Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Red Fort Agra - Agra, India

About 2 km from the Taj, on the banks of the river Yamuna, stands the imposing Agra Fort. It was during the reign of Emperor Akbar that the city of Agra reached its pinnacle of glory. During his reign, the main part of the Agra fort was built. The fort, which was first constructed in AD1156 and was finished by Akbar in the year 1605. Most of the buildings inside the fortress were erected by Shahjahan. While most parts of the fort was used as a military bastion, a portion of it was used as a court as by Shahjahan.

Structure of the Fort:
The fort stretches almost 2.5 km alongside the Yamuna river. It is enclosed by a wall built in red sandstone and has several buildings inside. Though the fort has two gates- the Delhi Gate and the Amar Singh Gate- access can be gained only via the Amar Singh Gate. The entire fort is not opened to tourists, for part of it is nowadays used by the Indian Army. But still it has enough to give an insight into the 16th century Mughal lifestyle. It was the very place where Emperor Shahjahan was confined till death by his son Aurangzeb. Shahjahan is said to have died in the Musamman Burj, a tower with a beautiful marble balcony, which provides the most captivating views of the Taj.
Inside the fort there is the Great Courtyard, towards the right of which lies the multi- pillared Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience), built by Shahjahan in 1628. Next, there are the Royal Pavilions. The fort houses two beautiful mosques- Nagina Masjid & Mina Masjid. There are the splendid palaces- Macchi Bhavan, Khas Mahal, Shish Mahal and Shah Jahani Mahal. Besides, there is also the Zenana Mina Bazaar. Many of the buildings are made of pure marble and embellished exquisite carvings. An interesting feature of the rooms in the marble pavilions is that the walls were hollow and filled with running water to provide a cooling effect. The balconies in the pavilions provide some eyeful views of the Yamuna and the Taj.

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