Said to be one of the most significant and ancient monuments of Mughal architecture, is the Agra Fort (also known as the Red Fort). It stands with 21.4m high walls enclosing a 94-acre imperial city. Located 2.5km from the Taj Mahal, the fort is home to palaces and structures built over time by multiple generations of Mughal royalty.
The initial construction of the red sandstone fort began a few years after Emperor Akbar arrived in Agra. He then named it his capital. He constructed the fort on the same site as the remains of an ancient site known as Badalgarh. In 1565 Akbar ordered for the fort to be built using red sandstone. Eight years later in 1573 it was complete. Akbar and his thousands of workers built most of the structures in the fort. However, unfortunately many do not exist anymore.
Akbar built for his eldest son, Jahangir his own palace in 1570 within the fort. After Akbar died, Jahangir was coronated in the fort in 1605. Jahangir mostly lived in Lahore and Kashmir. He visited Agra regularly and when he was there, he stayed in the fort. A royal residence, the fort was and still is filled with grandeur.
While Akbar built the foundations of the fort, Akbar’s grandson, Shan Jahan (also the creator or the Taj Mahal) created many of the exquisite palaces within. Shah was known to be a brilliant builder, steering away from the traditional red sandstone of the rest of the fort; he used white marble for his three mosques. Shah Jahan resided in the fort for many years on and off. While in power, Shah Jahan transferred the capital back to Delhi. As well as the three mosques, Shah Jahn built various other structures in white marble, however most have since been destroyed.
Shah Jahan’s son, Aurangzeb imprisoned him, in the fort for 8 years until his death in 1666. Shah Jahan was buried in the Taj Mahal, the mausoleum he built for his favourite wife, Mumtaz. The towers around the two gates and on the riverside were built by Aurangzeb to strengthen its defences. After Aurangzeb’s death in 1707 the Agra Fort went through a series of sieges and ransacks during which the Jats and the Marathas had possession. The British captured it from the Marathas in 1803. The British destroyed a large number of the structures within the complex. The structures that managed to survive highlight the real complexity and craftsmanship of Mughal architecture.
The history of the Agra fort dates back beyond Emperor Akbar, to the 11th century. During this time, it was not in the possession of the Mughals. However, its restoration by Akbar in the 16th Century is what makes the fort such an important part of Indian history and architecture. The four Mughal emperors listed had the most significant impact on the fort. However there were many other historic people that took part in the construction of the Agra Fort. We’ve tried to give you a snapshot of the history of this amazing place, the history is too extensive to go into detail in this piece. A visit to Agra and the Agra fort will provide you with a wealth of knowledge on the history of India and the trials and tribulations of its royalty.
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