There isn’t any enthusiastic or aspiring traveler who hasn’t dream of visiting the beautiful Taj Mahal. The good news is there are other attractions in Uttar Pradesh that are as commendable making your sojourn to the city more worthwhile: the Agra Red Fort.
Agra Red Fort is another palace recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Centre. It was originally built by Emperor Akbar as a fort intended as a military structure in 1565 along the bank of the Yamuna River. It is made up of red-sandstone and considered to be among the finest Mughal fortresses in India. It was expanded by his grandson Shah Jahan to include the latter’s favorite construction material – white marble.
The 2.5-kilometer walls of this fortress comprise within its enclosure the majestic city of the Mogul rulers. It is considered to be among the important emblems of the Mogul splendor proclaimed by Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Today, this structure is located at the extreme northwest portion of the Shah Jahan Gardens surrounding Taj Mahal forming with it an awesome monumental unity.
- The Entrances: There are actually two gates, the Amar Singh Gate the Delhi Gate. Though the original entrance is the magnificent Delhi Gate leading to Hathi Pol (Elephant Gate), it is now closed. The sole entrance to the fortress is the Amar Singh Gate. Its dogleg architecture was intentionally meant to confuse assailants who made it across the crocodile-infested moat, the fort’s first line of defense.
- Main Features: The fortress has several dream-like palaces, namely the Khas Mahal, the Shish Mahal and the Muhammam Burj. Some attractions in the fort are splendid reception rooms such as Diwan-i-Khas and Diwan-i-Am.
- Characteristic Marble Carvings: The outstanding exquisite and intricate carvings were made from pure marble. These are monuments of an Indo-Muslim art strongly manifesting Persian influences similar to Timurid art.
- Moti Mosjid: This is the large Pearl Mosque built by Shah Jahan’s son, Aurangzeb Aulumgeer between 1658 and 1704. It is made entirely of marble. Being enclosed by walls kept it away from prying eyes then.
- Diwan-i-Am: Called as Hall of Public Audiences, it where domestic government affairs were held during the rule of Shah Jahan. It has a throne room where Shah Jahan attends to petitioners. To its left is a small staircase that leads to an expansive courtyard.
- Nagina Masjjid: This Gem Mosque was also built by Shah Jahan in 1635. It was originally designed for the exclusive use of the ladies of the court. It was located right down the ladies’ bazaar.
- Diwa-i-Khas: Functioning as the Hall of Private Audiences, the venue is reserved for guests of importance. It used to house Shah Jahan’s renowned Peacock Throne said be bejeweled with precious gems, including the celebrated Koh-i-noor diamond.
- Shish Mahal: This is the Mirror Palace so called for obvious reasons. A peek at its crack (in case it is still close for renovation) would reveal the walls inlaid with a large number of tiny mirrors.
- Musamman Burj and Khas Mahal: This consists of a palace with a tower and where Shah Jahan was kept captive for eight years until his demise in 1666. He had a private mosque here, the Mina Masjid. From here, he had a good view of the Taj Mahal, the tomb for his wife. He was taken there after his death.
- Anguri Bagh: This is the large courtyard and garden that was recently restored to its old magnificence. It has a stair that leads to a labyrinth of covert rooms and passageways designed for Akbar’s Harem.
- Jehangir’s Palace: The architecture of this massive red-sandstone palace built by Akbar for Jehangir, his son served as a reminder of the Mughal’s Afghani ancestry combining the Central Asia and India. In front of the structure is an enormous bowl used for bathing carved out of a monolith or a solitary block of rock.
This citadel proved powerless against a son’s betrayal, Aurangzeb, son of Shah Jahan, who seized power in 1658 and imprisoned his father in this beautiful Red Fort for eight years until his death in 1666. It was in Musamman Burj, a tower with a stunning marble balcony, where Shah Jahan is said to have passed away.