat, Yamuna River and rock-solid high walls of red sandstone. Agra Fort is spread out over 94 acres with 21 metres high walls. The river Yamuna runs alongside the Agra Fort. Agra Fort has four gates, built of red sand stone. Delhi Gate is the grandest of the four gates that faces the city on the western side. It is embellished with inlay work in white marble and has a wooden drawbridge that spans a moat. The other important gate is the Lahore Gate which is also known as the Amar Singh Gate. At one time, there were five hundred elegantly architecture buildings inside the Agra Fort. Some of them were demolished by Shah Jahan and replaced them with palaces of white marble.

The massive red sandstone Taj gateway was completed in the year 1648 and stands 30 metres high. The Taj Mahal gateway is topped by small cupolas or chhatris. Symbolic of the divide between the material and the spiritual, the gateway is decorated in calligraphy with verses from the Koran.

Due to Islamic ethos, Muslim monuments' decoration takes resort to limited options like calligraphy and patterns. But, the Agra Fort is disparate from other Islamic monuments in this regard that its architecture unfolds splendid blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture as there are images of dragons, animals and birds as well.

The magnificent Peacock Throne of Mughal ruler Shah Jahan had an enameled canopy studded with gems. Its underside was inlaid with diamonds, emeralds, rubies and garnets. It was supported by 12 pillars covered with emerald facings and got its name from the bejeweled peacocks that flanked it.

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